The average tenure for a chief marketing officer (CMO) was down to approximately 23 months in 2006, according to a study by executive search firm Spencer Stuart and reported in BtoB magazine on 5/7/07. The Spencer Stuart study also found that nearly three-quarters of CEO’s and board members consider the marketing organization “highly influential and strategic” in the enterprise, but nearly two-thirds say that their top marketers don’t provide adequate ROI with which to gauge marketing’s true performance.

Another recent survey reported that only 7 percent of senior-level financial executives are satisfied with their company’s ability to measure marketing ROI. The survey also points out that less than 10 percent of these executives indicated that their company had a separate budget allocated for measuring marketing effectiveness. (Marketing Management Analytics and Financial Executives International survey, revenue magazine May/June 2007).

“I worry about what will happen to the future of marketing leadership because of the turmoil-the short life span [in the CMO position], the pressure and the high expectations,” said Greg Welch, head of the CMO practice at Spencer Stuart. The steady stream of departures among high profile senior marketing executives is evidence of this “turmoil”. Just this year, Macy’s CMO, AT&T’s CMO, Verizon’s VP of marketing and the CMO at Wachovia all left their positions. (BtoB)

The mounting pressure on CMO’s, combined with corporate executives being dissatisfied with the lack of measurement of ROI by these marketers, creates the perfect opportunity for more companies to adopt direct response marketing initiatives to address these problems. This also represents a big opportunity for our industry to step in and help these companies develop direct marketing programs. Since the direct response marketing model is all about measuring ROI, it seems like more of these marketing executives will now be open to testing out direct response advertising.

Of course there are many CMO’s outside of the direct response industry that are doing a good job. The BtoB article notes that Martin Etherington, VP-marketing at Tektronix said his marketing department is 100% accountable and measurable and it aligns its metrics with the strategic objectives of the company. However, it appears that this type of marketing measurement and accountability is not yet that widespread among Fortune 1000 CMO’s, judging by the high turnover and the survey feedback from corporate executives.

From the perspective of a direct marketer who lives in a world of total accountability, the need for more accountability and better ways to measure ROI among traditional marketers seems like a relatively easy problem to address. However, many of the Fortune 1000 brand marketers work with mega ad agencies that have been slow to move away from traditional brand marketing and adopt the principles of direct marketing. Perhaps the increasing pressure on CMO’s will force them to take a more serious look at the power and accountability of drtv marketing.