Christine Moorman reveals the latest CMO Survey at CMO Smart

How often do you get a chance to interact with the creator of an industry-standard survey 24 hours after its most recent results are published?

That’s what happened at CMO Smart on August 29, when Christine Moorman, Founder and Managing Director of The CMO Survey, spoke with members of AMA Chicago 24 hours after the release of the latest survey.

Moorman said the CMO Survey “reflects trends and data, but it certainly doesn’t have all the answers.” So several times during her presentation, she made a point of stopping to let audience groups discuss the data and share their observations with the room.

It was an evening full of insight and “a-ha” moments. Here are some questions that were posed and pondered during the session.

Why is The CMO Survey essential?

While anyone in marketing has access to any number of surveys, The CMO Survey is different. Its only participants are top marketers—Chief Marketing Officers, VPs of Marketing, etc.—in for-profit U.S. companies, so its results truly reflect marketing decision-making at the highest level.

Plus, the survey compiles results gathered every six months over the past 10 years, giving marketing leaders a rare chronological glimpse at trends as they develop and mature.

Moorman said, “It’s a forward looking survey that tracks marketing excellence and helps establish benchmarks. It’s important that it’s non-commercial, so it can be an objective source of info about the field. It can take a critical look at the industry, because it’s not selling people with results.”

And just as Moorman—who is also T. Austin Finch, Sr. Professor of Business Administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business— says, “I never discount the fact that my students collectively know more than I do,” there’s little question that the CMO Survey reveals more about the future of our industry than any single marketing executive could ever foretell.

Are CMOs less optimistic than investors?

The first chart Moorman shared was a 10-year plot of marketer optimism, answering the question How optimistic are you about the overall U.S. economy on a scale with 0 being least optimistic and 100 most optimistic?

With the dip in the last six months, marketing leaders’ optimism has essentially been flat for the last five years—a period during which the U.S. stock market has risen 77 percent.

“Marketers are the outward-looking part of an organization,” Moorman said. “This chart displays some real uncertainty.”

What’s the most important factor for growth?

We marketers spend so much time collecting, managing and interpreting data, it must be the single most important factor for growth, right?

Wrong! According to CMOs, “Having the right data” is the least important factor for organic growth. The most important? “Having the right talent”—by a nearly 4-to-1 ratio over data.

Later, discussing talent, Moorman observed that more companies cited creativity as the top skill they prioritized when hiring marketing talent. “I was pleasantly surprised,” she said. “I expected ‘martech platform experience’ or ‘data science background’ to dominate.”

Do we get our money’s worth from digital marketing?

It should surprise no one that marketing leaders predict substantial growth in digital and social media marketing. What may be surprising is that they still have trouble demonstrating these strategies’ effectiveness.

“Marketers are very bullish in this kind of spending,” Moorman said. “But getting performance from spending is more challenging. There’s not as much clarity about what works and what doesn’t.”

The percentage of marketers unable to show a quantitative impact remains far higher than that of those who can. That said, Moorman said she was encouraged by a sharp uptick in the lower number, suggesting that the gap may be closing.

Should marketers be politically active?

While discussions were lively about other topics, the noise level in the room reached its peak when Moorman opened the floor to questions about marketing leadership.

The percentage of marketing leaders who say it’s appropriate for their brands to take a stance on politically charged issues dropped since the February, 2018 CMO Survey, but more than three-quarters still say “yes.”

Moorman pointed out that the number dips sharply for companies with annual revenues between a half billion and one billion dollars, suggesting that bigger companies may have less to fear from political backlash. Meanwhile, for niche players, “if you want to attract millennials, as customers or employees, you have to stand for something.”

It was a charged ending to a fascinating, insightful presentation.

If you’re a top marketer in a for-profit U.S. company, you should participate in the next CMO survey. Your outlook is invaluable!

CMO Smart emcee Steven Handmaker: Create winning experiences and make people happy

Steven Handmaker, Chief Marketing Officer of Assurance, will emcee AMA Chicago’s CMO Smart at the Loyola University Chicago Quinlan School of Business on August 29, 2018.

