IT’S NO SECRET that CMOs are navigating a huge marketing talent gap. In a recent article on the subject of performance marketing, Paul Roetzer wrote this: “digital-savvy firms are in short supply and for the time being, the agency landscape remains littered with traditional agencies struggling to transform their archaic business models.”


So where is the CMO in this transformation exactly?

Barely visible.

According to Accenture and The Economist Intelligence Unit, one-third of C-suite executives (35%) say the CEO is responsible for digital innovation. The chief technology officer and chief information officer follow closely at 23% and 22% respectively. The CMO, however, is at 1%. No it’s not a typo, 1% is the number and to me that is alarming.

As digital capabilities take hold, it’s the CDO’s that are rising in numbers. And they are staunch believers in the marketing function. They are very likely to say that CMOs will be the most important relationship for the CEO over the next five years, surpassing other C-suite executives. CDOs are also concerned with every digital touchpoint, and rightfully so.

My recommendation to CMOs by the way; build digital alliances and fast! It’s time to get in the game and show your CEOs that you’re in it. The digital opportunity is significant, it’s profound, and it’s changing at breakneck speed, much faster than internal marketing teams can ever keep up with. As soon as they’ve started to master something, it’s evolved again. So where do you turn? The agency. But not the agency of old. Find yourself a disruptor.

The rise of the disruptive agency

True disruptive agencies are Digital First, period. Don’t look for a traditional agency with a digital department. That just won’t work. It’s not enough unfortunately. Traditional agencies are filled with strategists, consultants, and talkers but not walkers. It’s just that simple. The true disruptor has digital engrained into their DNA and they are the heavy lifters, the doers of the agency world. They focus on delivery, not only of campaigns, but of results! The disruptive agency is filled with programmers, engineers, scientists and mathematicians as well as marketers who sit smack in the middle of the technology and marketing intersection. It’s a very special skillset.

I’ll give you an example of an engagement we are working on right now for a business in the US. We are a partner in their business. Our entire approach is customized for their specific needs and requirements. We’re not merely a provider of services to this business we are in business with them. And we’re paid to deliver results. Solid numbers. Solid ROI.

The first thing the CMO wanted to know was “can you do the delivery”. He wasn’t looking for consulting with a lot of pomp and circumstance, he wanted a partner who could deliver real performance marketing to move the business forward, and that’s just what we’re doing. We have clarity and alignment and the owner of the strategy, is our client. Our job is to deliver tactics strategically to meet their goals and revenue targets.

This is where the disruptor excels!

How performance marketing is done

There are a number of different ways to fill each stage of the conversion funnel from awareness to purchase. Questions you should ask your agency of record or your prospective digital agency are really quite simple:

  • Can you actually fill each stage of the funnel for us?
  • What do you recommend for creating awareness?
  • How do you drive engagement?
  • Can you provide us with sales ready leads?

If they can’t give you solid examples of how they can move prospects through the funnel and even bring in prospects at each stage of the buying cycle, don’t bother. And if you’re wondering if a digital agency can really bring in sales ready leads without lengthy nurturing processes, the answer is most definitely yes.

What we always try to do for our clients is a tri-fold strategy for lead generation. Filling the top of the funnel for them builds a strong database to engage. A solid nurturing strategy will keep them engaged, and bringing in sales ready leads that will close relatively quickly will bring in the needed revenue to continue funding their marketing initiatives. While it’s simple enough, it really isn’t all that easy, but the concept certainly is.

The bottom line is that the digital space is a much more accountable and measurable medium than any traditional media ever could be. It takes experts to navigate it for you properly to deliver the precious ROI you need.