More than four out of five (84 percent) chief marketing officers allocate less than ten percent of their budgets to social media and non-traditional communications channels, with more than half (55 percent) allocating just 5 percent or less, according to a study by The CMO Club and Hill & Knowlton. At the same time, according to a recent study, the number of adult Internet users who have profiles on social networks quadrupled to 35 percent in 2008, from eight percent in 2005.
The research shows that seven out of ten CMOs say they have medium or high levels of comfort in dealing with non-traditional media, yet few are adopting these strategies for their own brands, missing out on learning from and contributing to the conversations that are taking place online.
“Marketing used to be a linear process, with a discussion flowing from the CMO to the target audience. In today’s digital age, communication has evolved into a new model that requires active listening and engaging in numerous conversations,” says Pete Krainik, CEO of The CMO Club. “CMOs are finding the additions to the job more challenging and the need to lead beyond the marketing department is critical for their success.”
According to a survey of its members, three out of ten (29 percent) of CMOs report having a social media policy that is widely adhered to within their company and a further 31 percent are currently developing a policy. Implementing these policies is proving to be a challenge, with just over a quarter (26 percent) of CMOs stating they have a policy but it is not complied with within their companies.
"Bloggers are the new media trendsetters/reviewers for products and services, a trusted voice by those who follow their posts," says CMO Club member Ted Rubin, chief marketing officer for e.l.f. Cosmetics. "If you empower these consumers to evangelize your brand, establish yourself as a trusted source and give them the tools, they will run with it and lend you their credibility."
Adds Erin Hintz, vice president, worldwide consumer marketing, Symantec Corporation, "While the social media world is new territory for all companies, we already have some best practices with our Norton brand that many CMOs can glean from. Our company has striven to deliver transparency in this space and we work hard to ensure employees understand their role and responsibility."
CMOs report a lack of managing or interacting closely with departments within their businesses and, more importantly, with those responsible for communicating with key audiences. Nearly half of all CMOs questioned (48 percent) said they have no formal interaction with the department responsible for NGOs, for example. More than a third (39 percent) do not formally liaise with their investor relations departments, and only around a fifth (22 percent) do collaborate with those responsible for liaising with financial analysts.
“I have found that in the past several years, my job has required greater collaboration with colleagues running other departments to create a more unified brand message to all of our audiences, both external and internal,” says member Kent Huffman, chief marketing officer, BearCom Wireless. ”Today, brand and reputation go hand-in-hand, and no company can afford not to work seamlessly as a team.”
The majority of CMOs (95 percent) formally track the attitudes or opinions of their customers to their brands, falling to seven out of ten (69 percent) among potential customers. Other non-revenue generating stakeholders take second priority: four out of five CMOs (84 percent) do not gauge the opinions of NGOs; 59 percent do not gauge the general public, and a third (32 percent) do not formally gauge sentiment among their employees.
“The marketers’ job is increasingly challenging and many CMOs still are learning how to engage audiences beyond their customers. Everyone is an influencer in today’s marketplace,” says MaryLee Sachs, U.S. chairman and worldwide director, marketing communications, Hill & Knowlton. “Building advocacy by engaging all audiences can lend a tremendous amount of credibility to any marketing program. A holistic approach helps forge new paths to customers, generating brand loyalty and building critical relationships.”