Do I want my marketing pain now or later? Hmmm.
A survey of 300 CMOs was released yesterday by executive search firm Spencer Stewart. Covered by Advertising Age and blogger Frank Reed, the study showed an emphasis on short-term planning rather than long-term strategy by 55% of the survey respondents.
Ad Age noted, "Yet more than 80% said they believe they are in 'good' or 'excellent' shape to drive growth once the downturn subsides. According to the survey, 57% assume 2010 will be better than 2009.
So how does one explain the discrepancy, given the conventional wisdom that growth comes from marketing investment, not cost-cutting? Are CMOs talking a good game but not following up?"
It's a bit worrisome to see the measurements for success in the downturn that the article reported:
"Sixty-four percent of survey respondents said they are measuring success differently in the economic downturn, focusing on controlling expense budgets (60%), retaining high-value customers (49%) and demonstrating positive return on marketing investments (48%). In other words, they are focused on sustaining rather than growing (see chart below)."
It's definitely a short-term view and it's one we are seeing many marketing departments forced to follow. Communications professionals know that it is not that easy to start up a marketing or PR engine that has been shut down completely, as solid messaging and proof points must be repeated and sustained so they will resonate in a noisy, competitive marketplace.
There was nothing in the survey about where investment -- reduced though it may be -- was being made. The need for positive press was listed, but there was nothing about social media. Given the turmoil going on in the publishing industry, even the short-term strategy for all marketers needs to be a savvy combination of social media and traditional communications and marketing practices to retain strong brand presence and reputation.
Recently, there seem to be some positive signs that companies are shaking off the lethargy of economic woes and peeking hopefully into the future, even if that future is realistically six or seven months away. The strategic planning needs to begin now to make sure the right decisions are made for marketing and communications programs that will reap benefits -- and have a strong foundation upon which to succeed -- well before that period arrives.
What do CMOs and marketing people think of this survey? Is it accurate? Are there approaches you can share that you've used to combat the pressure to focus on short-term thinking in marketing due to the downturn?