Marketing Planning | 5 min. read

CMOs Tell All: Insider Strategies for Economic Resilience in ‘23

Written by Nik Stapleton, 19.04.2023

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A metaphor of four business people three pushing red cubes and one who thinks differently pushing a red sphere

It’s a tough, fast-paced world out there, isn’t it? So, let’s cut to the quick. We’ve gone through key findings of the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s 2023 CMOs Global Study, so you don’t have to, and we’re here to share some handy tips to keep your business and team on top of their game. Read on as we look into the main challenges marketers face, like talent shortages and shifting customer needs, and explore ways you can tackle them.


Budgets Defy Economic Blues

Despite a bleak UK economy, the marketing sector’s confidence in 2023 is hanging in there, with 53% of marketers thinking it’s tougher than pre-pandemic times [compared to 52% last year]. 59% still saw their budgets grow, and only 18% faced cuts. Best of all, 53% expect even bigger budgets next year, predicting a rise of 11-20%.

So even on the economic rollercoaster we find ourselves on, sales and marketing budgets have mostly survived the ride. Looking ahead, 33% of marketers reckon there’ll be no changes, while just over half [56%] are crossing their fingers for a boost. 6% are bracing for a drop, showing that marketers and businesses still believe in the power of their work.


Biggest Marketing Hurdles: Talent Shortages & Skyrocketing Salaries

Man with a series of hurdles in front of him

Senior marketers have their work cut out for them, facing problems like skill shortages, soaring salaries, and keeping their top talent. A whopping 73% are worried about the lack of skills, 72% about recruitment, and 61% about holding on to their star players. As a result, CMOs are focusing on nurturing skills in data analysis, digital marketing, and management.

The Hays Salary & Recruiting Trends 2023 Guide backs this up, revealing a jaw-dropping 93% of employers struggled with skill shortages last year – a big jump from the previous year’s 80%. To make matters worse, employee morale is taking a nosedive because of skill gaps, with 52% of employers seeing it as the top casualty.

Outside factors aren’t helping either, like the cost of living crisis [84%], changing consumer behaviour [76%], attracting and keeping customers [69%], and the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis [28%]. Worse still, 28% of marketers even think their brand is falling behind in addressing customers’ changing needs.

Marketing has turned into a mix of ‘Art and Science’, putting equal weight on creative services and digital and analytical skills. While analytical skills are now often seen as essential, there’s a risk of imbalance. Businesses may lack the creativity needed to tackle today’s challenges, as seen in fewer creative leaders in the C-suite and less emphasis on creative skills among CMOs and marketing talent.


Stepping up to the Plate – Tackling the Challenges Head On

Winning and Keeping Customers

Let’s face it, winning and keeping customers is the name of the game for any business, and you need creative thinking to make it happen. Creativity isn’t just for one-off ads or campaigns anymore – it’s a must-have, shifting CMOs’ focus from single projects to constantly reviewing products, services, and experiences that make their brands really shine.

A common trap for marketers is thinking they’re targeting other businesses when it’s the people working for those companies making the decisions. Humanising your brand and cleverly using emotional marketing is a game-changer, especially as the going is getting tougher.

LinkedIn’s B2B Institute backs this up with research on emotional messaging in B2B marketing. It turns out emotional messaging has a more significant long-term impact, while rational messaging is better for short-term results. Just like B2C, emotional priming works wonders for B2B brand building, as it doesn’t rely on people actively wanting to buy the product, brand, or category at that moment. Well-branded, captivating marketing that hits the right emotions and associations boosts demand when the opportunity to buy comes along. So, keeping creativity at the heart of your marketing plan is key to winning new customers and keeping existing ones loyal.


Proving Your Worth to the Board

In 2023, current budgets and future ones will rely on a marketer’s ability to speak the board’s language and show their impact. A recent LinkedIn study found a massive 98% of B2B marketing leaders believe improving the CFO’s understanding of marketing ROI is crucial for strengthening future budgets. With economic uncertainty, CMOs will have to do more with less, so it’s vital for marketing leaders to measure their work’s impact on sales metrics like revenue influenced or return on ad spend. This year, learning to speak your board’s language, especially the CFO’s, should be at the top of your to-do list.


So, What Steps Can We Take to Beat Skills and Resource Shortages?

First off, figure out the biggest skill shortages in your business. Take a long, hard look at your current projects, then compare them to your goals. Are there key deliverables you’re missing? Are your campaigns just not cutting it? Here are some tips for dealing with in-house skill and resource shortages.

Give Employees a Boost with Training: Investing in team development is one of the best ways to bridge the skill gap. This could be anything from learning on the job to proper classroom sessions or online courses. With loads of training options out there, it’s essential to choose the right one.

Grow Your Own Talent: Why not help your employees spread their wings? Set up mentorship schemes where experienced team members can pass on their wisdom to newer colleagues. Also, create cross-functional teams that encourage working together, so people can learn from each other and build up their skills.

Don’t let in-house resources go to waste: Spot underused skills and put them to work on the right projects. Encourage team members to take charge of their personal growth and look for chances to use their talents in fresh ways.

Create a Learning Culture: Aim for a workplace where non-stop learning and professional growth are the name of the game. Get your team to go to conferences, workshops, and industry events to stay in the know about the latest marketing trends and top tips.

Bring in Collaboration Tools: Use digital collaboration tools to make communication and knowledge sharing between team members a breeze. This leads to better problem-solving and lets employees learn from each other.

Boost Efficiency with AI: AI-driven language models are a real asset. With these tools in your arsenal, you’ll soon be saving time on everyday tasks, so you can concentrate on what you should be doing – strategy.

Hire Some Outside Help: Teaming up with an external marketing agency can seriously ease the load, especially when it comes to whipping up creative work. By partnering with a specialist agency, you’ll have access to a wide range of strategic input and creative know-how across different fields, like concept and campaign development – to really differentiate your comms. This means your in-house team can learn and benefit from the agency’s experience and insights while you focus on your day job.


Changing Tack: From Daunting to Doable

Adapting to the ever-changing marketing landscape, especially in this economy, might feel like a tall order, but armed with the right strategies, you’ll take those challenges in your stride. Don’t be shy about seeking outside help to boost your marketing game and keep pace with the industry’s shifting demands. If you need a hand, we’re here to help. Talk to Intermedia

Originally published April 19, 2023

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