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When I wrote my book on Marketing Planning (“Marketing Planning by Design”, published at Wiley Publishers) 2 years ago, I thought that this area normally should be pretty elaborated in marketing departments across different industries. But still, while conducting workshops on marketing planning with CMOs in Europe and the US within our CMO Community, I discovered that the major problem areas within marketing planning such as an inadequate grounding in terms of the content, relevance for the market, up-to-dateness or alignment across different organisational units (such as sales or corporate strategy) still exist. Despite all discussions and concepts over the last couple of years, marketing often faces issues with accountability and its – perceived – contribution towards overall corporate success. Even the simple tracking of KPIs is pretty often still in its infancy.   

Talking to ca. 200 CMOs over the last couple of months, the focus of the majority of marketing departments is now – after the summer break – on stepwise changing and enhancing the entire marketing planning process for the year to come in order to overcome major obstacles of the past. In particular, we have gotten feedback that CMOs are currently trying to: 

  • lead the process of planning … and not get dragged behind it after a corporate strategy department has kicked-off the overall planning process;
  • have a stronger focus not only on a content-driven planning process, but also have precise objectives plus a permanent measurement process for all KPIs in place;
  • align earlier than ever before with Sales and Corporate Strategy … in order to internally evangelize early enough the value add and the contribution of marketing to next years P&L;
  • best anticipate key questions during the planning phase under changing business fundamentals – using more in-depth research, analytics, and experiments, gather as much insight in advance in order to base recommendations with more customer-driven insights;
  • have a more profound basis for the initial budget proposal than ever before … not just setting up a top-down wish-list, but rather determine the budget bottom-up with every element having a business case that estimates the payback and makes all assumptions clear for all to see;
  • proactively seek input from others in corporate strategy, sales, finance, and other business units during the assembling of the plan – to ensure all questions and concerns are understood upfront and proactively incorporated into the plan;
  • always have several alternatives being analyzed for all major initiatives and campaigns in order to professionally survive also very nasty budget and planning discussions with the CEO as well as the CFO;
  • and overall …: there is a strong tendency not to neglect the internal alignment process and communication this time … shifting away from a pure external market focus to being an internal “Marketing Evangelist”.

But in the majority of meetings and workshops we see also another component to that: According to studies from SpencerStuart and other consulting companies, it is jarring to note that the average tenure for CMOs at the top 100 branded companies is just ca 2 years, while CEO have 4.5 years. Based on their research, less than 20 percent of CMOs for the world’s top brands have been with their companies for more than three years. This means: CMOs strive to get marketing planning right this time … since not only budgets and marketing reputation might be under scrutiny and might be reconsidered, but also persons. Today even more than ever before.

Further interesting readings:

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