Chief Outsiders, a nationwide "executives-as-a-service" firm, has released the results of its first annual survey of CMOs on what to expect this year in terms of market trends and company growth. For its report, “Market Trends 2020,” Chief Outsiders polled its network of top CMOs on everything from a possible recession to emerging technologies to new ways to engage customers.

The report has lots of important insights, but here’s the one that stood out to me: We have become accustomed to marketing being driven by buzzwords like “customer engagement” and “focus on the customer,” but those things now must be tied to real, measurable company growth. On the ground, this is manifesting in more collaboration between marketers and other departments within the company, more marketing work being brought in-house via marketing technology, and more strategic marketing decisions being driven by hard data.

Notes the report:

Marketing plans and CMOs are a crucial part of every business operation, but they’re changing. Marketing is no longer just about solving customer engagement or sales funnel problems: it's more and more about growth, and CMOs are expected to adapt. CMOs will be collaborating more and more with other organizational entities—R&D, sales, IT, and customer service—to meet growth goals.

In fact, when asked whether growth initiatives do not deliver expected results, where do these CMOs expect the blame to fall? “Strategy” actually came out on top, with nearly 35% of CMOs saying it will take the blame over the “talent/team,” with just over 30%.

Here’s a look at some of the other top-line results:

  • 44% of the CMOs believe business and economic conditions will have negative impact on 2020 business performance.
  • 72% see greater collaboration in organizations to reach company-wide growth goals.
  • “Understanding the customer,” plus “developing relevant strategy” rank first and second as most vital to growth.
  • 35% of businesses expected to bring more marketing agency work in-house in 2020 to reduce costs.
  • Digital advertising is expected to increase in 80% of businesses in 2020
  • Use of video, blogging and case studies rank 1, 2, and 3 in content focus for CMOs in 2020.
  • 88% of CMOs see difficulty in staying ahead of technological advancements.

Notes the report: “CMOs believe most company digital marketing spend in 2020 will be aimed at gaining organic searches, content marketing, and email marketing. A big focus will be on digital content like videos, blog posts, and case studies. They think the most vital capabilities supporting marketing strategy will be creating stronger customer experiences, better market research, and overall more thoughtful marketing tactics.”

Another interesting tidbit is the focus on direct-to-consumer (DTC) or direct-to-business (DTB) marketing in today’s age of Amazon dominance. This means more marketing opportunities for savvy printing companies (particularly those with integrated digital marketing). The top industries cited as seeing the most DTC and DTB interaction this year include (in the following order):

  1. Retail
  2. Healthcare
  3. Manufacturing
  4. Technology
  5. Entertainment

Most of companies’ focus, the CMOs reported, will be traditional digital media, emerging digital media, and the web over traditional channels.

To download a copy of the report, click here.