- A vast majority of CMOs (91.6%) says companies are either much more (45.8%) or somewhat more (45.8%) prepared to strategically pivot in 2021 compared to before the pandemic began, per an annual survey by Chief Outsiders. The firm matches companies with a "fractional CMO" who provides marketing expertise based on prior experience at major companies.
- Nearly half (48%) of CMOs think economic conditions will have a positive impact on business performance, up from 35% in 2020, and 62.5% think that marketing budgets will increase. However, nearly two-thirds think it's unlikely that businesses will bring more agency work in-house this year.
- Chief Outsiders' survey shows that CMOs are optimistic about the opportunities for growth in an economy that could rebound from pandemic-related challenges, but see companies that have already embraced digital as faring better.
The annual survey by Chief Outsiders found that CMOs are generally optimistic about the economy and its effects on their efforts in 2021, and now view the pandemic's effects as an opportunity for growth amid evolving CMO responsibilities.
The percentage of CMOs who believe that economic conditions will positively impact business performance is up from the survey's findings last year, when concerns about a possible recession were top-of-mind for marketers, even before the pandemic's onset in the U.S. Marketers are split between forecasting that the pandemic will have positive (38.9%), negative (27.8%) or negligible effects (31.9%) on performance in 2021, and are about evenly split on whether the pandemic has created mostly business opportunities (43%) or threats (38.9%).
Nearly all CMOs think the pandemic has made businesses more able to pivot strategically than previously, as the health crisis forced re-evalution of go-to-market strategies, supply chains and other processes. With those lessons learned, companies are now more nimble and able to meet the demands of a shifting landscape, per the survey.
However, the effects of the pandemic have accelerated changes to the CMO role. Companies will look to marketers for strategy development and planning; sales and marketing alignment; customer experience and insight; brand strategy and tactics; and content creation and management. CMOs will be expected to manage, among other things, growth strategies, digital technology selection and customer engagement tactics. These increased and changing responsibilities are expected to be done alongside existing agency partners, with a 65.7% saying increased in-housing is unlikely, up from last year's 61% finding.
As seen in other surveys, spending on digital advertising is almost universally expected to rise (94%) in 2021, but 78.5% of CMOs are finding it difficult to stay ahead of technological advancements. CMOs expect digital content to be focused on blogging, video, case studies, e-newsletters and online events, while prioritizing organic search, content marketing, email marketing, paid search and social media.
The Chief Outsiders survey confirms similar findings by a recent whitepaper from M&C Saatchi Group's Clear consultancy that reported CMOs having increased influence due to the effects of the pandemic, but finding that action is needed to preserve those gains.