CMO Smart will feature a first-hand look of the new CMO Survey from its Founder and Managing Director, Christine Moorman. Event emcee Steven Handmaker calls the study valuable because “It’s always telling to get a sense of what’s trending within the industry, relating to everything from spend and focus to the impact on the bottom line and hiring trends.

“For marketers, especially at the C-level, the more ammo we have, the better. This information is always very useful for building the case for the directions we want to go.”

Here are some more thoughts from Handmaker on the event, the Survey, and the challenges facing today’s marketing leaders.

Owning the overall brand experience

“CMO Smart is all about data-driven information that marketing leaders can use to make big-picture decisions,” says Handmaker.

Some of the data from the CMO Survey that will be shared at the event, as it happens, describes a shift in the roles played by people called “marketing leaders.”

“It’s gratifying to see marketers making their way into C-suites and boardrooms—that’s a trend that’s on the increase,” says Handmaker.  “We’re starting to see more length in tenure, too—the CMO position used to be among the shortest, two years and you were gone.

“Marketers are also gaining a bigger hand in technology spend. We’re being looked at for roles beyond just new biz acquisition, and asked to really own the overall brand experience of prospects and clients as well. Our sphere continues to grow. It’s a moving target in terms of new challenges.”

The marketer as salesperson

Those new challenges include functions that used to fall exclusively to teams outside the marketing department.

“There’s an entire purchase channel that is being erased,” says Handmaker, describing the change he’s seen since his early days in B2B marketing. “We were effective to a point; then we had to rely on the sales force to make connections and bring customers over the goal line. That’s not the way much of the world works today.

“Today’s B2B marketers are being asked, how can you assist the process all the way through the customer cycle? It’s incredibly experiential. Creativity and focusing on brand are part and parcel of the process throughout.

“We’ve gone from the marketer being responsible for getting the customer from A to B, to the marketer being the salesperson. Our sphere is growing bigger, and all of it is important.”

“An incredibly non-tech person”

“For all the technology in the world, I remain an incredibly non-tech person in believing that a great interactive experience is still the way to win hearts and minds,” says Handmaker. “My stories of successes that make you loyal forever didn’t happen because of tech, but because of something human.

“Our job is to create and systematize those experiences.”

He describes an experience at a famous New York hotel where an associate’s thoughtful gesture more than overcame the hotel’s physical shortcomings.

“The quality of the room didn’t matter—our experience went from a 5 to a 12, and it cost them $20 and five minutes.

“That is the opportunity that exists for marketers to look comprehensively at areas where they can make an impact. It’s empowering people with the autonomy to create winning experiences and make people happy.”

AMA Chicago presents CMO Smart—August 29, 2018

Steven Handmaker is our emcee at CMO Smart on August 29, with keynote speaker Christine Moorman sharing results and insights from the August 2019 CMO Survey. Join us.

AMA Chicago invites you to CMO Smart for an exclusive first-hand look at new data from The CMO Survey, the leading-edge survey of national marketing trends. Join top Chicagoland CMOs in a conversation with Christine Moorman of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the lead researcher on the study.

Reserve your seat now!

Why marketing analytics hasn’t lived up to its promise

By: Carl F. Medina and Christine Moorman

We see a paradox in two important analytics trends. The most recent results from The CMO Survey conducted by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and sponsored by Deloitte LLP and the American Marketing Association reports that the percentage of marketing budgets companies plan to allocate to analytics over the next three years will increase from 5.8% to 17.3%—a whopping 198% increase. These increases are expected despite the fact that top marketers report that the effect of analytics on company-wide performance remains modest, with an average performance score of 4.1 on a seven-point scale, where 1=not at all effective and 7=highly effective. More importantly, this performance impact has shown little increase over the last five years, when it was rated 3.8 on the same scale.

