The group of frustrated leaders looked at each other as one of them said, “I don’t think we spent enough time on our Marketing decisions or increased the marketing budget enough.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it, just as long as you have enough salespeople it will be fine. Marketing is just a waste of money,” shared a team member who also happens to be a sales leader back in the “real world” of pharmaceuticals.
The team did very poorly in the simulation workshop and one of the reasons was they had the worst performing marketing team as measured by the Marketing Efficiency metric of 64, which was 46 points behind the best performing team’s index of 110.
The conversation and the results of the high potential leader virtual business simulation workshop struck me as I was reading an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about how the average tenure of the Chief Marketing Officer has decreased to a record low of just 46 months. That means the typical CMO is replaced less than every four years – faster than any other seat in the C-Suite - which is a good indication something is seriously wrong in Marketingland.
Over the past few years, I have seen firsthand a diminishing of marketing skills and what I call “Marketing IQ” in many organizations. Much of this is because the Marketing function has changed more dramatically than most organizational functions across the enterprise. Once considered just advertising and sales support, Marketing has been transformed into a digital accelerator of revenue growth and in many industries like pharmaceuticals the Marketing budget is now bigger than the Sales budget.
From an “IQ” perspective, here is an overview of the five critical skills needed to be effective in today’s complex and competitive marketplace:
Acquiring a Realistic Budget
One of the reasons why too many CMOs are losing their jobs is because they don’t have the skills needed to acquire and maintain a strong and consistent budget. For leading, Marketing-driven industries, the Marketing budget should be as high as 15% of the revenues. It takes business acumen, influencing, and great marketing skills to get the budget needed to be most effective.
Having a Clear Customer Strategy: Acquire, Maintain, or Both?
Digital marketing tools and techniques now provide pinpoint accuracy in terms of reaching potential customers and leading them to a buying decision. However, one of the most important elements of the Marketing approach is targeting the right customer and having a clear customer strategy in terms of acquiring new customers, maintaining your customer base, or doing both. Each one is difficult and requires consistent budgets, attention to detail, and strong internal and external (agency) alignment. All too often there is a lack of clarity here which leads to the worst strategy being “stuck in the middle.”
Developing and Delivering the Right Message
Once the customer strategy has been selected, developing and delivering the right message to the right customer becomes even more critical. Developing the right message requires a Marketing IQ blend of creativity and deep knowledge of the business with a focus on customer needs. A very difficult combination of skills to find and develop in any organization or agency.
Executing with the Right Tactics
To often, the focus of Marketing is in the tactics and not the strategy behind the tactics. Again, a strong Marketing IQ is required. The problem is that the tactics are the fun and sexy part of Marketing. But without the work that’s required to execute the right tactics many marketing executives will find themselves wondering why they are looking for new jobs every 3-4 years.
The fifth and least glamorous skill is having the Marketing IQ to measure the effectiveness of the Marketing effort. In our digital simulations it’s easy to look at the business scoreboard to see the results; in the real world it’s more difficult and requires great attention to detail, patients, and the ability to understand different data.