Monday, May 28, 2007

Marketing Executives are Short-term. How can Markerting survive?

A recent issue (June 2007) of Business 2.0 has a short but notable article that states that the average tenure of a CMO among the Fortune 100 is 23 months. We've all seen the turnover among some of the most senior marketing executives in the country over the past few years, but 23 months average tenure seems to be particularly brief.

Why be concerned? It stikes me as being a very limited period for marketing initiatives to turnover and be tested. Sure, a new CMO needs to come aboard and have immediate impact. However, in many organizations marketing programs are locked in 6-9 months before the programs launch. So a new CMO has 3 months to craft a new approach in order for the programs to hit the market within a year. A year later and the CMO is gone. Is this really sufficient time to implement, learn, revise, and execute? It certainly doesn't allow time to cycle through the learning to make adjustments.

Marketers must adjust to this new reality. Perform now or die. It makes sense to demand performance, and marketers should certainly be held accountable for results. But we run the risk of driving marketing programs back to the short-term discounting behaviors that we all strive to avoid. After all, price-cutting to gain volume is as old as marketing. It may boost short-term numbers but it's a long-term death spiral. Marketers are human (really!) and behavior will tend toward the path of least resistance - and that means short-term promotional behavior.

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