Hiring an executive CMO

Four Top Challenges Facing CMOs in 2022

Every new year brings new marketing challenges CMOs must face, and 2022 is proving to be the most challenging in recent memory.

As the leading boutique marketing executive search firm, we’ve noticed a few trends. Let’s look at four top challenges facing CMOs in 2022.

As we enter a post-pandemic world (let’s hope), expectations for CMOs are continuing to evolve. Top marketers are responsible for more facets of the business than ever before. No longer are marketing leaders just creative and brand advocates, now they are business strategists, technology innovators and drivers of newly discovered revenue streams. The CMO’s scope of responsibilities has grown like none other in the C-suite.

As demands and expectations of head marketers and their teams continuing to grow, what sits at the top of a CMO’s responsibilities today? What exactly is worrying leaders in the highest seats of marketing? At MarketPro, we’ve noticed a few trends.

Maximizing lift for every dollar spent

Not necessarily a new trend, but certainly one near the top of the list, is making every dollar work hard. CMOs must show the impact of marketing on the business, drive sales and strategically ideate how to create new revenue streams and business lines. Companies today must be nimble to the changes in how customers consider and purchase products and services, and head marketers must react quickly to the ever-evolving market.

Marketing executives must fully grasp the complete funnel of your customer journey and make sure that marketing channels and messaging are targeted for the right stage of the sales cycle. The key is to intersect with the customer at the right time, with the right message, on the right device.

A holistic view of the journey is fundamental to ensuring that expenditures are allocated appropriately to achieve the desired action. It’s imperative that KPIs are in place to quickly react to small negative trends before they become debilitating ones.

Transparency around the performance of the marketing plan can be uncomfortable for some CMOs, who may feel that everyone is looking over their shoulder and/or judging their efforts. But open communication builds trust and fosters the dialog necessary to prevent misunderstandings and potential resentments down the line. Company executives must understand that the marketing plan is an evergreen document and almost any element can and should be tested. You can’t build a marketing plan and “set it and forget it.” Critical components are measuring, learning, adjusting and repeating. Constant evaluation and refinement based on real-time analytics is tedious but indispensable, and should be used in determining the validity of any subjective input.

Creating omnichannel, mobile-first user experiences

CMOs are challenged with owning the entire customer journey to deliver a seamless omnichannel experience. Customers expect that, no matter how they begin their interaction with you, it will carry over when they change devices. This is where the importance of the relationship between the CMO and the CTO/CIO comes in. Shared ownership of the user journey continues to grow more critical in today’s digital, customer-first world. Alignment between marketing and dedicated technical resources is paramount to prioritizing the features and tools that most impact the end user and bring about the desired business result.

With mobile devices garnering 61% of internet traffic in the United States, approaching your customer interaction from a ‘mobile-first’ perspective is crucial. If you optimize the customer experience for mobile, it will almost certainly work well for desktop. Great care should be taken to ensure that your messaging, creative and calls-to-action function properly across all devices. Always make sure your site navigation is intuitive, consistent and easy to use. Businesses that make the digital experience seamless and functional will excel. Your CMO must be able to effectively articulate the brand and revenue benefits of an omnichannel experience and fight for alignment among the C-suite.

Managing remote/hybrid teams

One change the pandemic has brought us is working from home. In fact, record numbers of employees insist on the option to work remotely, even if only for part of the week. This new work style has been embraced by the masses who don’t miss long commutes or the added expense of those commutes. People value the work/life balance that working remotely affords. Being available for their families and personal responsibilities, combined with the extra hours not spent on the road, is something most employees are simply not willing to give up.

For the CMO, it takes extra effort to manage a remote team. Ensuring that business goals are moving forward while attending to the well-being of the marketing team, both collectively and individually, is a balancing act. It can be challenging to understand how each employee’s personality and work style is impacted by being an independent self-motivated contributor. Some will absolutely thrive, while others may struggle with focus, having a quiet workspace or the ability to prioritize the tasks at hand.

Special attention needs to be allotted to new team members, who may only know their colleagues through video conferencing, having joined the company post-Covid. For companies embracing a hybrid office model, many are realizing that what seems to work best is having the entire marketing department in the office on the same days. This allows the CMO to align team priorities face-to-face and get a real sense of how each employee is handling this new work style.

Securing and retaining talent

The job market is extremely hot right now. There are more jobs than people willing to fill them, and the quit rate is the highest it’s ever been. CMOs are scrambling for top talent and wondering what they can do to retain the talent they have.

The “Great Quarantine” has put a new emphasis on individual well-being that employees are prioritizing over job security—a major break from the past. CMOs need to understand that the market has shifted and that not shifting with it will leave them wondering where the talent has gone.

MarketPro has a client from a large established company, who has lost more than 35% of their marketing department because they are requiring employees to return to the office full-time. That’s a huge hit to business productivity. So, what can you do?

First, control what you can control. Genuine empathy, compassion and flexibility go a very long way in 2022, but you can’t just talk-the-talk. If your company doesn’t embrace a WFH or hybrid model, realize that you are in the minority and are at risk of losing retention. Can you be flexible with your team’s in-office days and PTO?

Secondly, acknowledge the shift in salary demands and do your best to ensure that your top performers won’t be lured away purely by financial incentives. At MarketPro, we are seeing salaries skyrocket like never before, and certain roles (digital and e-commerce come to mind) are commanding top dollar.

And lastly, be an advocate for your team. Understand the market data and, if you are under par with your compensation package (all of it—salary, bonus, equity, perks, insurance, 401k match, etc.), have a frank discussion with yourself, as well as the CHRO and CFO. Be creative in your new approach and willing to tie incentives to performance. Never minimize the impact of losing your key players, as well as the money, time and energy will take to replace them. Know that when you do have to replace them, you’re going to have to pay market rate. You may as well step up now with your proven performers, rather than starting over and losing productivity through the hiring and onboarding process.

Conclusion

As experienced executive recruiters, we know marketers are facing increasing pressure as their roles continue to evolve and grow. Not only do CMOs have to manage, retain and attract talent, they must also rise to increasing business expectations and be at the forefront of innovation, which makes finding the right executive-level marketer more important than ever. Hiring a candidate who isn’t up to these four top challenges facing CMOs could be devastating to your overall success in 2022. But, with the right support and talent in place, your team can turn these modern realities into new opportunities and major wins.

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