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Marketing is a (Buyer) Journey, Not a Destination

Posted By IBM, 01 November 2015
Updated: 09 February 2016

CMOs are implementing significant shifts in where and how they allocate marketing spend.

In the ‘Customer in Control’ marketing age, marketers are experiencing a renaissance within their discipline. It is already disrupting how marketing operates and is re-writing the rules for the future.

To understand how marketing is evolving, The CMO Club in partnership with IBM surveyed 100 Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs). Then, we sat down with eight respected marketing executives to get their perspectives on the research, the marketplace and the implications.

Two notable trends we gathered from 100 CMOs:

1. CMOs are pivoting their marketing to include customer retention/advocacy while concurrently allocating investment across the entire customer journey, not by channel. Traditionally, marketing has been focused on awareness – reach and frequency, staying on message, and stuffing the top of the purchase funnel. However, the research revealed that today’s CMO is much more focused on investing across the entire customer journey from discover to advocacy – with an understanding that journeys have changed dramatically. Overall, marketing budgets were reported up, due to either strategic funds or strong organic increases, but so are expectations. Furthermore, CMOs are planning to increase their spending across every stage of the buyer journey over the next two years by an average of 50 percent.

2. Marketers are constantly testing, failing, winning and innovating with their digital multitaskers. As they are doing this, they are less interested in uni-directional tactics (e.g., television, print) and prefer multitasking digital tactics. Digital is rapidly gaining favor as marketers engage in closer dialogue with their customers across the buyer journey.

The main reason for this is both practical and strategic in nature. CMOs want to engage where their customers are – and that is increasing disproportionately into digital realms. The fact that digital channels are multitasking (addressing the buyer at different stages of their journey) and offering rapid feedback is allowing for more agile and nimble experimentation to test different approaches.

What follows are four key takeaways CMOs can apply to their own marketing strategies.

Four key takeaways from the CMO Study:

1. Understand that we’re in a Marketing Renaissance

Spencer Stuart reports that average CMO tenure is at 48 months – double where it was in 2004. As the recruiting and consulting firm has stated, “CMOs’ ability to leverage digital and analytics to create value for the business has been a factor in longer tenure. The ability to create measurably successful marketing initiatives built on customer insight has increased CMOs’ credibility in the C-suite.”

Accordingly, marketing budgets are rising. Our research found that 57% of respondents indicated their budgets would increase over the next 2-3 years. Duke University’s CMO Survey also reported in February 2015 that marketing budgets were expected to rise at their highest percentage (8.7%) in the next year.

Respondents indicated that their annual budgets may only be slightly increasing, however the ability to show quantifiable return on investment (ROI) is enabling access to strategic and innovation budgets that weren’t previously accessible.

And where are they investing their increasing marketing dollars? Content marketing. The CMO respondents reported that content (13%) is leading the charge. That is followed by digital advertising (11%), traditional advertising (11%), and even those analog, physical activities (11%) remain important.

2. Invest across the experience, not the funnel

Unlike their traditional counterparts, marketers in this new age of marketing are increasingly focused on the entire buyer journey. Our research shows that on average, marketing budgets are being invested evenly across the buyer journey, with the highest investment at the Buy stage (21%), followed by Discover (20%), Learn (16%), Try (16%), with Advocate (14%) and Use (13%) rounding it out.

What’s interesting is that marketers are planning to spend even more on the buyer journey, with CMOs planning to increase spending in each stage by an average of 50%. Furthermore, many CMOs identified a significant change in their buyers’ journey due to the digital disruption of the last 10 years. In short, the customer now dictates the journey, with or without you.

3. Bet on every horse in the race

Marketers are testing the waters by experimenting across tactics and buyer stages. In a sense, they are initially putting bets on every horse at the start of the race, but leveraging agile approaches to reallocate resources to the leading “horses” mid-race and increasing their chance to win the day.

What’s behind this experimental approach to budgeting? Fifty-three percent said that the main reason for experimenting with different allocations across they buyer cycle is due to the imperative to generate higher revenue. And 20% say that they are experimenting with different allocations because better data and technology allows them to measure the success (and failure) of each experimentation, so they can quickly identify winning approaches and pivot away from less-than-effective ones.

4. Learn from the rise of the digital multitaskers

CMOs clearly indicated in the survey that they are growing less interested in uni-directional tactics (e.g., television, print), but prefer multitasking using digital methods. Our research strongly shows this shifting interest with a 52% traditional and 48% digital spending split.