How can it be that firms have not seen any increase in how analytics contribute to company performance, but are nonetheless planning to increase spending so dramatically? Based on our work with member companies at the Marketing Science Institute, two competing forces explain this discrepancy—the data used in analytics and the analyst talent producing it. We discuss how each force has inhibited organizations from realizing the full potential of marketing analytics and offer specific prescriptions to better align analytics outcomes with increased spending.

Christine Moorman is our keynote speaker at CMO Smart on August 29. She’ll be sharing results and insights from the August 2019 CMO Survey. Join us to hear from her.

The Data Challenge

Data are becoming ubiquitous, so at first blush it would appear that analytics should be able to deliver on its promise of value creation. However, data grows on its own terms, and this growth is often driven by IT investments, rather than by coherent marketing goals. As a result, data libraries often look like the proverbial cluttered closet, where it is hard to separate the insights from the junk.

In most companies, data is not integrated. Data collected by different systems is disjointed, lacking variables to match the data, and using different coding schemes. For example, data from mobile devices and data from PCs might indicate similar browsing paths, but if the consumer data and the data on pages browsed cannot be matched, it is hard to determine browsing behavior. That’s why understanding how data will ultimately be integrated and measured should be considered prior to collecting the data, precisely because it will lower the cost of matching.

What’s more, most companies have huge amounts of data, making it hard to process in a timely manner. Merging data across a vast number of customers and interactions involves “translating” code, systems, and dictionaries. Once cohered, vast amounts of information can overwhelm processing power and algorithms. Many approaches exist to scale analytics, but collecting data that cannot be analyzed is inefficient.

An irony of having too much data is that you often have too little information. The more data and fields collected, the less they overlap, creating “holes” in the data. For example, two customers with the same level of transactions could have very different shares of wallet. While one represents a selling opportunity, the other might offer little potential gain. Data should be designed with an eye towards imputation — so the holes in the data can filled as needed to drive strategy.

Perhaps worst of all, data is often not causal. For example, while it is true that search advertising can be correlated with purchase because customers are in a motivated state to buy, it does not follow that ads caused sales. Even if the firm did not advertise, consumers are motivated to buy, so how does one know whether the ads were effective? Worse, as data grows, these problems compound. Without the right analytic approach, no amount of investment will translate to insights.

Companies should do two things to harness the power of analytics in their marketing functions. First, rather than create data and then decide what to do with it, firms should decide what to do first, and then which data they need to do it. This means better integrating marketing and IT, and developing systems around the information needs of the senior management team instead of creating a culture of “capture data and pray.”

Second, companies should create an integrated 360-degree view of the customer that considers every customer behavior from the time the alarm rings in the morning until they go to bed in the evening. Every potential engagement point, for both communication and purchase, should be captured. Only then can firms completely understand their customers via analytics, and develop customized experiences to delight them. The CMO Survey we referenced above shows that firms’ performance on this type of integration has not improved over the last five years, challenging companies’ ability to answer the most important questions about their customers.

The Data Analyst Challenge

The CMO Survey also found that only 1.9% of marketing leaders reported that their companies have the right talent to leverage marketing analytics. Good data analysts, like good data, are hard to find. Sadly, the overall rating on a seven-point scale, where 1 is “does not have the right talent” and 7 is “has the right talent,” has not changed between the first time the question was asked in 2013 (Mean 3.4, SD =1.7) and 2017 (Mean 3.7, SD =1.7).

The gap between the promise and the reality of analytics points to a disconnect that needs resolution. Companies need to better align their data strategy and data analyst talent to realize the potential that analytics can bring to marketing managers. In the absence of talent, even great data can lie fallow and prevent a firm from harnessing the full potential of the data. What are some of the characteristics that companies should look for in good data scientists? They should:

Clearly define the business problem. Managers who rely on data scientists to know what might be possible to do with the data often find great value in simply having that person help define the problem. For example, a marketer coming to a data analyst asking questions about driving conversions might not realize that there’s also data at the top of the purchase funnel that might be even more germane to driving long-term sales. Rather than taking requests as they are stated, data analysts should take requests as they should be asked, integrating advice tightly with the needs of the company. For example, a request to assess how marketing promotions affect sales should also account for the effect of promotions on brand equity.

