Why CMOs get fired: Slow and steady will lose this race

October 13, 2020

A lot can happen after four years. Students earn degrees. Politicians win elections. Athletes take Olympic gold. CMOs get fired. Here’s how to make the next four years different.

Play cautiously and disappear

No one said being a CMO is easy.

Expectations begin day one and grow as they establish themselves, select vendors, and formulate a strategy. These initial efforts usually take about 18 months, the same amount of time it usually takes to finish a single marketing plan cycle.

A 2020 CMO Survey found that nearly 44% of marketing executives were unable to tie concrete numbers to their marketing efforts. An additional 21% were unable to measure any impact at all.

Yet the lofty expectations remain and with little-to-no results to quantify, CMOs are sealing their fate.

Marketing leaders need more iterations not more time

Each iteration within the marketing cycle allows the CMO to adjust spend, improve outcomes, and hopefully, preserve their role. Yet marketing leaders can’t count on more time. They need to cycle faster.

By streamlining their campaign creation, testing, and measurement strategies, CMOs can get better results 2 to 4 times faster. This delivers the data and evidence they need to show their value to the organization and preserve their role.

Here’s how CMOs can accelerate these iterations and improve results.

1. Consolidate to create efficiently

Great creative fuels great media plans but developing each separately hinders both. Integrating content creation and production into the media planning and buying cycle can speed up this process by eliminating handoffs and variations. Fewer layers mean faster content creation, reduced costs and a streamlined vison, all of which allows CMOs to make quicker adjustments and outpace expectations.

2. Test boldly

Everyone in the market tests but few test well. There’s nothing more useless than an inconclusive test.

Testing is a time-consuming process that can include considerable hard costs. Applying a bold testing strategy delivers conclusive results to support your ROI.

To create bold tests:

  • Direct 50% of your media spend to a targeted testing initiative rather than 10%. This test may sound expensive but it can be balanced by corresponding budget cuts or highly focused so it does not break the bank.
  • Create entirely new creative for a campaign rather than making minor image or content adjustments
  • Double or triple the frequency of a particular testing effort rather than making an incremental change
  • Launch tests into brand-new media opportunities to explore the results

Whether these bold tests reinforce the existing marketing plan or spur agile adjustments, they will provide conclusive feedback on the team’s efforts and future direction. This will make the next iteration more effective and agile.

3. Fill gaps to measure effectively

The marketing team’s analytics solutions provide the foundation for performance measurement in any campaign, but individual models – like Media Mix Model (MMM) and Digital Attribution models – still have gaps. They don’t answer all the questions needed to know what exactly is working and what to alter.

MMM provides high-level insights and are perfect for strategic and budget-setting goals. However, they cannot be updated during the campaign or determine which individual ads are most successful.

Digital Attribution Modeling is ideal if your focus is on the relative performance of your media tactics and your KPI or conversion signal is digital. Yet, this model cannot factor in outside events and offline media or sales.

Solving these gaps requires a hierarchy of analytics models including the Tactical Media Effectiveness Model (TMEM). Developed by Quad, this model is algorithmically similar to MMM yet yields media tactic performance data frequently enough to make changes mid-stream. TMEM can incorporate offline media channels and highlight the performance of all channels, offline and digital, on offline sales or traffic, thereby providing the ability to evaluate most media investments on an equal footing.

This complete analytics offering fills monolithic modeling gaps and allows the CMO to adjust for the next iteration quicker, and provides the comprehensive data necessary to prove and increase ROI.

43 months and beyond

CMOs cannot succeed with a single plan execution. Marketing leaders need more iterations and data to prove their value and reach key corporate goals. The average CMO lifespan of 43 months leaves marketers room for tons of iterations where often only a handful typically exist today. That’s plenty of cycles to demonstrate the value that will keep the CMO in their role for years ahead.