‘CMO Index’ signals blue skies for marketers

Quarterly temperature check of more than 800 senior marketing executives reveals positive sentiment for marketing budgets, staffing, according to Forbes Insights and global ad agency gyro
Written by Carol Krol, Contributor on

Marketers are feeling positively rosy about the next six months, according to the inaugural Forbes Insights/gyro CMO Index, released in October by Forbes Media and global ad agency gyro.

More than a third (39 percent) of marketers surveyed said they are increasing budgets, compared with six months ago, the companies said. Nearly half (49 percent) said they are maintaining marketing budgets, while 12 percent are reducing marketing budgets. The CMO Index score regarding budgets is a positive at 12.7, according to the index.

How are the marketers feeling?
How are the marketers feeling? (Click for larger image) Credit: gyro.com/cmoindex


When asked whether he thought the positive feelings among surveyed execs was realistic, Christopher Becker, gyro’s CEO and chief creative officer, said, “It’s not unrealistic,” Becker said. “Marketers are embracing all of the new technologies. The most dangerous thing they can do in times of non-stop change is sit still and not do anything." 

Ashley Sheetz, CMO of Gamestop, concurred.

 “It is not surprising to see many marketing organizations thinking about increasing their spends to ensure they are taking advantage of emerging channels, new marketing technologies and new analytic capabilities,” Sheetz said.

However, she questioned the idea of focusing too much on dollars spent.

“I think it’s a bit dangerous for marketers to concern themselves with whether or not other marketing organizations are increasing or decreasing spends,” she said. “Ultimately, what marketers should be thinking about is how they can make their budgets, whatever they may be, more effective.”

Focus on ROI, not budget level

Sheetz explained that, “Simply increasing marketing spend is not the answer. In my opinion, the more strategic approach is to know the ROI of your marketing initiatives and manage budgets accordingly.”

Of the more than 875 U.S. marketers surveyed, close to half (45 percent) of marketing executives said they were more optimistic about industry-wide marketing conditions in the next six months. Forty-six percent said they were as optimistic about the future as they are today, while only 9 percent said they were less optimistic.

The poll asked respondents to rank their sentiment on a scale of 0 to 20, with 0 being the most negative. The combined CMO Index score regarding marketers’ feelings about the next six months was a solid 13.6.

A majority of those polled will maintain or add to marketing staff. More than half (54 percent) of marketers plan to maintain existing marketing staff, and 36 percent expect to add staff, while just 10 percent are looking to trim headcount.

Kibosh on new markets, product lines

One area where they expressed caution was entering new markets, preferring instead to beef up efforts in well-trod turf. Fifty-five percent said they are spending the greatest amount of their time growing existing markets, while just 29 percent said they are preparing to enter new markets. Sixteen percent are currently focused on growing in new markets. The overall index score of 7.5 reveals a negative sentiment toward entering new markets.

Similarly, 58 percent said they are focused on growing existing product lines and services. More than one-quarter (28 percent) are preparing a new launch, while a scant 14 percent said the priority is launching new product lines or services. With a CMO Index total score of 5.8, marketers were least optimistic about launching new product lines.

Interestingly, when broken out by industry, Business Services and Advertising/Market Research are the most optimistic vertical regarding the future (with15.9 and 15.6 index scores, respectively), while Aerospace/Defense are the least optimistic, clocking a 10.7 index score.

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