Understand how algorithms and data map to business problems. Companies will see more effective data analytics if teams are clear on firm objectives, informed of the strategy, sensitive to organizational structure, and exposed to customers. To enable this understanding, data analysts should spend physical time outside of data analytics, perhaps visiting customers to give them an understanding of market requirements, attending market planning meetings to better appreciate the company’s goals, and helping to ensure data (IT), data analytics, and marketing are all aligned.

Understand the company’s goals. Data analytics is beset by multiple requests, like a waiter serving too many customers. A clear recognition of a firm’s goals enables data analysts to prioritize projects and allocate time to those that are the most important (those that have the highest marginal value to a firm). Requests should be centralized, and then prioritized by a) whether the findings have the potential to change the way things are done and b) the economic consequences of such changes. Several companies develop standardized forms to ensure requests are assessed on an equal footing. An attendant benefit of this process is that it mitigates the potential for opportunistic research clients to approach analysts asking them to conduct a study to support a preconceived strategy for political reasons, instead of deciding between strategies that are in the best interests of the firm.

Communicate insights, not facts. Communication theory tells us that the transmitter and receiver of information must share a common domain of knowledge for information to be transmitted. This means analysts need to understand what the firm’s managers can understand. Small font sizes, complex figures and equations, the use of jargon, and an emphasis on the modeling process instead of insights and explanations are common errors when presenting analyses. Why should one use a complicated model to present information when a simple infographic would suffice? Presentations should be organized around insights, rather than analytic approaches. This is another reason it is critical for analysts to connect externally with customers and internally with the managers using their work. Plus, instead of reporting a “parameter estimate,” an analyst should communicate how results point to tangible strategic actions. This requires analysts to structure their analysis in a decision framework that helps managers assess best and worst case scenarios.

Develop an instinct for mapping the variation in the data to the business questions. That means two things. First, analysts need a comprehensive understanding of all the relevant drivers (e.g., marketing and environmental factors) and outcomes (e.g., purchase funnel metrics). For example, to ascertain the effect of advertising on sales, one would need to recognize that concurrent changes in product design can affect sales, lest one misattribute the effect of product changes to the advertising that announces them. Second, analysts must have a means to ensure that drivers lead to outcomes instead of outcomes leading to drivers. Once again, this requires the analyst to understand the nature of the markets being analyzed. Regarding the latter, no complicated model that purports to control for missing information can ever compensate fully for lack of causal variation. Likes drive sales and sales drive likes. However, disentangling the two means having some factor that can independently manipulate one and not the other. 

Identify the best tool for the problem. On the analytics side, it goes without saying that years of training and practice are necessary. One cannot play an instrument without learning it, and the same is true for analysts. Most important is knowing which tool, of the many available, is best for which problem. At a very granular level, experimental methods are especially adept at assessing causality; supervised machine learning excels at prediction where non-supervised machine learning can decompose non-numerical stimuli into tags or attributes for further analysis. Economics and psychology afford deep insights into the nature of consumer behavior, and statistics can help us excel at inference. A strong understanding of marketing grounds all of these tools and disciplines in the business context necessary to produce effective advice.

Span skill boundaries. Some marketing analysts excel at math and coding, and some excel at framing issues, developing explanations, and connecting to business implications. A far smaller set excel at both. Companies either need to wrap these variegated skills into one person through training and accumulating different types of experiences, or, more likely, assemble a team that is sufficiently facile with the techniques that they can interact productively, ensuring that there is some mechanism to match the approach (and the analyst) to the problem. This match requires senior talent, with the breadth of perspective to align analytical resources and business problems.

In light of the exponential growth in customer, competitor, and marketplace information, companies face an unprecedented opportunity to delight their customers by delivering the right products and services to the right people at the right time and the right format, location, devices, and channels. Realizing that potential, however, requires a proactive and strategic approach to marketing analytics. Companies need to invest in the right mix of data, systems, and people to realize these gains.

