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So What? Review of the September 2023 CMO Survey

So What? Marketing Analytics and Insights Live

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In this week’s episode of So What? we review the September 2023 CMO Survey. We walk through what is the Bi-annual CMO Survey, what data is collected in the CMO Survey and what decisions to make in 2024 with the CMO Survey. Catch the replay here:

So What? Review of the September 2023 CMO Survey


In this episode you’ll learn: 

  • What is the Bi-annual CMO Survey
  • What data is collected in the CMO Survey
  • What decisions to make in 2024 with the CMO Survey

Upcoming Episodes:

  • TBD


Have a question or topic you’d like to see us cover? Reach out here:

AI-Generated Transcript:

Katie Robbert 0:13
Well, hey everyone, Happy Thursday. Welcome to so what the marketing analytics and insights live show I am Katie joined by John. Chris is on the road this week.

John Wall 0:22
Hello, yes, Chris is taking the train to DC and trying not to be sick basically that says

Katie Robbert 0:29
Jonathan pushing the buttons being the button pusher stresses me out like because there’s like just enough of a delay between hitting the go live and it actually going live. Right? Yeah,

John Wall 0:41
that’s it that’s, that’s it’s always the click that button that like makes the stuff happen that you sweat, you know,

Katie Robbert 0:47
oh, my goodness, well. So today, John, you and I are going to be talking about the latest edition of the CMO survey. So the CMO survey comes out twice a year, I believe, February and September. So we’re going to be looking at the fall 2023 was just launched in September. And we’re just going to be reviewing it because one of the things. So the CMO survey is a really great tool for getting a like general understanding of what’s going on with the marketing industry. But what it doesn’t do is do like a full narrative and tie all the different data points together. So that’s something that John you and I want to try to do today. So we’re gonna be looking at this survey as a whole. And then we’ll also be sort of like piecing together the data points into a narrative that makes sense for us, but also makes sense for general marketers, so let me pull it up. So if you’re not familiar, you can actually just search the CMO survey and you’ll see past editions, there’s no form to fill out. It’s basically just a PDF, and it comes out, like I said, twice a year. And the, you know, they have their methodology. It started in 2008. I didn’t realize it had been going on for that long. That’s pretty impressive.

John Wall 2:00
Yeah, Duke and Deloitte and then having American Marketing Association, the three of those, you know, it’s been a stalwart for many years. And yeah, it makes it a fun report.

Katie Robbert 2:13
So there’s the contents, and then the methodology. So I did want to just sort of point this out, you know, as we’re getting into it. So this is well, the 31st edition. It goes out twice a year, they sort of say when the questions were asked how they were responded to. And what I find really interesting, and this is something I just want to make note of is that we’re looking at a sample of 316 respondents, which by no means is representative of every single opinion. So as great as this report is, you also need to sort of take it with a grain of salt to know that it may not represent the views that are going on in your particular industry or your company. But it’s a good way to just sort of gauge, you know, the general overall opinions.

John Wall 3:04
Yeah, there’s a number of things to dig into that really. So you know, like you said, 316 responded, they have a library of just over 3000 CMOS. So even the total universe is not that huge. So at 10%, were at least getting a chunk of it. The other thing that’s interesting is, only 12% of the respondents are companies under 10 million. So these are all large organizations. And when you talk about huge bureaucracies, so far as only 40% 40% of them do no online sales whatsoever. So, you know, almost half of this group are petroleum companies, pharmaceutical companies, you know, big giant places. The only other weird stat that’s not here up front that’s kind of buried in the end, that I found really interesting is that the senior marketing leaders in this study have 5.2 years experience, which is really crazy, because we know that from other research we’ve seen when you just look at all CMOS across the board, they only have 18 months experience like CMOS tends to be a revolving door. So the fact that you’ve got, you know, 300 in huge companies, and they have a, you know, odds are they’re going to last three to five times longer than the average CMO. At least, you know, we’ve got a few things that give us some reasons to trust this more than just a random sample of 300.

Katie Robbert 4:21
Yeah, no, I think that that’s a really good point. I was going to call that out as well. But it’s also interesting, because the flip side of that is what I thought I learned, and I’ve been unlearning what I thought I learned early on in my career is that you couldn’t consider yourself senior in a role until you’ve been in it for at least a decade. And that was it’s a very old school way of thinking. But you know, when you and I started working, John, that was the way that it was like the senior team had been sitting in those seats for, you know, 1015, sometimes 20 years, which you could argue makes for a very stale A vision and strategy for a company, when you have people who’ve been doing it for so long. The other side of that is, when you have people who’ve been sitting in that seat for so long, they know it in and out. And so there’s definitely some pros and cons to leaders sitting in the role for that long. But then also, when you have someone who’s only been there 18 months, which to your point is, the Gen is now sort of like the accepted tenure of a CMO, which is ridiculous. You know, it takes 18 months just to really sort of understand the culture and inner workings of a company. So by the time you get it, you move on.

John Wall 5:38
Yeah, and so much of that is just tied to, you know, does the organization do they live and die by the quarter or not? Because you know, that 18 months, that’s three quarters, right? If somebody gets three quarters, and they can’t move anything, then they get the AX. So those kinds of organizations Yeah, are just not where they want to go. You know, another thing with this, too, that you wouldn’t get from just viewing a single survey, but we actually did some research on it in previous rounds, is this audience is relentlessly bias toward optimism. When you look at them, anytime they’re talking about their budget going forward, they’re always thinking it’s going to increase. And when you think about, it’s because they do it twice a year, it’s always, if they’re in a bad cycle, well, they think, Okay, this is going to end in the next three, and I’m going to get more money. And if they’re in a good cycle, they’re like, well, things are good, I’m gonna get more money. So there’s never a time where they’re like, oh, yeah, we’re, our budgets are gonna be cut 10% next quarter. So there are some things you have to keep in mind as far as how they talk about things are going and their rosy take on the world, because they do tend to have quite a bias.