Digital is clearly king as marketers endeavor to get into closer dialogue with their customers across the buyer journey. The main reason for this is practical in nature, CMOs want to be where their customers are – and that is increasing disproportionately into digital realms.

Regardless, the rise of the digital multitasker is here. CMOs consistently rank social, website, email, digital and apps as their preferred tactics within each buyer stage. By investing in digital channels, CMOs are able to hedge their investments and deploy tactics across multiple buyer stages at the same time.

The fact that digital channels are multitasking (addressing the buyer at different stages of their journey) may have been a fortunate accident rather than an intentional investment. However, this approach allows for more agile and nimble experimentation to test different tactics. ROI attribution is a secondary bonus.

Peer advice: Practical how-to’s

Today: Evaluate your understanding of the buyer journey and how you create an experience. Don’t assume your buyer’s journey has not changed in the last few years as many CMOs are discovering shifts or even complete flips where they engage with the customer. Remember the customer does not care about your org chart and are engaging outside of the marketing department (e.g., sales, customer service, your other customers).

Tomorrow: Challenge your mental models of marketing and how/where you engage with your customer’s buyer journey. Evaluate who you will need to partner with in your organisation to deliver a better customer experience. Traditional media is not dead but the measurement and adaptability of digital channels means we need to evaluate where digital or a hybrid digital/traditional approach will create a better experience.

Next month: Run, don’t walk. Longer CMO tenures, access to strategic budgets, and newly quantifiable marketing plans are enabling you to transform your organisation and quickly show impact. Don’t forget the content needed to fuel the machine, but evaluate if you are encouraging more or precise content.

Next quarter: Make experimenting (and failing) systemic and part of your culture. It will not happen overnight. Actions including allocating a set percentage of your budget for edgy, untested ideas and enabling the team to become domain experts in new channels will support experimentation without reprisal if it goes sideways. Place multiple bets before the race, but measure and agilely move your bets mid-race, not after the season is over.

This article was first published on IBM

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Q&A with Ray Kelly, Marketing Director, Musgrave Retail Partners Ireland

Posted By The Marketing Institute, 27 October 2015
Updated: 10 February 2016
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I think that continually staying very close to shoppers has never been more important. As the economy starts to move from recovery into growth, shopper behaviour and attitudes will start to shift.  Staying close to this change will be key.

Not only are behaviours changing but how consumers are interacting with brands are also changing. As digital becomes a more integral part of everyday life, more and more your shoppers will tell your marketing message for you (you are less in control of the message!)…be it good or bad. The implication here is that retailers need to be aware of this and strive for brilliance across the full omni channel experience.


First and foremost be very clear on what your brand stands for and excels at. Do not try and be all things to all men, because at best you will end up as average. Know clearly who your customer is (and isn’t) and ensure your brand delivers brilliantly for them. Consumers want great experience not just products. Brands and retailers need to ensure that this experience is engaging across all channels.


The retail sector is very active in the digital space, but in reality is still finding its feet as to what works and what doesn’t work.  Simply “advertising” in the digital space as they would in traditional media and expecting a big result is not enough. Consumers on digital are very savvy, and can skip/ignore/get around “traditional” advertising on digital. In effect, a lot of it is possibly wasteful.

Understanding how shoppers are actually using digital channels is key. Is it for research? Comparisons? What to do with the product etc. Only then can retailers drive effective marketing and provide details or experiences that their shoppers actually want.


Shoppers want great experiences with whatever product or service they are buying. Digital simply enhances or makes this easier or more convenient. The store experience is crucially important in making this experience brilliant. Important that it works seamlessly with the digital experience and not in competition to it. Retailers that get this and execute it seamlessly are the ones that will win. Front line staff directed in the right way will bring this experience to life brilliantly. Less about selling products and more about selling experiences.


For millenials most things start with digital.  They are digital natives so they don’t go to digital channels. Digital is just part of what they are and do. Understanding this and engaging them with the right content and digital experience is key. The ”older” generation tend to go to digital for something specific. Be it on-line delivery, instructions etc.


What’s working really well for SuperValu is the sharing of recipes and food inspiration by shoppers to other shoppers primarily via our web site, Twitter and Facebook. This is almost self-generating now and is a great example of shoppers buying into our brand and sharing this with others. Where can we do better? Continuing to further push our current activity and making sure our content is what our shoppers want and is best in class.


