Marketing Budgets Stable, Efficiency Not: Customer anxiety and cutbacks are the biggest factors influencing marketing budget allocation in 2009, according to the CMO Council's annual Marketing Outlook study.
The Council's audit of more than 650 marketers worldwide revealed that, in spite of this anxiety, budgets are still holding up as dollars are directed against growing and retaining market share. Additional findings:
Customer anxiety and cutbacks are the No. 1 force impacting budget allocations in 2009, followed by slower selling cycles and reduced consumer spending. Only 14.9% point to financial market disarray as a determining factor.
Retraining and developing existing staff is the leading strategy for acquiring or sharpening expertise in digital marketing competencies, with 62.9% of respondents electing training over recruiting new talent (28.6%) or outsourcing (17.1%).
The top two target areas of investment for 2009 are e-mail marketing (44.9%) and online surveys and research (33.2%). Only 10.1% are investing in master data, 12.8% in marketing operational systems and 9.3% in marketing resource or process management solutions.
Growing or retaining market share is the leading executive mandate for marketers (47.6%), followed by lowering costs and improving go-to-market efficiencies (43.5%) and improving customer insight and retention (32.5%).
The majority of marketers are sticking to old online measures like page views and registrations (64.6%), site traffic and volume (58.4%) and search prominence (45.2%).
Digital marketing and new media dominates demand generation and advertising spend allocation priorities for the coming year, with budgets aimed at online and Web 2.0 initiatives almost 50% higher than spend earmarked for traditional media.
Just 9.3% of marketers rate their e-metrics and measurement capabilities as excellent; 35.6% of marketers are questioning spend, struggling to quantify value or are simply not doing a good job of converting visitors to leads or to customers.
Source: CMO Council
Hiring Managers Fear the Unknown: According to a study by Development Dimensions International, two-thirds of surveyed hiring managers believe that missing red flags when interviewing job candidates will come back to haunt them. What's more:
44% rely on their gut instinct to make a decision;
47% make hiring decisions in 30 minutes or less; and,
30%-40% don't recognize illegal questions.
Going on the Defensive: A growing number of major global companies are investing substantial resources to manage their reputation risk and have increased their efforts to do so over the last three years, according to a new report from The Conference Board. The study found that:
Reputation risk should be managed throughout the organization. Although communication is of critical importance in responding to a risk event, a company's reputation should be considered during the preparation and execution of strategy and new projects, which hasn't been the case in most companies.
Assessing reputation risks is a top challenge. 59% indicated that assessing the perceptions and concerns of stakeholders was an extremely or very significant issue, making it the highest-ranked challenge.
Media monitoring has become more sophisticated. Today, there are tools to assess whether coverage is positive, neutral or negative; the credibility of publications; the prominence of coverage, etc.
Efforts are being made to quantify the value of reputation. A select group of companies is making progress in this area by working with specialist consulting firms to quantify the impact of reputation on share price.
Social media are gaining influence, but most companies are ignoring them. Although consumers and investors are increasingly gathering information from blogs, online forums and social networking sites, only 34% of the survey respondents said they extensively monitor such sites and only 10% actively participated in them.
Source: The Conference Board