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Is Your Marketing Really Working?

In the fast-paced world of “get it done” marketers are busier than ever with their heads down and fingers typing. But not making the time to measure marketing’s impact is a dangerous and potentially self-destructive decision. It is no secret that CEO pressure, CFO pressure, CIO negotiations, budget reports, annual personnel reviews, and managing vendor relationships all float to the top of a CMO’s daily “to do” list and tend to push examining the effectiveness of the company’s marketing program to the very bottom of that long, long list (right behind mentoring young people and scheduling a Lunch n’ Learn.) According to search firm Spencer Stuart, in 2013 the average tenure of a CMO was 3.7 years. That’s 44 months. Yep. Once the honeymoon’s over, you are headed for corporate divorce court.

This statistic is alarming, to say the least. It begs the question, “Why so short a stay?” There are a multitude of valid factors that comprise this statistic, but I find this reason most obvious: it is Darwinian. Most of today’s big-time CMOs grew up during the age of mass advertising; agencies performing creative “magic,” huge advertising budgets, and a lot of “trust me.” Old school CMOs were idea salespeople, not necessarily business people. The CMOs of yesteryear rarely held P&L responsibility and if they did, it was for tangential products or services, not 800-pound gorillas.

Corporations today don’t have the time, budget, or patience for the razzmatazz of yesteryear. They want tangible results: ROI, ROIC, leads, trial, and customers. For both established and new companies, “hard metrics” have displaced old-fashioned brand awareness and brand comprehension. And so, a CMO has to ask him or herself: is our marketing really working? If so, then bravo! If not, today may be the day to block an hour on the calendar to think dispassionately and rationally about the answer. And as you examine the activities, here is our advice: do not mistake activity for productivity. Focusing on productivity and results will insure that you’ll beat the odds and be a successful CMO for years to come.