Katie Robbert 6:39
Well, and it’s, I liked that you brought that up, because that was one of my first gut reactions to this report, in general is, the overall setup of the report does not reflect the actual data. That is then reported, slide by slide by slide. So they’re saying martyr optimism rebounds as recession fears of eight. And then all of the rest of the slides are around all of the issues and the budget cuts and what they’re not doing. And, sure, they’re thinking they might be spending more in social media, but it’s the first budget that they cut. And so it’s very interesting to me that this is one of the first questions like I’m optimistic, but it doesn’t reflect my reality of what’s actually happening.

John Wall 7:23
Yeah, yeah, no, that’s par for the course for these guys. They’re always everything is a little brighter sunshine, six months down the road.

Katie Robbert 7:33
You know, and so again, sort of that optimism, and so this report is broken out into sections. And that was something we kind of skipped over. But they do have a table of contents. So this, so every time they do this report, they have their base set of questions, but then they tend to do a little bit of a focus on different things. And so one of the things to keep in mind with using the CMO survey or other data sets is it may not be one to one every single time it comes out. And so while they’re collecting the data, they may not be publishing the data in every port. So you can’t say, well, six months ago, it was this. So now it’s this because the data does tend to change from report to report that’s actually as someone who cut their teeth on data analysis and clinical trials, that is like my number one criticism of any dataset is you can’t keep changing the survey questions, and then say, and this is what it was last, like it’s not a one to one. It’s that’s not good data quality. You can’t say okay, now I know exactly what happened. And so, but that’s just me, I’m personally I’m very like strict about those things, even down to like, well, last month, we looked at it from the first to the 30th. This month, we looked at it from the 31st to the 28th. So that’s the comparison. Like it’s not because it’s not the exact same down to the second. So I tend to be very critical of those kinds of things. But it’s also, you know, again, use this as a guide, not as your strict decision making tool.

John Wall 9:10
Yeah, and I don’t know the report intimately enough to know I, from what I understand, from what I remember, there were things where it was like, Okay, this set gets asked in the fall, and this set just gets asked in the spring. So they do have annual on some of those questions. But yeah, I think it’s a matter of they can just only ask so much stuff before it starts to impact the response rate. So they have some stuff that they only touch every other year and go.

Katie Robbert 9:33
Right. I agree. So the first section is monitoring partners and competitors. So there’s a lot of, you know, as companies right now are going through a lot of layoffs and reorg and restructures. They have to rely on channel partners and other agencies like Trust Insights, to pick up the slack rather than you know, rebuild their whole team, or figure out what the heck it is they want to do. And so what’s interesting is we’re seeing that companies are less likely to use channel partners. They want to keep everything in house, which, you know, in some ways is good. But because you run the risk of like, the partner walks away, you lose all of that institutional knowledge. But in some ways, you don’t have the team to do the thing.

John Wall 10:31
Yeah, they’re lacking that. And it was weird with this too. And that, I noticed that brick and mortar budgets are bouncing back, but online is actually still falling. So that was kind of weird. I don’t understand if the brick and mortar, you know, is a leading indicator, or is that just still COVID? You know, coming back for us. And then the fact that online is still kind of diving, we’ve seen that seen that with martec. Taking some real hits this quarter. So yeah, I don’t know, that was just interesting. And then, was it slide 11 had a thing about B2B being the hardest hit, which I get that kind of going hand in hand with the MAR tech stuff that that we’re seeing. But so I don’t know, my gut was that we’re kind of, maybe we’re near the bottom and on the with a little bit back up, you know, things are kind of coming out of the hole a little bit. That’s was the overall feel I got from that data. But, you know, again, like anything could turn around at any point, did you have a feel for kind of, you know, did you think in general, this was good or bad that we were heading deeper in the hole, or that things were actually getting brighter?

Katie Robbert 11:39
I mean, honestly, my opinion, if that changes minute by minute. You know, I feel like, you know, all of my peers that I’ve talked to everyone has struggled this year, in the B2B sector, to, you know, bring on new clients retain clients not have budgets cut, it’s been really hard. I mean, we know for ourselves, you know, we were talking about just a couple of weeks ago, what is it going to look like in 2024, to have more retainer clients, more projects, and people are just withholding their spending right now, for a variety of reasons. Some of it is inflation, the cost of goods, and some of it is they just don’t know what’s going to happen. And we’ll sort of get into it when we get into the AI section. But there’s a lot, a lot of it has to do with, you know, over the past 18 months, the advances with artificial intelligence really sort of changing the conversation of where we’re putting our money. But so I guess I’m seeing for us specifically, I’m seeing it start to turn around a little bit, as people are like the the initial shock of artificial intelligence and the initial shock of Google Analytics 4 is starting to wear off. And people can say, okay, now I can start to understand really where I want to focus. Now I can bring in someone like Trust Insights to help me do that. I’m seeing a little bit of that, but it’s still very slow, slower than I think we would like it to go.

John Wall 13:08
Yeah, great. It’s crazy in that, you know, two weeks ago, I really thought it was ugly and gonna get uglier. And in the past week and a half, actually, things have we’ve seen more activity and more action. You know, obviously, data point one, but it’s just interesting to see that it’s not all doom and gloom.

