COVID-19 Update

Is The CMO The Problem?

Adam Needles ANNUITASBy Adam Needles, Chief Strategy Officer, ANNUITAS

A recent CEB Marketing Leadership Council study noted, "[W]e see B2B companies looking to apply process rigor, automation and performance measurement tools across the full demand side of their businesses, just as they did to the supply side of their business in the past …"

A strategic, perpetual and optimizable demand process. Sounds great.

But why is it that so few enterprise B2B marketing organizations — especially marketing automation adopters — have yet to establish a strategic, perpetual or optimizable demand process, or even elevate demand generation above a tactic?

We are seeing a new guard of internal marketing leaders evangelizing this vision. But in delivering Demand Process Transformation initiatives to dozens of $1 billion-plus B2B organizations, it’s rare I’ve seen the CMO lead this initiative. Too often I’ve seen the opposite.

And — even worse — often I’ve found the CMO does not even fully “get” the idea of building and optimizing Demand Process to drive perpetual revenue. A 2012 IBM study reports, “52% of CMOs state they are unprepared for the expected level of complexity over the next five years.” No kidding.

If CMOs aren’t helping their organizations drive strategic demand — and revenue — it begs the question: Are they the ones holding their organizations back?

CMOs obsess about marketing ROI; however, they focus on activities and their costs, not on demand and revenue.

The IBM study found 63% of CMOs believe marketing ROI should be the leading measure of marketing accountability. Yet only 39% of B2B marketing organizations calculate true marketing ROI, according to the 2012 Lenskold Group / Pedowitz Group Lead Gen Marketing Effectiveness Study.

Getting to ROI requires being responsible not only for marketing investment, but also for return … i.e., for the revenue generated. Yet CMOs are leery of taking this on. “I don't want to touch revenue. It scares the hell out of me,” a colleague once heard a CMO exclaim.

Nor do CMOs really want to touch “demand.” Only 30% of CMOs in the IBM study believe demand generation expertise is an important trait of a successful CMO.

CMOs talk about the importance of buyer insights; however, they do not orient their approach around supporting the B2B buyer journey in a value-added fashion.

The IBM study found 67% of CMOs cite “enhance customer loyalty/advocacy” as the primary driver for digital investments. Great, given that engaging with digital content drives nearly 57% of the buying voyage today, according to the CEB Marketing Leadership Council study.

Yet where do CMOs invest? They continue to market “inside out” — clinging to the “push” of product and company information via interruptive tactics. Gartner’s recent US digital marketing spending study found digital advertising remains the number-one line item on CMOs’ budgets.

Meanwhile, CMOs and their teams fail to analyze the true information needs and preferred channels of buyers at each stage of their process and align content marketing to this ‘content consumption pattern.’Forrester has reported“only 14% [of B2B marketers] align compelling content with buyer journeys …” And a recent survey by Holger Schulze found only one third of B2B technology marketers are even doing buying cycle nurturing.

CMOs believe that they have process gaps; however, their definition of process has more to do with periodic budgeting and campaign creation cycles than it does with managing a perpetual demand process.

I’ve sat through presentations at client sites where marketers have explained their “documented processes,” which inevitably translate into how they manage budgeting and campaign creation. Yet the most important process is the one never mentioned — the perpetual buying process, the perpetual lead-to-revenue process…what we at ANNUITAS call demand process.

Successfully intersecting with a buyer in his/her buying cycle has little to do with interruptive, time-bound “campaigns.” Yet this is the bread-and-butter of how CMOs control and analyze the performance of their organizations. Which explains why only 9% of B2B marketing organizations cite lead management as “a core competence,” according to ITSMA.

Noblesse oblige. It’s time for CMOs to drive strategic demand, not hold their organizations back from it.

Adam B. Needles is Chief Strategy Officer for ANNUITAS and the author of Balancing the Demand Equation: The Elements of a Successful, Modern B2B Demand Generation Model. Adam has led marketing strategy and B2B demand generation programs for dozens of companies since the late 1990s. LinkedIn: Twitter: @abneedles