March 5, 2024

Three ways CMOs can eliminate marginal programs, platforms and partners

In today’s current environment with the COVID-19 pandemic, chief marketing officers (CMOs) must focus on high-impact initiatives and eliminate marginal programs, platforms and partnerships that no longer serve the organization, according to Gartner. In fact, a Gartner poll of 176 marketers on March 20 showed that 65% of marketing leaders report that COVID-19 would significantly or moderately decrease their marketing budgets.

“Given the current uncertain and volatile climate, CMOs are under increased pressure to make every investment and every resource count,” said Chris Ross, the VP analyst for Gartner for Marketers. “Delivering value means maintaining clarity and focus, despite the frantic pace and complex conditions. Marginal activities are created or tolerated because organizations lack the discipline to regularly put all programs, tools and partnerships on the table, and objectively review which are making optimal marketing impact and which are dead weight.”

To do this, Gartner recommends that CMOs take the following actions:

  1. Pare down programs. Marginal programs may provide some positive return, which keeps them from being cut or eliminated. However, a program that looks like a positive performer may be consuming a disproportionate amount of resources or have significant opportunity cost. “Evaluate everything with a discerning eye to determine whether the continued investment in time and resources is justified,” said Mr. Ross.
  2. Start with a “use it or lose it” mindset for martech investments. According to Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2019-2020, marketing leaders invest nearly one-third of their overall marketing expense budgets in marketing technology. However, they are using less than 58% of their martech stack capabilities. This contrast between strong investments and underutilization signals a huge resource drain. Adopt a “use it or lose it” mindset by cutting technologies that are either no longer in use or are underused.
  3. Re-evaluate partner relationships. Marketing agencies, consultancies and other marketing service providers continue to play an essential role in supporting most marketing organizations. However, it’s possible for partnership portfolios to contain marginal partners, creating a burden on budgets and resources. Narrow the marketing team’s scope of work by clarifying and prioritizing what’s most worthy of investment.

The full report is available to Gartner for Marketers clients in “The CMO’s Guide to Eliminating Marginal Programs, Platforms and Partners.”

Gartner for Marketers provides the objective, expert advice and proven tools that CMOs and other marketing leaders need to seize the right opportunities with clarity and confidence, and to stay ahead of the trends that matter. With in-depth research and analysis, Gartner for Marketers helps clients focus on the opportunities with the greatest potential to deliver results.


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