'Accountability,' the CMO's watchword

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`Marketing needs to drive sales results measurably and predictably," says Craig Shields, partner at Patrick Marketing Group, in Senior Reporter Kate Maddox's story on the company's latest survey of senior marketing executives ("Marketing accountability demands increase," Page 4). This survey comes on the heels of the CMO Council's "Measures + Metrics: Assessing Marketing Value + Impact" report, which BtoB reported on last month ("CMOs losing influence at the executive table," Oct. 11, Page 1).

Unfortunately, research by both outfits indicates the profession still has a long way to go. The CMO Council, a peer group of marketing executives representing almost 1,000 technology companies, found in an earlier survey that fewer than 20% of marketers said their companies employed comprehensive and meaningful metrics. Moreover, more than 80% said they were dissatisfied with their ability to measure marketing ROI. The Patrick Marketing survey, which involved interviews with about 75 senior marketing executives, found that only 26% of respondents said they are using new metrics to track ROI.

The impact of all this on the C-suite has been dramatic.

"The honeymoon is really brief," said Greg Welch, a senior consultant with global executive search firm Spencer Stuart. The average tenure for CMOs at the top 100 branded companies is just 22.9 months, according to Spencer Stuart. By comparison, CEOs are in their positions, on average, for 53.8 months.

Topping the incoming CMO's action list, Welch said, should be settling on metrics that "demonstrate winning" and joining with other company executives in the hunt for tangible cost savings. This, he suggested, is more valuable and will have more long-term impact than the usual activities of a new CMO, such as ripping up an existing campaign or switching agencies.

As the Patrick Marketing survey makes abundantly clear, senior marketers are extremely unhappy about the lack of support they get from management, with 43% citing this as one of their greatest frustrations. Only 20% of respondents said senior management is highly supportive of the CMO and his or her team; 34% said it is supportive; 24% said it is skeptical of marketing; and 11% said it is negative toward the CMO and his or her team.

Adoption of metrics and accountability is the way out of this hole. And on this score, there is reason to be optimistic. According to the Patrick Marketing survey, 81% of the respondents said accountability had increased in their marketing organizations over the past 24 months.

Ellis Booker is editor of BtoB. He can be reached at

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