I think SuperValu has the right mix for now on the traditional and digital mix of marketing. Our focus is and will continue to give the best Omni channel experience to our shoppers. Essentially ensuring that the dots are joining up between traditional media, digital/social channels and importantly the experience in store. We are pursuing a lot of exciting areas in personalisation through the use of our loyalty card. This enables us to get better at personalised comms and offers to our shoppers.  Again, engaging them in the right way. The ultimate utopia is getting the elusive “one view” of the shopper, and the increasing role of digital in the mix helps to paint some of this bigger picture. This in turn allows SuperValu the opportunity to satisfy our shoppers more and so grow their loyalty with the brand.

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Marketing Your Nursing Home – Case Study

Posted By, 19 October 2015
Updated: 10 February 2016
Marketing for Healthcare

    Digital marketing agency in the healthcare sector, Encendo, recently carried out a pioneering survey to understand behaviours and motivations when choosing a nursing home.

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    This survey was originally published on

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    Budget 2016 Analysis by PwC

    Posted By PwC, 14 October 2015
    Updated: 09 February 2016
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    PwC specialists have taken a look at how this year’s key budget developments will affect you and your business.

    The report provides expert analysis on areas such as:

    • Large Irish Corporates and Plcs,
    • Private Business,
    • Financial Services,
    • Foreign Direct Investment,
    • Country by Country Reporting,
    • Property,
    • Indirect taxes,
    • Employment taxes,
    • Pensions,
    • Agri tax.

    To download the full report, please click on the image below.

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    This report was originally published on

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    Irish Rugby Stars Victorious in Public Support

    Posted By, 13 October 2015
    Updated: 10 February 2016
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      More than a year post retirement. Brian O’Driscoll has retained his number 1 status on Ireland’s most admired sports personality list, while Ireland captain Paul O’Connell made most gains in terms of public admiration of all Irish sports stars this year, according to the latest Onside StarTrack 2015, by sponsorship consultants Onside.

      17% of Irish adults singled out the ex-Irish rugby supremo O’Driscoll as the sports personality they admire most overall, while Katie Taylor was next in line at 11%, up 1% year on year as she prepares for the journey to Rio 2016.  But it was Rugby World Cup captain Paul O’Connell that has stood out as the Irish sports star making most gains in Irish public admiration across the year to date, a position converted by Onside in real terms into an extra ¼ million Irish public ‘avid fans’ of the rugby hero this year.  3 in 10 surveyed singled out a rugby star, with the collective of soccer stars next in line at 12%.

      The other sports personality showing marked positive momentum in terms of public support in the latest edition of the Onside tracker was Conor McGregor – climbing into the Top 10 for the first time at 6th place, two spots behind current Irish soccer team assistant manager Roy Keane and a 5th place Rory McIlroy (no change year on year).

      Commenting on O`Connell`s results this year,  John Trainor, Founder and CEO of Onside notes: “Paul O’Connell has gained the highest admiration scores recorded for him this decade in our research and has most likely grown this further through Rugby World Cup 2015. His support was particularly high in his native Munster where he comfortably topped the poll.”

      Trainor notes that “the battle for admiration proved particularly interesting when segmented by age, with Irish 18-24 year olds surveyed by Onside scoring Katie Taylor and Roy Keane as the personalities holding most appeal.”

      Irish soccer star Robbie Keane also made some ground in the 2015 Onside StarTrack survey, holding 7th position, with a gain of 2% year on year.  The top 10 is closed out by 3 stars that have completed the active participation phase of their careers – Henry Shefflin, Ronan O’Gara and Sonia O’Sullivan.

      And early indications from the Onside consultants are that 2016 may see a continuation of the return to positive growth in spend by brands in the personality endorsement arena. Trainor points to “brands in 2015 like Bank of Ireland that have effectively engaged with ambassadors like Shane Lowry and Irish rugby stars including Paul O’Connell and notes that a number of factors are at play that will stimulate such growth further, including interest in athletes in the run into the Olympics in Rio 2016 and Irish footballers appeal on foot of any Euros soccer qualification.”

      However Trainor cautions against brands that see personality endorsement as an easy win to build brand appeal and conversion to business growth.  “An association with a top athlete can be a highly effective way to engage with fans, but without a well-developed activation plan, it can under-perform significantly.  Low single digit outcomes are the results for many brands that fail to use this channel built on sound plans.”

      Outside of sport, The Onside StarTrack 2015 also found that Ryan Tubridy has retained the number one performance as the most admired television or radio personality in Ireland, with 12% of adults naming the RTE personality.  Meanwhile Gay Byrne is enjoying a resurgence in his appeal as he ranks second to Tubridy, ahead of Miriam O’Callaghan in 3rd place.  TV3 host Vincent Browne and Today FM breakfast host Ian Dempsey also made positive gains in the new research.

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