Saluting the Battle-Tested CMOs of the World

Pity the chief marketing officer.

Not only is their average tenure a scant 35 months – certainly an improvement over a few years ago. But ever since the Great Recession, when their already slim marketing budgets were slashed even further, CMOs have been asked to deliver more and more with less and less.

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And not meeting the results demanded by their brothers and sisters in the rest of the C-suite is unacceptable.  No excuses.

Well, I’m here to report there’s a glimmer of hope for at least one community of CMOs – those in the tech sector.

What’s the news?  That global IT marketing investment will grow by eight percent this year.  This is according to market intelligence provider International Data Corp. (IDC), based in Morrissey & Company’s backyard (sort of) in Framingham, Mass.

So if you’re a CMO for an IT concern, it’s ok to wear your happy face. Just don’t over do it.  Your C-suite colleagues will think they have been overly generous. 

Of course, news like this sometimes has the same effect as a back-handed complement.  Says Joseph Ferrantino, an IDC research analyst:  “With the influx of new funds expected in 2011, we will watch closely to see which vendors make the best use of better times and bigger budgets.”

Yes, Mr. Ferrantino and his team of analysts at IDC’s CMO Advisory Services will be watching.  And they won’t be alone.

It’s guaranteed that with the advancement in, and wide availability of tools that measure the success of marketing initiatives, in addition to the broader deployment of new marketing disciplines like social networks, board members and CEOs will keep a close eye and fairly short lease on any CMO who may be jingling newfound change in their pockets and purses.

The fact of the matter is that in many ways the Great Recession (we’re still out of it, right?) fueled the deeper dive into digital marketing, and obviously not just among IT companies but among companies in many B2B and B2C industries.  Shallow marketing budgets and the downsizing of marketing personnel everywhere forced companies to get their jobs done via cost-effective, non-traditional channels — web-based events, SEO, email marketing and social media networks.

IDC reports that in 2010, marketing organizations increased their digital marketing spend by nearly seven percent. As the economy continues to gather steam (it is gathering steam, right?), “companies are still favoring digital marketing for increased investment over more traditional mediums,” said Ferrantino

It’s just a matter of time before the “traditional mediums” – in good times and in bad – are irrelevant.  But that’s a post for another time.

For now, I ask you to join me in saluting the battle-tested IT CMOs of the world, as well as their peers in other industries where marketing budgets are also experiencing growth. Not only have they demonstrated creative ways to do more with less, but in the process they have extended their lifespan.

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