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No excuses, CMOs. You’ve got the funds. Now start spending and get it done. Marketing budgets are expected to grow by 8.7% this year, nearly reaching the eight-year high of 8.9%, according to the Deloitte CMO Survey released last August. 

Even marketers themselves are confident. Deloitte found marketers expect to drive growth through market penetration with 54% of budgets dedicated to this growth strategy, especially B2C Services companies. More money, more marketing, more leads for sales, and more company growth, right? 

If only it were so easy. Back to the real world: chief marketing officers still have their challenges with which to contend: demonstrating financial impact of marketing teams, understanding customers points of views, collaborating with other departments and gaining support for marketing programs.

“At the end of the day you need to show how your tactics roll up to ringing the cash register,” said Jaime Punishill, chief marketing officer of Lionbridge

“So the KPIs that drive revenue growth at your organization could be pipeline velocity, average contract value, year-over-year account growth, net new business, etc, etc. Then show how the marketing tactics you’ve employed impact those KPIs. Every organization will be different and every board and business will care about some numbers over the others. The key is understanding your drivers and stacking your efforts against them, then showing the before and after, or the A/B test that shows impact with and without the tactic or the spend,” he said.

Challenging But Exciting Times Ahead

What else is top of mind for CMOs as we enter a new decade? CMSWire caught up with a fellow CMO leading marketing efforts at a marketing technology company and a former CMO who shared some optimism for the role despite the countless expectations placed on the marketing leader’s shoulders.

“It’s so fascinating when I think about the evolving role of a CMO today,” sad Rose Hamilton, founder and CEO of Compass Rose Ventures and a former CMO. “Ten years ago the plethora of data just didn't exist. I mean it was there, but the journey for the customer was not so fractional, and you didn't have so many different touch points and engagements to pull together all into one spot.” 

The big challenge for CMOs and their marketing teams? How you aggregate all that data, unlock it, find the unmet needs and turn data into insights. “But the flip side, I would say from my shoes, it's never been a more exciting time, primarily because you have the data. So now the trick and the challenge is not just technology. There's plenty of technology. We all know it changes every day. However, it's the people, it's the process, and of course it's the systems but really getting an organization ready to be able to take on this large volume of data at the constant pace of change is really crucial.”

One of biggest struggles she learned as CMO was being able to really think organizationally about all the departments beyond the marketing discipline. “If you think about it,” Hamilton said, “the role of a CMO is to grow a business at the end of the day.”

How Can I Generate Pipeline and Revenue?

So what's a day in a life like for a CMO? Norman Guadagno, chief marketing officer of marketing technology provider Acoustic, said in an interview with CMSWire he spends most of his time thinking about generating revenue for his company. That, he said, is "first and foremost." "How do I make sure that I can do that efficiently?” he added. “What tools and technologies do I need?”

Most of a typical day is consumed by how Acoustic as a company is going to effectively generate pipeline and revenue. “And I am not exaggerating,” Guadagno said. “That is a part of every single day because as a CMO, I own generating pipeline for the business. I think about what I and my team are doing to generate pipeline and revenue.”

Related Article: Why the CMO Role Isn't Doomed After All

How Am I Collaborating for Marketing Operations?

Guadagno also interacts regularly with his marketing and other teams. Marketing operations is top of mind. “And by that I mean, what tools, systems, processes, outside vendors, outside agencies do we engage with, to make sure that we're really efficient?” Guadagno said. “Because budgets are tight, and I have to get the most value I can from everything that we do.” 

How Can We Improve Products?

Product, of course, is important, too. Guadagno views product analysis, competitor product analysis, reading analyst reports, preparing for analysts reports and reviewing internal messaging and positioning as crucial tasks. “Those things are critical as well,” he said. “And then there's a set of other things that come up like I have to go meet with an advertising agency or a PR firm, do press interviews, and work on presentations for the board of directors once a quarter.”

Related Article: CMO Speak: Is Voice Search Important Yet?

Career Built in Technology

Marketing technology’s also on the mind, naturally, for Guadagno. Of course, Acoustic is a martech company, so there’s that. He has to walk the walk as a CMO. But Guadagno’s also passionate about technology himself, having “built my career in technology” through things like programming, coding and working on complex developer tools with Microsoft. He’s constantly looking at data and reporting for Acoustic’s marketing programs, keeping a close eye on the company’s website. One of his strategies with martech selection? If his team can accomplish 80% of a desired task with existing tools in their martech stack, they don’t need to buy a new, shiny tool.

“I am an anomaly as a CMO, I believe, because I came up and built my career in the technology space,” he said. “So I understand technology deeply. But I think every CMO needs to either be involved in understanding the tools or have a super strong right-hand person that is helping them to understand the right tools and the best use for those tools.”

Confident Future?

So what’s the future like for CMOs like Guadagno? Gartner in its Annual CMO Spend Survey 2019-2020 Research found, “despite signs of future financial uncertainty, CMOs feel confident regarding future macro environmental conditions. Most CMOs surveyed believe the global economic outlook will have a positive impact on their business in the next 18 to 24 months.”

Asked where he would target future marketing efforts if he had unlimited marketing funds, Guadagno said he'd spend it on brand awareness. Acoustic was formed by Centerbridge Partners’ acquisition of IBM’s marketing and commerce software offerings in July. It's young. 

"I need to build awareness," he said. "And there's no substitute for awareness. We happen to be a company that most of our targets don't know we exist yet because the brand was created in July. So I would spend it on awareness and getting people to see the value of what we offer, whether I bring them in digitally or through some other mechanism. For those that companies that have awareness, those dollars go elsewhere, maybe improving technology and maybe building more demand generation, but for me, I want people to know who my brand is. Because awareness creates efficiency in all of the other marketing activities that you generate."