Carl F. Mela is the T. Austin Finch Foundation Professor of Marketing at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the Executive Director at the Marketing Science Institute.

Christine Moorman is the T. Austin Finch, Sr. Professor of Business Administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the Editor-in-Chief designate of the Journal of Marketing.

Originally posted in Harvard Business Review, May 2018.

Social Media Rules! How Can Higher Ed Marketers Reach Prospective Students?

When trying to reach Generation Z or Millennials, SnapChat, Instagram and Twitter are the “it” social media platforms. Print still serves a purpose — mainly driving the recipient to your digital presence – but social media is the place where engagement and conversion happens. That was the message Michael Mullarkey, chief executive officer of Chicago-based Brickfish, delivered at the Higher Ed SIG gathering that took place April 6.

The SIG meeting, which was held at Troquet North, was a discussion about how to optimize social media for colleges and universities. In keeping with our new format for these gatherings, the meeting was more of a moderated conversation as opposed to a presentation.  It was a huge success!

Brickfish, whose slogan is “Engagement is Everything,” manages the content and social media of large brands like Neiman Marcus and Hertz.  Relevant, fresh content along with a quick response to visitors’ queries is essential to the success of any enterprise. Generation Z and Millennials expect instance responses. Mullarkey believes Facebook is still important, but these cohorts spend most of their time exchanging rapid-fire communiqués with their friends on SnapChat and WhatsApp. Marketers need to become a relevant part of these exchanges.

Mullarkey also spoke about the shrinking reach of Facebook and Instagram. Once brands established their presence on these platforms, these firms monetized their sites.  You now have to boost your post to expand your reach and that requires paying for it. He offered some advice about how to get around having to pay, which includes unique, relevant content, engagement and short video.

Bottom line: For us higher education communicators, it’s new a world. We just need to fasten our seat belts and enjoy the ride.

Betsy Butterworth Dean Petrulakis

Betsy Butterworth and Dean Petrulakis

Co-Chairs, Chicago AMA Higher Education Special Interest Group

Chicago Chapter of American Marketing Association Reveals Chicago’s Most Recognizable Brands

Survey of Chicago marketing community names McDonald’s, Walgreens, Kraft, Cubs, Boeing as top five area brands

Chicago – August 11, 2014 – A survey of Chicago marketing professionals has identified the most recognizable brands in the Chicago area – a diverse mix of corporations, sports teams and organizations lead by McDonald’s, Walgreens, Kraft, Chicago Cubs and Boeing as the top five.

Read more

Lewis Lazare of Chicago Business Journal

Yahoo Finance

Dow Jones MarketWatch

Daily Herald

Rockford Register Star

EIN News Service


Marketing Research “Think Tank” Forming

All Terrain & Chicago AMA Invite You to Attend A Research-Focused “Think-Tank”

The goal is to gather 10-15 senior professionals from the experiential marketing and market research industry to join in a Think Tank where together, we will discuss experiential marketing, campaign tactics and metrics, research methodology, and ideate the ideal way to construct a research plan to address this topic. This is a unique opportunity to exercise creativity, strategy and share your expertise.

Location: All Terrain, 2675 W Grand Ave, Chicago
Date and Time: TBD- Mid/late March – Food and drink will be provided

CAMA will also provide a gift card as a small token of our appreciation.  In addition to generating innovative ideas and devising effective strategies, our hope is that from the Think Tank, we will source one or more partners to help conduct the research. This research will:

  • Generate seminal work leading to a published white paper and findings
  • Be presented at a conference or event such as BrandSmart.
  • Connect the research partner with All Terrain and their client base should they need further research with regard to experiential marketing.

All parties involved in the research project agree that there will be some in-kind work contributed by everyone so that the project can be carried out and that it benefits all without being burdensome to any one group. If you are interested in attending this evening of conversation, ideation and networking with other professionals in your field, please send an email to or by February 28th, 2014. In order to keep the group small enough to inspire constructive interaction, only 15 applicants will be selected.