Katie Robbert 13:27
I will say, though, that John, we know that this is your trend is that you basically have to get to the edge of the cliff, for things to turn around. And this has always sort of been, you know, you jokingly say, like, that’s your pattern. Like, as soon as I’m ready to jump off the cliff, things turn around.

John Wall 13:43
I know, I really be complaining more, because every time I reach that point where it’s like, okay, the whole village is dead, you know, then suddenly the next week things seem to turn around. So yeah. Is that some kind of karma thing or what the deal with that, but yeah, and the other bias is Chris has been traveling like a madman, he, we’ve seen demand for his keynotes and his seminars like never before. And that is all in line with AI. One interesting data point to that and a different report I saw this morning. This is the first month that ChatGPT new accounts and usage was less than the previous month. So perhaps we have reached the end of the Mad insanity and hype with that and we’re getting closer to the, you know, actual usage and debt, people getting it into their daily work instead of it just being the next Bitcoin blockchain NFT panic.

Katie Robbert 14:40
I have a feeling you’re right. I think coupled with that is that we’re now at end of your planning and budgets are being scrutinized. I mean, I was looking at our budget just this morning for the different pieces of software that were paying for and I’m like, Well, wait a second. What are all these things on here that you know, we’re no longer using? You know, where can we cut costs, and one of the first places that people should be looking to cut costs is software versus people.

John Wall 15:09
Yeah, try and just keep the cash flow going long enough to get to the the other side here.

Katie Robbert 15:18
So speaking of so we’ll get into the marketing spending. It says despite optimism marketing budget as a percentage of a company dropped to 10%, near pre COVID levels. And that’s where when I first started to look at this, I was like, okay, so great. People are optimistic. But they’re still slashing marketing and sales budgets, like nobody’s business. So we saw in basically a year ago, in September, or 2022, when we were looking at this, we saw, you know, a great increase in, you know, the overall company budgets. But now we’re starting to see it drop down again. And it hasn’t been that low since August of 2021. So it’s been two years. And so in two years, we’ve gone up, and we’ve gone down again, in terms of the actual spend, and it’s really frustrating, because we only get so much insight into why that’s happening.

John Wall 16:17
Yeah, it’s weird. There’s different levels with that, right, like you’ve got the startups that are just trying to stay alive, they will cut advertising off anytime they start running short of cash flow. And then at the top end, you’ve got everybody that’s again, slave to the quarter, so they will cut and burn cash. And that’s where you get, that’s where we get that pulsing effect, where it’s like, for one quarter, they cut spending way back, and then you know, two quarters later, they see the result of that. And so they have to, to let it go. So you’re only stuck with the companies in the middle, or the apples of the world that realize, when everybody else is cutting your budget, that is the best time to raise your advertising budget, and to renegotiate all your ad deals, you know, you can totally buy up all kinds of inventory right now. Unsolicited plug for the marketing over coffee podcast, if you’re a martec provider and you want to own December, you can get it, you know, dirt cheap compared to what people were paying middle of last year. And the same with hiring to, you know, down cycle like this. Everybody’s laying people off. If you have a war chest and you’re a big enough brand, this is the great time to go and scoop up talent, because now is when they’re thinking that yeah, maybe my third startup in a row, this was a bad idea, I might want to be able to get groceries next week. So it’s a chance for the big guys to jump in. But yeah, it’s definitely, if you’re responsible for the ad campaigns, it’s been a bleak. I don’t know what year and a half.

Katie Robbert 17:41
Well, and it’s, you know, something that our advisor, Gini Dietrich told us very, very early on, when we started Trust Insights was to make sure that we are diversifying our offerings enough. So that, you know, during these down cycles, we have passive income and things that are still bringing in money that, you know, aren’t requiring, you know, big price tags for people to feel like, they’re really, you know, having to spend a lot. And so that comes in the way of like, you know, speaking and courses and more educational things that help get people through this, you know, down period of, well, we can’t really spend that much right now. But we still have people that need to know what they’re doing. We’re trying to train up our teams, you know, because we can’t afford an agency right now. Well, those people still need to know how to do it. So you can be the agency that helps train them. And it sort of gets you through that down period.

You know, and so you can start to see in the report, you know, how these vary by firm and industries, you have the employees, the revenues, the economic sector, and so on, so forth. And then when we we see here, and this sort of aligns with, you know, the previous slide, marketing spending growth flat predicted to rise over the next year that goes back to that optimism, John, you know, they don’t know that, that’s for sure.

John Wall 19:09
Oh, yeah, no, for these slides, the dotted lines always go up, right, when they’re looking at their projection there. There’s never a good time going downwards.

Katie Robbert 19:19
Which is great to think that like, they want to spend more money, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

John Wall 19:25
Right. Well, that’s so yeah, reality come crashing down on them at any moment.

Katie Robbert 19:31
And this is, this was something that I found to be incredibly helpful in terms of our planning. And so if you’re looking at this for the first time, what this is telling you is the breakdown of those marketing budgets. So 92% is direct expenses of marketing activities, and then you start to go down the list. So brands related expenses, social media employees, which is interesting that social Media, they’re spending more on social than they are on the actual employees. But, you know, here we are marketing analytics, I’m actually surprised to see analytics in such a big bucket, because that’s something that historically has been very de prioritized by CMOS in this particular survey, you have marketing technologies, which is all of your software, market research. Mobile marketing, customer experience, expenses, marketing training, so not huge but still exists. And then you have sales support tools. Those are like your Salesforce, your CRM, and so on, so forth. So did any of this surprise you, John?

