What it means to be a “marketer” has changed pretty dramatically, even over the past few years, and a recent study that looked at the role of CMOs illuminated that in some very specific ways.

The report surveyed senior leaders across the US and UK to figure out what is going on in their organizations, and what to expect in 2023.

The summary: No one has a clue what to expect. They don’t even know what’s going on right now.

Here’s an example: 78% of CMOs are convinced that their digital customer experience is good or great, while the actual customers report just the opposite; the vast majority of customers say that those same organizations’ digital experience is sub-bar, at best.

Another data point: While every company reported that technology plays a key role in their business’ success, only 5% feel confident in they way that their organizations are using it.

That’s not to say that there aren’t smart, talented people in these roles. Given all of the attention on marketing over the past few decades, it’s likely that today’s leaders are some of the most educated and experienced leaders who have ever been in these roles.

What’s actually going on is the redefinition of marketing in general, and a massive broadening of its scope. As recently as the early 2000s the job of a marketer was to drive top of funnel awareness, and maybe to think up some clever direct response tactics like street teams and snail mail, but that’s roughly where it ended.

Today, when we say marketing, we’re referring to the full customer journey – it’s still responsible for awareness, but digital allows us to continue to show up for people when they’re educating themselves on our products, when we provide customer support, build loyalty and, (if we’re really good at our jobs) earn advocacy.

In many cases, marketers are the people who run the customer relationship software, the point of purchase, the analytics, and are even asked to run recruiting campaigns when its time to hire new people.

There really isn’t a part of the business that marketing & digital is not responsible for, and that’s not a bad thing, but very few organizations have fully grasped this new reality.

Companies are still thinking of, and resourcing, marketing as if it solely exists to run ads, so it’s no surprise that tenure in the most senior roles is at an all-time low. The most recent numbers show that the average leader stays in their role no longer than 40 months.

So what can be done?

As we’re all preparing for 2023 and the uncertainly that it will bring, the only way that we’re going to be able to adapt and thrive is by embracing the fact that both marketing and digital are no longer sub-categories of what we do. We need to start our strategic planning not by asking what tactics we’re going to run, but what are the big challenges that we need to overcome.

When we start with challenges instead of tactics, we’re able to engage marketers’ brains in much more creative ways. It allows us to ask why we do what we do and how it supports the rest of the business. Tactics without purpose can drive potentially meaningless KPIs, whereas tactics aligned to challenges drive us towards meaningful outcomes.

Shifting our marketing strategies from tactics to challenges may be uncomfortable at first, but once we do, it opens us up to a whole different kind of creativity – one that is absolutely necessary to adapt, grow, and allow our leaders to thrive in their roles.

How can we help?

Helping organizations understand their relationship with digital is our specialty. If this article resonated with you and you want to start looking at marketing and the role of marketers in a new way, we’d love to chat. Give us a shout at hello@wearejunction.com