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Survey: CMOs feel the power

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A new report by the Capre Group, an Atlanta-based marketing company, found that more than three-quarters of chief marketing officers feel more empowered in their jobs than they did five years ago. The findings contrast sharply with an October report by the CMO Council that found CMOs believe they are losing influence at the executive table.

According to the Capre report, titled "Today's CMO: Trends and Perspectives 2004," 79% of respondents said the role of the CMO is more empowered than it was five years ago. Also, 88% of CMOs said they believe their strategies are sustainable into the future.

The study was based on interviews with more than 90 senior-level marketers. About half of the companies represented in the sample were b-to-b. The survey was sponsored by law firm Alston & Bird, which has an advertising and marketing practice.

"Marketing has more confidence than ever and is stronger than ever," said Anne Chambers, president of Capre.

By comparison, the CMO Council study found that marketing departments at technology companies are losing influence in the C-suite, primarily because of their inability to show the effectiveness of their marketing investment. More than 80% of respondents in the CMO Council study said they were dissatisfied with their ability to prove marketing ROI.

"Particularly in technology and telecommunications sectors, the marketing role is often subjugated," said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council.

Neale-May said the biggest problem is the lack of effective marketing measurement systems. "You have to show in a very exacting way where and how marketing is impacting the performance of the company and the value of the business," he said.

Dean Harris, CMO of Vonage, which provides voice-over-IP service, said it's marketing measurability that makes him feel more empowered than he did five years ago. "We are in an era now where we are more accountable. If you can prove accountability, you are probably more empowered."

Five years ago, Harris was CMO of HotJobs.com. "We had a big budget and we were growing like crazy," he said. "We were empowered to grow the brand, but we didn't have the same discipline and accountability we do now. Now, I can prove results, and I have measurements and goals."

The Capre Group study found that measurement is a key issue for CMOs. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said demand for efficiencies and proving ROI were having a strong or a very strong impact on their marketing strategies.

However, the ways they measure ROI vary. Thirty percent said they prove ROI by measuring profits or revenues; 13% use a mix of marketing metrics; 13% are currently developing an ROI model; and 13% said they are unable to prove ROI.

The survey found that 52% of respondents had larger marketing budgets in 2004 than in 2003, while 25% had smaller budgets. Seventy-eight percent said they had the same size or a larger marketing organization in 2004 compared with 2003.

Many marketers also said they were reorganizing their marketing departments in order to meet changes in the competitive environment and to respond to customers' needs. Forty-eight percent said they had made minor changes to the organizational structure, while 12% said they had conducted a major reorganization.

When asked, "What has been the most significant change you have implemented?" 29% said integrated marketing, followed by reorganizing marketing, new media initiatives and driving brand strategy, all of which received a 15% response.

Integrated marketing was rated the "next big thing in marketing" by 43% of respondents. Other marketing priorities were better research and insights and technological advancements, both of which received a 19% response.

In terms of resource allocation, the survey found that marketers are spending more on direct communications than in the past, compared with TV and other mass media. Fifty-eight percent of marketers are spending more on direct marketing than they did in the past, and 55% are spending more on Internet marketing. Only 22% are spending more on TV advertising, and only 12% are spending more on radio.

"Resource allocation is shifting to mediums where it is easier to measure the impact and have a more direct line to the customer," Chambers said. 

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