John Wall 20:39
Well, yeah, you hit the one that was the most interesting one. And that marketing analytics is actually higher than just martech. In general. So we have reached that point where people want to analyze the data and get some actionable insight out of it, as opposed to just adding yet another thing to automate email and ads. And you know, that kind of stuff. So I think that’s the big one. The other one and is beefed up on the other slide, too, is that brand related expenses, because that’s actually way off. This year, when we look at how much is being spent on that. Again, that’s just like kind of the classic big advertising and all this stuff that is in that bucket of stuff that gets cut first when things start to get ugly.

Katie Robbert 21:23
Yeah, so brand building spending drops by 43%. While customer experience spending drops by 19%, this was something this was something that Chris talks about a lot is that the use of artificial intelligence as increases, everyone starts to get that sameness. So your differentiator is your brand, and your customer experience. And so if those are the two things that are getting cut first, then you’re going to you’re basically letting go of your differentiators from your competitors, like what makes you unique? Why would somebody buy from Trust Insights versus anyone else? If, you know, we don’t have a really strong brand, or a really good customer experience?

John Wall 22:06
Yeah, and it’s just, you know, this is just purely a budget thing, like no cmo would want to give up on any of this stuff. They’re being told, Hey, you gotta get X number of dollars out of your budget. And so it’s the easy place to cut.

Katie Robbert 22:22
Companies just spend more on new service introductions, well, budgets for new products. And so basically, I mean, what this tells me is that people are just scrambling to try to figure out what people want. You know, so artificial intelligence changed a lot of things that changed the way that people use and interact with certain products, certain technology, certain experiences, and companies like, Ah, crap, we didn’t have planned for that.

John Wall 22:45
Yeah, and I don’t know, that was one interesting and weird part of the data that I couldn’t find anything that seemed to explain with, what’s the story with why is it that they’re spending so much more on services, you know, I don’t get i The only thing I can think of is, when you’re in these monster companies, you know, their budgets will get cut, and that they’re not going to go looking for 40 million barrels of oil and you know, in a new place, so they have to do some kind of services or something, you know, that’s the only thing I can think of is that some of these product related expenses are just so massive that it makes services look like they are in fact, actually, when you run the numbers, if you were to have your budget completely cut back, and your product expenses dropped down, it would look like an increase in services, when really, you’re just doing the same number of services, but you’ve gotten rid of a ton of price. So that’s the problem. When we get to to the stats get to digested you know, we’re looking at budget changes on a percentage basis and then come bearing that against unrelated percent spent for different products. So it gets a little wonky. Maybe we’re being misled by the data here.

Katie Robbert 23:54
But that’s sort of the picking apart that, excuse me, I was hoping that we could do because one of the things that this report doesn’t do very well, in my opinion, is put all of those pieces together. Like it has a little bit of an introduction at the start of each section. But the sections themselves aren’t necessarily tied together in that way. And so, you know, do we start to compare introduction of new services, to the use of artificial intelligence to the budget cuts to where people are spending to the optimism, when you put all those pieces together? John, you’re absolutely right, you can start to understand why some of this data looks the way that it does.

John Wall 24:32
Yeah, and you know, they cast their net, and unfortunately, they don’t, you know, have any idea what the picture is going to be like until this stuff comes in. And they compile it. So I’m sure they have the same bunch of questions. And yeah, it’s just, you know, we can’t go back to them for another six months, so we’re kind of stuck.

Katie Robbert 24:50
Yeah. And so this was something that you touched upon when we first started talking about budget cuts was that I’m advertising is one of the first things that people always cut. So it looks like it is rising a little bit. But it’s not great. It’s still in the negatives.

John Wall 25:09
Yeah, right. Well, I don’t know where they anchored that to a pre COVID Number, I think was what the deal was. And yeah, it’s you know, so the spring was horrible. Now, it’s only a little bit ugly, we’re still not anywhere near happy. But and again to, you know, take a look at this whole graph here, right where it from negative 6% to 4%. I mean, this is not a huge expanse, if we were to show a full 100, this would be a nearly flat line. So, you know, without knowing the total amount of ad spend, we were a little bit stuck as to what this really means.

Katie Robbert 25:39
And I think that’s another really good point that you bring up is making sure that you’re actually looking at the ranges, because you can see the peaks and valleys on it and be like, Oh, it’s going up. But in the grand scheme of things to your point, John, it’s minuscule.

John Wall 25:52
Yeah, again, this is the classic, spinning your story based on how you want to adjust the axis.

Katie Robbert 25:59
And so now, the big ticket item that everybody cares about right now is artificial intelligence. And so this is a newer section in this report, so that I think they did touch upon it in the February report. But now they obviously have more data to work with. And I don’t know, I loved this slide, because it just reconfirmed a lot of things that we’ve been talking about, in terms of, you know, the experts that are out there, and the companies that actually know what they’re doing and what sets apart companies like Trust Insights. And so unsurprising 60% of companies say that they’ve been using AI and marketing for less than a year. Make sense, it hasn’t been mainstream available for longer than that. And then you start to get down to really small numbers of companies that have been using it for much, much longer. But to your point, it’s not talking about agencies like Trust Insights, is talking about these big pharmaceutical companies, construction, wholesale biotech companies that have the resources to actually implement these technologies, not the smaller companies that are struggling to figure out where does it fit into my overall process?

John Wall 27:14
Yeah, right. It’s a little bit misleading, really, because it’s, you could kind of put a line in the sand with ChatGPT, and say, Okay, so those are all the latest AI adopters in the year, unless you look over the breakdown there of the earliest adopters two plus years, you’ve got mining and construction, you know, it’s like the huge dollar industry, right? Like, they have AI, because they’d probably have five engineers, you know, in house that are doing this stuff, and have been helping them to try and find golden oil for decades. So this is nothing new to those people. But I wouldn’t put that in the same bucket as the AI, you know, wave of insanity that we’ve seen in the past 12 months.

