Marketers' Priorities: The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

It would be natural to assume that the priorities of marketing managers have shifted with the turbulence created by the recession. A closer look at their list of priorities today finds that it looks remarkably similar to priorities we had long before the economy tanked. A survey of Chief Marketing Officers by JupiterResearch and Verse Group reveals that marketing needs have changed very little in recent years. The number one priority: achieving measurable ROI for marketing efforts (50% said that was their priority). The number two priority was developing programs to integrate online and traditional media (43%). Two other priorities that existed pre-recession are translating the brand experience across different touchpoints (32%) and cutting marketing budgets without cutting performance (31%).

What do the study's results say about the state of marketing? Greater accountability for marketing expenditures has been a theme among executives both within and outside the marketing function for years now. Sophisticated analyatics have helped make strides in moving measuring marketing performance from an art to a science, but the priorities identified by CMOs studied suggest there is still much work to be done in this area. The same can be said for better integration of online and traditional media; it has been a challenge since online media came into existence and continues to be somewhat elusive for many marketers.

I suspect if a similar survey of CMOs is conducted five years from now, the results will not change much. I am unsure what that says about marketing and marketers. Are we too resistant to change for it to occur rapidly? Are the challenges too immense to overcome quickly? Or, is it a matter of the priorities being fundamental to the success of the marketing function, meaning that they are the priorities of the past, present, and future?

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