Six issues CMOs must address now

The economy finally showed signs of recovery at the beginning of 2010 as marketers began to get back their footing after a difficult few years. So what are the top issues facing CMOs as they work to build and rebuild market share in the new economy?

To uncover the top issues CMOs must address, Direct Connect talked with Craig Dempster, CMO and EVP at Merkle, a CRM agency. He directs Merkle’s lead generation, vertical marketing and corporate marketing communications functions, including PR, events and advertising. Here are the issues Dempster says CMOs must address to ensure end-of-year success:

Get marketing accountability metrics in place. “The economic downturn that started in 2008 and continued through 2009 has placed more emphasis than ever on marketing accountability,” Dempster says. “It doesn’t matter if you are a midsize business or a large business. The ability for marketers to be able to say what they deliver for the organization in terms of revenue and performance is critical. To retain budgets, they have to demonstrate value.”

Think about digital holistically. Marketers tend to look at digital marketing as disparate channels – e-mail, display, search and social, Dempster says. “They need to look at the combination of these media channels,” he explains. “Ask, ‘How do I effectively use the combination of these media to drive my marketing performance or to drive my brand engagement?’”

Be accountable on social media. Social media brings marketers new insights and ways to communicate, including the ability to interact directly with consumers, says Dempster. “Marketing has to be accountable for creating better marketing through social media as well as protecting its brand within social media,” he says. “The challenge is ‘How do I protect my brand when I am really challenged to control what consumers say about my brand?’” 

Do more with less. Every marketer knows budgets and staffing have been cut dramatically in recent years. It’s unlikely we’ll see pre-recession-level spending for a while. Dempster says CMOs are turning to technology to gain efficiencies. “[Leading companies are] using technology to operationalize internal processes around marketing, to become a more efficient marketing organization. They’re using more effective technologies in outbound marketing communications to reduce costs there and market more efficiently,” he explains.

This year could be the year mobile marketing takes off. Are you ready?  “People have been saying for the last five-plus years that ‘this year’ is the year of mobile. But this could actually be the year of mobile,” Dempster says. “The number of smartphones in the marketplace is growing every day. The ability for two-way communications with consumers through their mobile devices is creating great marketing opportunities – a very direct relationship at a fraction of the cost of other media.”

Bring knowledge up to speed. Overall, marketers need to build knowledge and skills, especially in digital marketing, and they need to stay sharp to be competitive, Dempster says. “Marketers have to learn faster and react faster than they ever have had to in the past,” he says. “If somebody says something about your brand yesterday, that gets sent around to a million people. You either have to capitalize on the benefits of that or defend yourself against the negativity that it could create for your brand. It can all happen in a heartbeat.”

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