Katie Robbert 27:52
Yeah, no, these are the companies that can afford IBM Systems. You know, which are meant for companies like this, they’re meant for these enterprise sized companies. This also, I love this slide as well, because it once again, reconfirmed that artificial intelligence isn’t being used, the way that it could be used that most companies are using it for content personalization, and content creation. And then sort of ignoring the rest of the things. But when we look at where budgets are being cut, you’re cutting customer experience, you’re cutting brand. But you’re not replacing all of those things, you’re just creating content. It’s not a one to one substitution. And that was a huge thing that I sort of like that was my immediate, I was like, Oh, you’re cutting these budgets. But artificial intelligence isn’t the magical, it’s not solving the problem. You’re not like replacing those things, you’re just generating more content, that is the same as the content that everybody else is creating, because they’re using all the same AI tools. So that’s not a great customer experience. But you cut that budget. So how does that, like, it became that sort of cycle in my head of like, I couldn’t find the beginning or end of the conversation?

John Wall 29:13
Yeah, well, like you said, there’s two independent things. One is the customer is just gonna get shortchanged, right? They’re gonna get less services or lower quality, quality product or have to pay more or whatever. And then you have this tsunami of crappy blog posts that is just, you know, washing over the world. And that’s a different thing. And different. Yeah, I mean, you can definitely talk to you’ve seen more of this stuff than I have, as far as, you know, organizations, cranking out a bunch of stuff and then having to deal with the aftermath of like, okay, yeah, we thought this was gonna replace a bunch of people, but actually, no, we’ve come up with a bunch of crummy content. We’re paying the price on SEO or engagement or, you know, a whole bunch of other things. It’s just not the golden goose that it was sold to be.

Katie Robbert 29:58
Yeah, I think one of the number one questions we get, regardless of what we’re talking about is, how is artificial intelligence going to impact my SEO program? And, you know, obviously, it’s going to impact it if you’re just using AI to create content, because there’s no, you know, there’s no customization to it. So there’s like, you know, content personalization? Well, we don’t really know what that means in this context. What is interesting, though, so you have programmatic advertising and media buying it. That’s not a new technology, though, like, AdWords has had that for a long time. StackAdapt has had that for a long time. So what’s interesting is that now it’s just sort of becoming like, oh, now I’m using AI. Well, you’ve been using it for a long time, actually.

John Wall 30:45
Right. Yeah, that’s another that’s always been a Robin, this kind of, there’s no hard and fast definition of like, okay, these things are AI, AI. And these aren’t, it’s like anybody that’s doing advanced data analysis. And, you know, like you said, automated ad bidding, right, you can argue that we’ve had that kind of AI for years. So that’s nothing new.

Katie Robbert 31:06
Predictive analytics is another one for customer insights. I remember, I remember the exact meeting. And it was nine years ago, I was sitting in a meeting when Chris and I worked at the old agency. And Chris introduced our ability as a team to create predictive analytics, because Facebook had come out with, you know, some sort of like, code library, it was profit. So Facebook profit. And myself, and the whole rest of the team just sat there. And we’re like, wow, this is so cool, and so powerful. And then it’s evolved since then. But we’ve been doing it for almost a decade. And so to me, when I see things like this, I’m like, Oh, we’ve had this for so long. You know. And so this is the struggle for companies like ours who’ve been doing artificial intelligence for a long time. It’s exciting to see people like, see what we’ve been talking about and catching up. But at the same time, it’s still lower on the list, people just want that, you know, just have it turned out a bunch of content.

John Wall 32:11
Yeah, lowest common denominator on that it’s, you know, unfortunate, but hopefully, more people will start to realize that they can do a lot more with it and take it further.

Katie Robbert 32:22
Yeah, and so, you know, sort of digging deeper into that, how people are using it. Again, it goes into that sameness of, if everybody’s using ChatGPT, to create their blogs and their website content, where’s your brand, you know, where’s your customer experience, those things aren’t getting the attention that they need? A lot of this, I mean, it comes down to just a whole bunch of different kinds of content.

John Wall 32:48
Yeah, and it’s like, we, it’s interesting, we’re definitely seeing a surge in real estate, like that totally makes sense, you know, the ability to take 50 properties and just do a general description of them. That’s something that’s classic AI like that can be done. And you can, you know, maybe it’s not perfect, but you can cover a lot of ground that up until now was some unfortunate reality or having to grind that job out. So that there are huge opportunities to take advantage of this. And you know, we’re starting to see it pop and certain verticals where it makes more sense.

Katie Robbert 33:18
Yeah, I think real estate is a really good example of that. Yeah, there Absolutely. Is a need for using artificial intelligence to create the content. The risk is when you get into just being 100% reliant on it, and no customization, and it’s just like, oh, no, it just AI will do it.

John Wall 33:40
Yeah, you still want to have somebody proofing or have readers be able to give you feedback positive or negative, because otherwise you have no idea kind of what’s going on there.

