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How Are CMOs Handling Reduced Headcount, Slashed Budgets?

With the pandemic hitting many companies hard, marketing organizations have to figure out how to navigate amid shrinking budgets and lowered headcounts. So reports CMS Wire.

hired 648451 640In fact, a recent report from Forrester estimates that 469,000 marketing jobs will be eliminated in 2020. Separately, Gartner reports that a survey of CMOs finds that they’ve cut workers—permanent, contract or temporary—by approximately 37%.

“You can’t cut your way to growth,” says Pete Hayes, principal of marketing consultant Chief Outsiders. He noted that CMOs reexamine investment in agency services and contractors and consider moving some roles in-house, including hiring some of the contractors as employees. By working with your company’s finance professionals, you’ll be able to determine if this approach may allow you to increase capacity and headcount while possibly reducing costs, he says. 

With shrinking staffs, CMOs are increasingly concerned about the quality of their teams, according to Ewan McIntyre, vice president analyst for Gartner for Marketers. McIntyre said that it’s not just about the headcount. The challenge is ensuring the people on your marketing teams have the capabilities you need for future performance.

As CMOs are looking to hire, they want creative and innovative marketers that can navigate ambiguity and pivot quickly when new priorities are identified, according to CMO Survey.

McIntyre suggested that marketing organizations that heavily rely on agency employees—even considering them a part of their own internal teams—may experience some challenges as they cut back on such staffers. One of the big challenges is that some organizations may turn to technology to help with the realities of budgetary cutbacks, but technology alone is not sufficient.

While navigating headcount and budget changes, CMOs would be wise to also look at themselves and their role within an organization and how to be more influential. In a 2019 Deloitte study, just 5% of CMOs saw themselves a “high-impact executives,” according to an article from Forbes. That’s the lowest in the c-suite. A new report from Deloitte identified some of the characteristics of high impact CMOs and how they’re organizing their teams. For example, CMOs who own specific activities, such as customer experience or innovation roadmaps, are more than twice as confident they are making an impact in the c-suite than their marketing counterparts that do not own such activities.

“By putting organizational impact at the forefront, we see that some of the most common activities CMOs seek to own, like business partnerships, for example, are not likely to move the needle,” said Jen Veenstra, according to the article. She leads Deloitte’s CMO program. “Instead, the most successful CMOs are innovators who use their deep understanding of the customer to build new products and experiences.”

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