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Agile Marketing: Why Should CMOs Go Agile to Innovate Faster, Better, and Cheaper

How can so much change happens in so little time?

That is the question that most CMOs are left asking themselves this year.

An amazing indicator of how much change we have seen this year is Deloitte releasing another version of its CMO Survey piece already. This pivot had to happen since most of the findings from the February survey have been invalidated by the coronavirus pandemic.

This is indicative of how the current age CMO has to move as fast to keep up with the market or get left behind.

What the Non-Agile CMO Looks Like

We hate to say this but most of the CMOs in the business right now are not agile.

A lot of them are not this way for lack of wanting. The organizational setup, though, is keeping them from realizing their true potentials.

Enough data on hand suggests that no CMO should let that be their limiting force anyways. We do not mean to scare you, but you have the least C-suite executive tenure as a CMO.

On average, you have 3 years on your books while other C-suite players can stick around for 5 years or more. So, it doesn’t matter if the organization did not let you fully flex your agile side. You will most likely get blamed for the lack of clear direction and marketing movement regardless.

The Danger of Never-Ending Projects

When is enough ever enough?

Every new CMO has an idea of what that shiny new thing that they can do for better ROI is. This spans the creation of a new website to rebranding the company – depending on what that means these days.

While those are not bad in themselves, execution is as key as thinking about it. This is where the major challenges start surfacing.

The CMO might be the one to come up with the idea, but they won’t be the one to pass off on it. Unfortunately, they are not the only ones with an idea also. Thus, the CMO’s take on rebranding is not the only thing that often goes onto the planning sheet.

This is the point where other players start surfacing with ideas on how they believe the rebranding – or other suggested projects – can go. When there are too many cooks on the broth, there is bound to be a handful of mistakes.

The damage here is that those mistakes are not attributed to the entire brand. This is the office of the CMO. Before you know it, they have spent all this time working on something that never seems to end. Their 3 years is soon up – and they are shown the door.

Yet another day in the lives of the CMO club players?

Quest for Results

Marketing is not a magic wand that the CMO can just wave around to make something happen in an instant. They need the time to understand the role that they have stepped into.

Not every role is as the last. While the company might look the same as every other one in the industry, there are a lot of subtle factors to take into consideration. From the existing marketing strategies to unique product offerings and members of staff, the new CMO has a lot to understand.

Today’s business landscape does not truly understand this about the CMO, though. There is almost always the need for validation and results.

That leads many CMOs into developing roadmaps for flash projects that will bring results in the short term. Any executive worth their salt will know that short term success is not indicative of growth at all. In fact, it could blind the brand to long term problems that are being pushed aside in favor of instant gratification.

The non-agile marketer does not understand that they do not need to bring the top results to the table in their first few months. Instead, a steady show of ROI on all the processes in question reassures all the major players and shareholders that great plans are underway.

An Inevitable Time Squeeze

The first few months have already been taken up by trying to understand the different departments within the company. The CMO – non-agile ones, at least – spend a huge chunk of the remaining year trying to implement projects that they have outlined above.

It seems that nothing ever gets done, though.

There is just too much internal feedback to get every project done fast. Every department seems to want a hand in the pie and top management is not relinquishing autonomy over the project either.

By the end of the first year, the CMO knows that they have to start showing something for their role. The average tenure might be three years, but that does not mean they cannot be let go in one.

That is where the sudden quest for short term results make their way into the mix. It is also the point where a series of bad decisions tend to be made.

At the end of the day, it is almost like the CMO starts tunneling their way out of the company. By the time the third year is done – figuratively or literally – they would have dug themselves so deep it is almost impossible to crawl out.

The let-go is inevitable at this stage.

Agility: Rewriting the CMO History

The special CMO Survey report from Deloitte covers more than 270 marketers holding senior levels in their respective brands.

A majority of these marketers believe that smaller businesses will find it easier to bounce back from the impact of the pandemic. That is an interesting find, considering that we would have expected the bigger companies to have better resources to make this bounce back even faster.