Katie Robbert 33:53
And interesting, and this so my, you know, unscientific opinion of this particular data point is this is why companies are okay with cutting costs in sales and marketing and customer experience, because in the very short term, they’re seeing increased sales productivity, probably because they’re using AI to sort of clean up the database and like rearrange customer stuff. So they’re able to like get a hold of their leads a little bit faster. They’re seeing increase in customer satisfaction. You know, that’s real estate, because real estate, they’re probably able to get the listings out there faster. And they’ve lowered marketing overhead costs. Again, someone doesn’t have to sit there and slog through every single new property and type up a one sheet for that. I personally feel like this is really short term. I think that these improved sales productivity and increased customer satisfaction will be short lived if companies continue to cut those budgets and not have actual humans assisting the AI AI to do those things.

John Wall 35:02
Yeah. And it’s, you know, these numbers aren’t massive. I mean, you have a couple of huge winners there, you know, communications and media 14% improve sales productivity. So that’s that’s a sizable thing. But yeah, and I guess these are the kind of numbers that you would see long term, too, you know, is that people will see a less than 10%, left, Once everything is all accounted for as far as building it, having to go through testing, having to still have some people on the team to monitor it and clean it and fix it and update it. It’s not, you know, this is not going to be like a plus 40% thing.

Katie Robbert 35:40
I think, but I but I think that’s the expectation.

John Wall 35:44
Yeah, it’s at full hype, I think we can pretty much point to that right now, where in the Gartner hype cycle, we are, at the peak of inflated expectations, you know, we’re just starting to, there’ll be more and more, calling it out now is not the shiny object over the next six months as that’s yeah, doesn’t just deliver a bag of gold to your door.

Katie Robbert 36:06
So next, so digital marketing and spending strategies, there was a stat that I wanted to get to actually. Well, digital transformation is led by Senior Marketing Leaders. To your point, John, marketing leaders haven’t been sitting in their seats for that long.

John Wall 36:24
Unless it’s so who were the 30% that said that they were not? Like that number is high. And yet, I would expect it to be higher. This audience

Katie Robbert 36:35
you’re like, Yeah, I’m busy. You know what, just let me know when it’s done. Yeah. Let

John Wall 36:39
the CEO tell me where I shouldn’t go with that.

Katie Robbert 36:43
Marketers focus on LinkedIn company, blogs, Instagram, and Facebook with influencers? Not that’s not surprising.

John Wall 36:51
Yeah, what was interesting to see that like, LinkedIn is definitely the king of the hill now with, with x being a raging dumpster fire and Facebook having kind of dried up. And LinkedIn just does it better, right? It’s a subscription model. So you don’t have as much of the spam and garbage people are validated. It’s always business discussion. Yeah, I would go long on LinkedIn over the next five years, it seems like they’re just positioned to still kind of, you know, we’ve got threads coming up, which has been really interesting. But, you know, LinkedIn is established and just, they seem to prepare themselves best for this future.

Katie Robbert 37:26
It is interesting, because I remember LinkedIn was always the Well, no, that’s just your resume online. And now it’s really they’ve been able to turn themselves more into a, you know, water cooler community, where people go to like, actually make connections, because it wasn’t that for a very long time, and I’m get, it really feels like they were just sort of in the background, watching what was going on with Twitter and Facebook and all of these other others. And they’re just like, nope, stay the course. We got this, we’re just going to keep marching forward. And now, people like, oh, LinkedIn, that’s the place to be.

John Wall 38:04
Yeah, it’s classic Microsoft play, right? Like, let somebody else let Facebook burn in the fire, and then walk in and take everything that’s left, it’s right on there. And then them doing stuff like the acquisition of Linda, you know, adding training and education into that. I mean, you could, in theory, see a future where they they know everything about employment, like who’s where, how long they’ve been there. There’s, I only see that database getting more valuable as time goes on.

Katie Robbert 38:30
I think you’re right. I think that’s a really good prediction. We’ll, we’ll have to come back to that one and see how long it takes for that prediction to come true.

John Wall 38:38
Or go up in flames.

Katie Robbert 38:41
influencers? This one I thought was interesting. So mobile spending predicted to increase after recent drop. You know, I feel like So a company like Trust Insights, for example, we don’t really have mobile to spend money on. And so this was assuming that you have some sort of mobile experience some sort of an app. You know, so I just thought it was really interesting, because there’s not a lot of I shouldn’t say that. There’s a decent amount of companies that still don’t have anything to do with mobile.

John Wall 39:18
Yeah, right. There’s a lot of laggards in this space. And again, let’s look clearly at the, they’re expecting it to, you know, be as good as it has been in a year and 12 months, and in five years. It’s gonna be Yeah, 5% Above everything else ever. I mean, it’s you get into weird stuff with these big huge players. Like, you know, you think about like the McDonald’s app or banks having better online apps, there are segments where you could handle a lot of the customer service and so many more parts of the business with a mobile app. So I think as the these laggards kind of catch up or these companies that you know, until now consider themselves too big to need that kind of stuff to be able to dictate the terms. Maybe things are changing on that. But yeah, I don’t know this This one for me was really kind of gray. I wasn’t really sure what the heck was going on here. You know, there’s nothing to clear about what’s going on with this.

Katie Robbert 40:13
This slide, I know, you have opinions on this slide as well. So this data point, companies continue to struggle tracking the entire customer journey, not just the touch points. And so it, you know, it harkens back to where people are spending their money. And so yes, the budget for marketing analytics has increased, but clearly not enough.

