Expert Insight: The Role of Budget in Achieving Key Marketing Objectives [Interview]

The majority of marketers are confident that they will reach their digital marketing objectives in the calendar year, but despite this fact, new research suggests that their budget is still holding them back from exceeding expectations. This is according to the “Reshaping Global Engagement Operations” report, as published by The CMO Council.

For more insight into why this may be the case, we spoke to The CMO Council’s Liz Miller.

The majority of marketers (43%) said that they were “fairly confident” — but not “exceedingly confident” — that they will achieve their strategic goals for the year. Why do you think that this percentage was not higher?

I think more marketers are realists, perhaps understanding that the more things we predict, the more things are unpredictable. I also think marketers are feeling the strain of all the things we can’t or don’t control including things like obtaining that critical single view of the customer that extends beyond marketing-controlled data repositories.

We are confident in dreaming up all of the rich personalized brand experiences based on data we control and delivered through channels we control…but step outside those walls and into the overarching dynamic of the company at large…things get a little less predictable and confidence can waiver. Then ask how well we know all of the local markets that will translate into long term growth…well then all confidence goes out the window.

59% of marketers said that budget limitations were their top issue impacting their organization’s ability to meet the strategic goal of growth. Do you see this changing at all in the future? Why or why not?

This is a great question…and one with no easy answer. For some organizations, I think the budget issue will diminish over time as smart investments into foundational people, platforms and process will begin to deliver the returns that have been expected.

Growth today is a multi-pronged journey, but the fuel that gets us going and accelerates our adventure will always come back to the systems that deliver the data, the people that turn that crude oil into intelligence and the process that take that intelligence and deliver incredible brand experiences across the entirety of the omni-channel landscape.

Those brands will stop seeing budget shortfalls and start reinvesting returns. Now…the “other side” of that picture are brands selectively investing in shiny, burning or random areas. These organizations will always have budget shortcomings and will always lament that the path to success has been blocked by the land of no…aka the CFO.

Only 20% of marketers said they were prepared to meet the needs of the modern customer. Why do you think this is the case? How do you think marketers can improve?

For so many of the CMOs we speak with, the challenge is often trying to fit customer-centered, dynamic, bi-directional, holistic brand experiences and customer engagement into a traditional, siloed, sales-driven, product centric process and operations. Round customer…square enterprise.

This is why so many CMOs have not only taken on the mantle of CX orchestrator and growth driver but also as change agent, working cross-functionally to break down the traditional lanes that kept operational focus on the product or sales goals and orchestrating freshly empowered LOB and functional peers to drive centers of excellence around the customer instead of thru them.

Sounds like a LOT of jargon I know…but CMOs have long been asked to tackle an issue that can’t just be solved with better marketing. They have to serve as a change agent that can rally an enterprise around a new strategy and mindset.

The CEO has, hopefully, set and communicated that agenda…now the CMO must rally the troops without threatening individual authority. That’s a tough agenda item to add onto an already full docket. But we are seeing success which is why I believe you HAVE 20% of marketers feeling super confident in their strategies to meet customer needs as they flex, evolve and continue to advance.

The majority of marketers (52%) said that their top strategic focus in the coming year is to drive growth through digital transformation and modernization. Do you see most marketers achieving this goal within the next 12 months? Why or why not?

No, but not because they won’t achieve growth or won’t experience great success over the next 12 months. The finish line of achievement will just keep moving mainly because it is being dictated by a constantly evolving customer. Transformation just is not a destination…it is a constant state of being.

The sooner we all get comfortable with that, the easier achieving what modernization means for our organizations and our customers can become.

CX is the new hamster wheel…only problem is that our customer is that kid hopped up on Kool-aid spinning the wheel while laughing maniacally as we just keep running. For for marketers and their organizations to be successful, we need to start enjoying the run and be prepared to be on the wheel for a long, long time.

Among most modern customers (57%), data security, privacy and accountability are their top demands. Do you see this changing at all in the near future? Why or why not?

I actually see this accelerating and spreading. GDPR, while a giant groan and eye-rolling headache for most CIOs, CTOs, CISOs and CMOs was an amazing learning curve and opportunity for education for consumers. Customers now have a better understanding of how organizations can, should and will utilize their data and what they can, should and will get in return by way of value.

Before, so many customers were skeptics, likely more full of fear than loathing over what was being done to their private data. But thanks to the massive investments into public education over GDPR regulations, how to file complaints and what is and is not a violation, data became a bit less scary. I think as other countries, states and regions establish their own legislation around data and privacy, hopefully investing in similar approaches to education the public, data will some being so mysterious and terrifying…and accountability will be an expectation with a clear reward and penalty.

What was the most interesting finding/statistic in the report, in your opinion? Only 17% of marketers believe their operational models are totally aligned with their agency partners…17%! That is a significant misalignment that comes with a massive price tag…and a significant call to action for both marketers and agencies. A change needs to happen on both sides of the equation.


Liz Miller brings a varied career that spans over 25 years in the Marketing, Sports and Entertainment, Retail, Health, Beauty and Personal Care spaces. Miller joined the operating partner of the CMO Council, GlobalFluency, in 2006, leading consumer marketing services engagements, quickly assuming the role of marketing and operations leader for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. As the Senior Vice President of Marketing, Miller oversees all business strategy, marketing, research and program operations, as well as serving as the lead analyst for all research initiatives and reports. Along with oversight of event, content and digital teams, Miller can most often be found hosting one of the CMO Council’s many executive Dinner Dialogs or presenting CMO Council research findings at global conferences and thought leadership events.

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