If there’s one overarching takeaway from a recent survey of B2B marketing executives, it’s the one at the top of the chart above: 96% agree that the pace of change in technology and marketing will continue to accelerate.
It’s been the recurring theme this year — the biggest change that marketers are facing is the nature of “change” itself. It’s an accelerating clockspeed in marketing that is pushing adoption of agile marketing. It’s the core dynamic at play in the dilemma of Martec’s Law. It’s why more than a few people have remarked that CMO should stand for “change management officer.”
And, as this survey reveals, most marketers believe this is the new normal.
The survey was conducted jointly by Forrester and the Business Marketing Association (BMA) among 117 CMOs and VPs of marketing from companies such as Dow Corning, GE, IBM, and Xerox. Laura Ramos of Forrester has released an excellent report that summarizes their findings, provocatively titled B2B CMOs Must Evolve Or Move On.
For the most part, Laura notes, all this change is working in favor of chief marketers. The role of the CMO is bigger and better than ever. Of those surveyed, 78% report that the marketing organization’s influence on corporate strategy is much greater today. 56% are spending more time in front of the company’s board of directors.
It is encouraging evidence that today’s CMO will be tomorrow’s CEO.
But this new age of marketing is still largely terra incognito. One of the other stats from the survey: 97% of the participants agree that marketing must do things that it hasn’t done ever before to be successful. New skills are required throughout the marketing organization, which makes hiring and training challenges more crucial than ever.
It is also forcing marketers to collaborate with a broader set of executive peers and stakeholders across the corporation. One particularly encouraging stat from this survey was that 54% reported that their relationship with IT has increased dramatically during the past two years.
Suggestions that Laura recommends for CMOs navigating this rapidly changing world include:
- Prioritize hiring first and training second
- Give the nod to tech-savvy Millennial traits when recruiting
- Spend more time with IT
- Extend the sales partnership
- Keep your eye on company strategy, not campaign tactics
- Collaborate with peers to get more obsessed about customers
- Evaluate staff and recruit for adaptive skills
- Adopt adaptive leadership habits to transform marketing’s role
The emphasis on adaptive skills and adaptive leadership in those last two points brings us full circle. The motto of modern marketing must be: the only constant is change. It’s a time of punctuated equilibrium in the history of marketing. And Laura’s advice to CMOs ultimately boils down to one word: evolve.
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