John Wall 40:37
Yeah, and unfortunately, you know, part of it is we have kind of realized that we’ve left the golden age of marketing, like, we used to be able to track just about everything, and there’s been so much going on with privacy. And then the major players like Apple deciding to close the doors on a bunch of stuff that used to be tracked. So people are fighting over this turf, and unfortunately, you know, marketing is at the losing end of that it’s just more difficult to track everything that’s going on. So yeah, you know, I mean, worst case, we have to go back to the old days of like, okay, what was the marketing spend? And what were sales, like, you know, and look at that over time, yeah, we can still do all kinds of regression analysis on that. And that’s the stuff that we specialize in. If you are not able to figure out where the traffic is coming from, or what programs are working. That’s right in the wheelhouse for us, we can help you get on track and at least figure out what’s working, because we’ve seen it over and over again, with clients. They’re like, yeah, we thought these programs were all dogs. And so we killed all the spending. And then 16 months later, you know, the pipeline went to zero. And so we had to start spending again, and you don’t want to get caught in that kind of trap. Because if you’re in the average 18 month tenure company, that’s going to be the end of your your time there. So hopefully, you’re somewhere that has a little longer term view, so you get a chance to survive.

Katie Robbert 41:55
So we’re in the last few minutes of this episode. John, is there what other data points did you want to cover? Before we wrap up?

John Wall 42:01
Here, the whole final section was Dei, the journey about diversity and inclusion. And I always screw this up diversity, equity inclusion. And the big takeaway from all this was, these were all nice to have programs like everybody wants to do this and wants to get here. But at one point, yeah, there you go. 79%, decrease like that, just firing off the floor. Like it’s basically Oh, my God, you know, we have to start laying off people and things are going south. So we can start to kill some of these programs to stay alive. And hopefully, they come back next quarter. But that was really the it was interesting that the spending has plunged like a rock. And yet social issues are up, you know, the companies are more companies are taking a stand on social issues. And yeah, I should I should have dug in more, because I imagined this is United States biased heavily if not entirely, because of the political situation here I think has really driven a lot of DEA stuff to become core for a lot of companies. And it’s really interesting to see the impacts that it has on sales in so many places. It’s been negative under a lot of situations. But yeah, like, that’s an ugly slide there. Right? That’s horrible. If especially in America being non white and losing 10% of ground over last year, like that’s just, you know, more of the same bad news as far as we’re concerned. So I don’t know, what did you think about this stuff?

Katie Robbert 43:30
Well, it’s, well, first of all, it’s very disappointing to see. But it also goes back to who’s responding to this survey. It’s enterprise sized companies that traditionally are slower to adapt. So you have healthcare, you have transportation, you have pharma, you have retail, biotech, all of those, those, those larger, and the larger the companies get, this goes back to like, the tenure of the people sitting in the leadership seats tends to be longer, which means that things tend to change slower, which means that issues like this tend to go unaddressed. Because they’re not seen as priorities, because there’s a bit of tunnel vision when you get to that leadership team of like, well, no, this is what we’ve been doing this works like, you know, that doesn’t apply to us, that could be someone else. And then you have you know, these companies are so big and so siloed so like, on the one hand, they’ve been using artificial intelligence because they can afford the IBM Systems but on the other hand, their culture is stuck in 1950.

John Wall 44:42
Trying to dig their way out of decades of bad behavior.

Katie Robbert 44:48
And so that’s when we get into the marketing leadership rate whether marketing feels increasing pressure from the following leaders to provide value value, so on and surprising, the CFO wants to know what’s going on, that’s the money person, they want to know what the heck they’re spending on, because they’re the ones making the decision of what to cut. So that is that was an unsurprising stat to me, the board CEO, like those are pretty consistent, they want to know what’s going on, but they’re not necessarily the ones that are, you know, holding the purse strings. Senior Marketing Leaders are more likely to be asked by their CEO and or CFO to participate, make sense, they should probably have a seat at the table, let you know what’s going on how people are coming in. And then which activities to senior marketing find challenging to implement, demonstrating the impact of marketing. Again, that’s sort of what we do. That’s what we help you with. That’s what a lot of our regression and attribution and marketing mix modeling and all that sort of good stuff does. If that’s what you’re struggling with, then let us help you figure that out, because it shouldn’t be this high, it shouldn’t be 61.2% can’t demonstrate the impact of their marketing on finance.

John Wall 46:05
Yeah, again, this is just I did this is like the crying section of the report this life is so bad, you know, I don’t really understand why we care if you’re getting punched by the board, the CMO or the CEO, but, you know, here we are,

Katie Robbert 46:22
you know, focusing data and analytics on the most important marketing problems, again, using your data to make decisions, we can help with that. But these are the things that, you know, if you’re trying to figure out where to cut your budget, you should be stronger in these pieces, so that you know, where in your budget, it’s safe to cut. So for us, you know, we know that focusing heavily on social media, not a strong channel, because we’ve done the analysis, we know that influencers not a strong thing for us. So we don’t even spend money on that, you know, that could change over time, you have to redo the analysis. But, man, I mean, this slides like this, just break my heart.

John Wall 47:03
Yeah, these are? Well, there was a similar slide two that totally matches with, you know, about 34% are actually doing testing. You know, there’s a huge swath of organizations that don’t test anything. Well, now they have to pay the price for that, you know, they have to find the budget, money in the budget to cut, and they have no idea where to cut first.

Katie Robbert 47:23
And then you have the section on the marketing organization itself. This is helpful, but I don’t think that this section of at least for me, I didn’t find this section to be all that helpful. I know that there is forever the debate over who should report to who should sales report to marketing or should marketing report to sales? I mean, and so this could at least give you some semblance of what you could be doing. And I agree that sales and marketing work together on an equal equal level probably makes the most sense. But you’re gonna have people who strongly disagree with that sentiment.

