The CMO and 2023 – Do more with Less!

Published: May 22, 2023

min read

Gartner has released a new report of a survey that probes into the mindset of a CMO against the backdrop of a difficult economy.

A whopping 71% of CMOs said that they lacked the budget to fully execute their strategy in 2023. Gartner surveyed 410 CMOs and marketing leaders in March / April 2023 in North America and Northern and Western Europe across different industries, company sizes and revenue, with the vast majority of respondents reporting annual revenue of over $1 billion.

With cutting back being the norm of the day across the board, thanks to a tough economy, CMOs are facing a challenge as they plan their budgets. Gartner has found that while on the one hand, most marketers are under pressure to cut costs, there are still some other areas, including social advertising, that are still in growth mode, on the other.

According to Gartner’s report,

  • About 75% of CMOs are under pressure to “do more with less” for them to reach profitable growth this year
  • About 86% are making “significant changes” as a result.

One of the big reasons that contribute to the pressure CMOs are under is a smaller budget. Marketing budgets are at 9.1% of the company revenue this year, compared to 9.5% in 2022.

While CMOs work on how to make the most of their smaller budgets, social advertising is still thriving and on the rise as well.

53% of the CMOs have said that they will increase spend on social media

And a very significant 26% have said that they will cut down on investing in search advertising.

Suppressed budgets, increasing costs and lower productivity are squeezing CMOs’ spending power. As volatility becomes the new normal, many CMOs are pricing disruption into their 2023 plans.

Ewan McIntyre,

Chief of research and VP analyst at Gartner’s marketing practice, in a statement.

CMOs have also seen very low ROI on technology investments with new lows of unproductivity, with utilization rates falling from 58% in 2020 to 42% in 2022. Because of this, 75% of marketers say that they are under pressure to cut martech spend this year to deliver better ROI. Despite that, the highest reported investment increase by CMOs this year goes toward marketing technology, and spending less on labor.

2023 and the CMO

In 2023, the CMO needs to become a different animal.

Facing a lot of pressure to do more with less, this is the time for the CMO to evolve into a new type of enterprise leader. No longer can he be complacently involved with just keeping the various wheels of the marketing department turning, he must focus more on becoming a business-focused leader with an eye firmly fixed on profits and growth.

As past experiences have shown, merely investing in a new and shiny martech stack or AI is not going to solve anything. The important thing is to use it to its full potential and maximize ROI. More tech is not always better. Greater expertise is! And what counts is what the marketer of today, does with the tech that he already has! Trading off new tech for expertise (people) will not cut it at all. On the other hand, being able to understand the potential the martech stack or new tech has, and then tapping into the power of the machine is what is required.

Video content is something that has really taken off since the pandemic –and there has been no looking back ever since. Focusing on videos is then, something that every brand must do!

Social media is where the attention is – and rightly so. The present younger generation lives and moves on social media. And their purchasing power is gradually getting stronger. So it is the right way to go to be where the biggest audience is! In fact Gen Z interacts with its circle more online, than directly! Whether It is YouTube or Instagram or TikTok, that is where they are and that is where brands need to be.

To conclude, CMOs must pivot forward and play a new role – with eyes firmly on growth and profit generation. Everything else is secondary. Their every move and strategy must be based on achieving profit and growth. Apart from this, they must work hard to future-proof the brand in the face of a difficult economy and a looming recession. That and only that is the need of the hour!


Pete Johnson

Pete is a MarTech expert guru with a knack for getting diverse MarTech solutions work for brands. He has a wealth of experience in working with a plethora of MarTech platforms that dive Personalized Omnichannel Experiences. When he's not at work, you can find him playing basketball or listening to jazz.


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