Behind Closed Doors: CMOs planning to Accelerate Growth for 2011

I was fortunate to attend yet another Forbes exclusive CMO Summit in sunny Palm Beach Florida at the Breakers Resort. Last year in 2009, we heard from CMOs that they had plans to increase their spending in social media –and they were preparing for growth, and I’m here to discuss the trends heard direct from the mouths of CMOs at this private, high quality event. ┬áHere are the recurring trends I heard from this group of top CMOs in this private event.

Macro Trend: CMOs to plan for Growth and Prepare Investments
We kicked off the event from a macro viewpoint from Steve Forbes himself (I was pleased to enjoy a dinner with him, and learn from his global insights), noting how growth has started to occur, and how Chief Marketing Officers will shift away from planning to accelerating growth.

Yet are Struggling with a Myriad of Challenges
CMOs aren’t in the clear yet, they are plagued with a myriad of challenges such as loss of reputation, constant struggle deploying and measuring social media. A variety of jockeying still occurs within the CSuite as the CMO depends –yet has to prove efforts to CFO, and technology platforms from the CIO. Above all we heard that brands now must “stand for something” beyond just revenue numbers –positioning to the core of what a brand stands for must be revisited.

The Consumer Continues to Allude Marketers
The room certainly felt how the customers has changed, they use different communication channels, and want different forms of media. We heard that marketers are engaging customers with short form media and content referred to as “Snackable”. As consumers have shifted their habits to talking to each other using social tools, brands must be ready to tackle the tough conversations and be sure they have a “thick skin”.

Social Media, the Unanswered Medium
We heard from a variety of CMOs that have had successful –and unsuccessful — endevours with social media that they are beyond whether or not it matters, it was a recurring theme throughout the event. Yet what challenges CMOs with social channels is integrating it with other efforts like the TV spot, traditional advertising and the corporate website. CMOs are seeking how social media efforts can now be aggregated into the overall marketing dashboard –not a one off.

CMOs Investment in Innovation Pays off During Recession
Marketers recognize that while they’re going to anticipate growth, innovation was required to develop new techniques and harness the communication of others. In particular, As companies must act more human like, we heard that some marketers were enabling the rank and file employee (and alumni) to tell the story for them –beyond corporate communications and brand advertising.

Aspirational: Some CMOs yearn for the CEO role.
Despite CMO tenure lenthgting to 34.7 months from a mere 25 months, we heard that some CMOs seek to transcend their go to market role. We heard from a closing panel that some CMOs had a strong penchant to assume the Chief Executive role within a corporation and were given advice to sit on aviary boards of non-profits, marketing boards, then board of directors of other companies, as a pragmatic path to the CEO office.

These high level trends should be taken into consideration by the Corporate Social Strategist, as they start to define their program for the 2011 trends for social business.