John Wall 48:04
Yeah, it’s, you know, it’s interesting to see I’ve always kind of go in with the traction research that said that, like, it doesn’t really matter, it matters that everyone works together. Well, it doesn’t really matter what badge they wear, as far as titles, you know that this is one of those things where you can’t just throw people in a certain bucket, and it’s going to work out, right, like the people need to be able to work together and do the right thing. It is interesting to see some of the distribution of where employees are like are the larger orgs, shifting more towards work from home and that kind of stuff, or having more marketing out in the field. But yeah, I’m with you, in that you kind of don’t see a lot of, there’s not a lot to glean from this info, because it’s like, okay, so the multibillion dollar companies, yeah, they have 100 employees at the home office, because they’re making TV commercials, and they’re doing all this stuff that the, you know, under 100 million group is not doing so. Yeah, I don’t know, you know, what that really tells you, but it is interesting, just to kind of get a lay of the land.

Katie Robbert 48:59
And so the last couple of sections, so you have marketing jobs. And so I mean, but we’ve seen this, you know, with our peers, and you know, all the time is that, you know, what percent has the size of your marketing organization grown or shrunk. And so you can see, there was a huge growth period last year, and then it’s just little itty bitty. And we can see that by the number of people who’ve been laid off, people are still looking for jobs, people who are picking up contract work, people starting their own thing for lack of any other jobs available. You know, it’s it falls in line with the budgets that are being cut, as well, because there’s a lot of pressure to save that money. So you get into the you get into all the breakdown, marketing hires. It’s gone up, but not substantially. And so people are still struggling.

John Wall 49:52
Right. Yeah. But you know, and that is false data that’s not projected. So, right. I think what you’ve got is Massive churn, right? Like the total number of new jobs is increasing, but you’ve got a massive number of layoffs on top of that, too. So it’s, yeah, it’s ugly, but it’s not as ugly as I thought it was gonna be to be honest.

Katie Robbert 50:13
And the very last section before we wrap up of marketing performance it’s interesting because this, if you look at it, it says, rate your company’s performance, but yet 61.2% struggle to understand what their marketing is doing. So this is just a general like, gut feeling like I think it’s doing okay. You know, and so this bothers me a lot, because we know from the previous analysis that people don’t know what their marketing is doing.

John Wall 50:47
Yeah, they’re using the force when they are coming up with this answer here. So yeah, very, very true. I think one interesting thing is just the, they feel like the value of marketing is going down, but profits are actually going up because they’ve managed to find that money elsewhere. And so whether that’s via just inflationary pricing, which is huge for this segment of food manufacturers, oil companies, you know, those kinds of people, or is it more efficient operations? But yeah, I don’t know. Oh, my goodness, that’s looking like a real inflation number there?

Katie Robbert 51:20
Well, you know, I mean, it sort of goes back to what you’re saying, like, yeah, if you caught all of your marketing activities, and you cut half the team, of course, your profits are gonna go up.

John Wall 51:29
Yeah, right. You take those salaries off the table. Start looking great.

Katie Robbert 51:35
All right. So what is our overall takeaway of this report? John,

John Wall 51:40
what are your overall ultimate summary for me is like, it’s bad, but not, you know, pure Armageddon, like, maybe we have. And this is always the way it works with these economic indicators. Is somebody six months from now will go back and be like, oh, yeah, that was the recession there. Because we were down for three quarters in a row and things were bad and hiring is off. So yeah, I don’t know it. We’ve made it to October 26. Usually, the stock market explodes before now, you know, if it’s going to be a year from hell, and, you know, course, prices change state, we have got five days for things to go to hell, but but there’s a weekend in there in New York doesn’t do anything over the weekend. But yeah, I think, you know, the situation is grim. There’s still opportunities. But yeah, this is not one of the sunny years, that’s for sure.

Katie Robbert 52:27
I would agree with that. I think that if you’re looking to cut budgets, you know, take a look at the software that you’re not using. Take a look at all the free trials that maybe you signed up for, and then they’re like, Oh, well, we’re just going to charge your credit card, because you’re looking at, you’re not paying attention in the background. You know, talk to your team’s like, you know, maybe, you know, maybe John is a content writer, but really he you know, has a specialty background in SEO, and you just haven’t been utilizing those skill sets, you know, so really do that deep dive with your team and do a skill set audit before you start just blindly making cuts. And if you’re cutting brand, if you’re cutting customer experience, then I would, you know be so bold as to say you’re already doing it wrong, because those are your differentiators from your competitors.

John Wall 53:16
Yeah, that’s solid advice. No, I would definitely go with that. Because it’s an eye for, you know, kind of a plea for different approaches, at any AUROC. If you have the option between doing a layoff or talking to the team and say, Hey, do we, you know, cut out but bonuses or trim salaries for two quarters to keep everybody on the team? Those are the kinds of places you want to be those are the places over the long run where you look back on your career glad to be there, as opposed to someplace where you get kicked to the curb because it’s Christmas and the CEO wants his $200 million bonus.

Katie Robbert 53:51
Well, on that happy note, if you want help to determine the value of your marketing, you can reach us at trust And if you want to join our free Slack community to join the conversation where people are asking and answering each other’s questions every single day. I think we’re up to over 3000 members, maybe closer to four at this point. We’d love to see you there. We’d love to see what you have going on with your marketing budgets, your annual planning, so you can join us there for free you will find myself John and Chris. And until next time, I think that’s it for now. Have a good week.

Christopher Penn 54:27
Thanks for watching today. Be sure to subscribe to our show wherever you’re watching it. For more resources. And to learn more. Check out the Trust Insights podcast at trust AI podcast and a weekly email newsletter at trust Got questions about what you saw on today’s episode. Join our free analytics for markers slack group at trust for marketers See you next time.

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