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CMOs Have Digital-Marketing Anxiety, Survey Shows 1/3

A recent survey of chief marketing officers shows that many feel unprepared to handle today’s social media-infested waters. There’s hope, though.
By Alex Konrad, reporter

FORTUNE – The Mad Men-esque days of dreaming up television spots and billboard campaigns over a three-martini lunch died amid the rise of Netscape and the digital revolution of the 1990s.

But with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter quite established by now, “going digital” in the marketing world no longer means simply catching up to speed on newsfeeds and retweets.

Chief marketing officers, or CMOs, at most major companies know that — they said so in hundreds in a wide-reaching IBM survey released in mid-October. But they don’t always know where to go from there.

“Marketing was just easier in the past, there’s no question,” explains Philip Kotler, a prolific author and longtime marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Turns out hundreds of chief marketing officers share Kotler’s view. “The biggest takeaway for me was how under-prepared CMOs are feeling with what they identified as top marketing factors, from social media to changing demographics,” says Carolyn Heller Baird, who oversaw IBM’s survey, which involved one-hour in-person interviews with 1,700 chief marketing officers.

The two most troubling areas for CMOs? IBM’s survey found that 71% said they are under-prepared to manage the current “data explosion,” while 68% struggle with changes in social media.

According to a group of current and former CMOs, addressing the issue all comes down to trust: from other executives, from consumers, and from CMOs themselves with their own recent hires.

Few executives can do it all themselves, and marketers are no exception. But perhaps as much as any position in the C-suite, the job has gotten exponentially more complicated on account of digital innovation. More …

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