Lisa Nirell's Marketing Waves Blog

Report: CMOs Facing “Colony Collapse” in 2017?

We have just completed our 4th annual CMO Innovation Trends report (now available for free download here). 103 CMOs and Marketing VPs from 9 countries participated in the study.

Much like we are witnessing the frightening impact of bee colony collapse in the natural world, we believe the decline in focused attention on marketing innovation will cause marketing colony (organization) collapse.

Several market dynamics contribute to this concern. If you are like many of our community members, you are witnessing a meteoric rise in 24 x 7 customer demands. You’re also doing your best to manage The Message Maelstrom™—the rapid-fire, blazing barrage of messages and conversations that cause our customers and stakeholders to ignore the news.

Honest conversations and product reviews wantonly behind our backs, inside online forums, and across social channels. We do not “push” and manage content; we participate in multiple, two-way conversations. The Maelstrom contributes to the distrust of the media, as well as our own content.

These dynamics put further pressure on marketing leaders to be transparent, nimble, and innovative. Yet today, these qualities are merely table stakes for us to remain relevant.

Some highlights from the CMO Innovation Trends report include:

  • Respondents expressed a greater willingness to fund innovation in the coming months. We saw the percentage of CMOs “willing” or “very willing” to invest in innovation double since 2015, from 8% to nearly 15%.
  • Although this growing desire to fund innovation is encouraging, their inability to make marketing innovation a high priority stymies progress. The percentage of leaders who rated innovation as “very critical” to their company’s success declined from 80% in 2015 to just 65% in 2016.
  • Participants cite three causes of the reduced focus on marketing innovation: the excessive time spent on day-to-day operations and firefighting, lack of internal alignment, and funding shortages.
  • Forward-looking marketing leaders intend to invest funds primarily in marketing operations, innovation initiatives, and reorganizing their teams in 2017.
  • Respondents still prefer the personal touch when it comes to learning and sharing knowledge. CMOs prefer smaller, private, face-to-face peer meetings as well as breakfast seminars. E-newsletters and industry publications remain the number one method.
  • With the buzz around the accelerated move to mobile, these results surprised us: Social networks (such as LinkedIN, at 9%) and mobile apps (at 5%) remain less preferred learning platforms.

What can CMOs do to reverse this trend? We recommend several strategies in our new report. They include a temporary step away from data-driven conversations and a return to persuasion and storytelling fundamentals. Our latest report also provides you with several low-cost options to fuel innovation experiments, the Message Maelstrom™ overview, and more.

Click here to download your complimentary CMO Innovation Trends report.

How will you replenish your innovation colony in 2017? Share your comments below.

Other posts you will enjoy:

Highlights from 2nd annual CMOs Leading Innovation Conference (CLIC ’16) on

Investing in Customer Experience in 2017? Mind the Message Maelstromclick here (AMA/Infor webinar)

3 Low-Tech Presentation Tips that Still Work (from Lisa’s FastCompany blog) – click here


Copyright 2016, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.

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