The reason behind the support for smaller companies? Nimbleness.

These smaller companies are not immune to change. In fact, they embrace it and quickly pivot to meet the needs of their market. They have a constantly rolling process that allows them to take trends, adapt to it, and run with the adaptation for as long as they can keep it.

In other words, they are mastering the wheels of agility – and doing so with grace.

If CMOs hope to change history at all, they would become the small business mind in the world of big brands. As Jeff Bezos, the CEO and founder of Amazon would say, these CMOs will remain in Day One.

Embracing Speed

A common mistake that brands make when building out new products is who they are building for.

The old CMO model, discussed above, showed the strong impact of internal feedback on what goes to the audience. Even when the CMO suggests rebranding, what usually happens is an implementation of what the people in-house discuss.

That is not the way to agility, and that is surely not the way to get things done faster.

First, the CMO needs to understand that they are serving the needs of their consumer base.

A joint AgileSherpas and Aprimo report reveal that agile marketing teams released products 53% times faster than their non-agile counterparts. That is impressive but not as impressive as what comes next.

It is one thing to release things faster – and it is another thing to release what the market is interested in.

Going back to the same report cited above, 51% of these agile marketing teams were able to get faster feedback and change gears.

That means they did not have to spend all the time in the world on a product that does not appeal to their audience. They, instead, got real-time feedback that helped them optimize fast and release even faster.

Impossible is Nothing

Getting better consistently looks impossible from an average point of view. The good news is that nothing about the agile process passes off as average.

8 out of 10 CMOs agree that they got to deliver a better, more optimized product to their end-users. The consumer is the heart of any business, so satisfying such a huge number means that something is going right internally.

The fact that Deloitte’s insight for the year – the second one, if we are counting – supports nimbleness is a huge ticker. That reminds us of an older Aprimo report (with Forbes) detailing how 26% of senior agile marketers highlight an increasingly flexible approach to customer needs.

The pieces all start to fall in place right now.

Break the Bank, Not!

Businesses measure value in net figures.

  • How much did we spend, and how much did we get back?
  • What is the value of our acquisitions on the back of the expenses?
  • Can we justify this spending? – and more

Questions like the above make the decision of letting a CMO go much easier. The old version of the CMO, that is.

In one of our insights in the CMO Corner, we discussed how CMOs can get in the good books of their CFOs. That piece became necessary after we saw the friction that can exist between these two offices.

With one needing to spend and the other not seeing the value, there is bound to be bad blood between both departments.

Well, not if there is a clear-cut value proposition in sight.

Building something for a year only to find out that it doesn’t work is a huge waste of time, talent, and money. Agile marketing sprints have much smaller timeframes and goals. This structure makes it possible for the CMO to iterate different processes multiple times within the same year, ger feedback, and build something more stable.

That way, agile CMOs can launch a marketing assault on multiple fronts with actionable ROI to show for it. The bigger results can take some time to come in, but the value has already been established. That spurs top executives into throwing more financial weight behind such a project.

In the long run, not breaking the bank does not have to mean not spending as much as you need. It could just mean providing more value than your expenses, offsetting any spending that could have taken place on the road to creating such value.

Less CMO Churn: A Solid Strategy

There are probably as many marketing strategies as there are businesses out there. Retaining the CMO for longer is a marketing strategy that should cut across multiple industries.

The average CMO needs time to birth all the right concepts that they have in mind. Some of these concepts might have even be birthed but require time for their proper fleshing out. It would be wrong to replace/ evict the CMO before they get the time to make all their good intentions happen.

The consumers are not left out of feeling the brunt of replacing CMOs either.

They are the section subjected to haphazard marketing changes, inconsistent products, and a lack of streamline. The inconsistency makes their buyer journey even tougher, which could result in customer churn and loss of loyalty for your brand also.

No matter how you look at it, embracing a CMO and sitting tight with them for the long run is underrated. The CMO, on the other hand, needs to know their stuff too. In this time and age, that includes being agile.

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