Study Probes Marketers’ Woes

NEW YORK Marketing chiefs understand that their operations need improvement but are vexed by myriad internal obstacles, according to a new study from the CMO Council.

The top obstacles cited in the study were corporate politics, followed by siloed data, poor adoption of customer relationship management systems, lack of top management support and not having ownership of profit and loss responsibilities.

In many ways the study, “Calibrate How You Operate,” further illustrates the frustrations felt by chief marketing officers and partly explains their short tenures compared to, say, CEOs. The findings also suggest that such internal obstacles are distracting marketers from the core task of distinguishing their brands from those of their competitors.

When asked, “To what degree are competitive best practices being analyzed, tracked or adopted by your marketing team?” 43 percent said “somewhat” and 15 percent replied “not at all.” Another 32 percent said they did so “moderately” and only 9 percent said “extensively.”

“Companies don’t track and analyze what their competitors are doing,” said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council. “What we’re not seeing is the mind-set to do this.”

Instead, CMOs are getting sidetracked by day-to-day tactical efforts or “random acts of marketing,” and aren’t focusing enough on their big picture strategic goals, said Neale-May.

The council polled 406 marketing executives between November and January, via both an online questionnaire and phone interviews. A quarter of the respondents work at technology companies, 21 percent at professional services firms and the rest in sectors such as manufacturing, telecommunications, consumer products, financial services, travel, healthcare and retail.

Among those represented in the sample were Microsoft, Accenture, Nortel, Wal-Mart, Levi Strauss, VeriSign, Kodak, Scottrade, Sony, ConAgra Foods, General Electric, Western Union, CA, Motorola, Kimberly-Clark, Cisco, AMD, LG, Victoria’s Secret, Deloitte, Hershey, AT&T and Symantec.

The study was sponsored by Alterian, which provides software platforms for integrated marketing.