What a CMO says on a Sunday is sometimes the most telling

David Halter
By David Halter | 2 July 2024
David Halter.

(This article forms part of the AdNews mid-year update on the state of the market in Australia

Download the report HERE)

Most CMOs I know will open the laptop on a Sunday. Sometimes to get ahead on emails, but most of the time it’s to find the headspace for their priorities.

Their diaries are crystal clear. Their Teams notifications aren’t pinging at a rapid rate. Their computers are calm.

So, over the last few weeks, I’ve sent a text to a few CMO friends at around 4PM on a Sunday and asked them a simple question: “What is your number one priority between now and Christmas?”

Now after they reply with “leave me alone, it’s Sunday afternoon, get a life”, they then go on to answer the question with kindness.

Now, you may be thinking that any agency partner worth their weight should know the answer to that question. However, it’s the two words ‘number one’ that are key.

Some people with ‘Chief’ in their title fall victim to the ‘let’s do everything all at once’ trap. But as we all know, prioritization is the ‘name of the Chief game’ and often the key to success, especially as the economic, social, and geopolitical issues continue to play mind games with business confidence. So, I've grouped the Sunday night text chats into six big themes and kept all the brands and people anonymous for obvious reasons.

“Maintaining the momentum on brand building, when competitors are ramping up promotions”

EOFY has come even earlier this year, and inboxes aren’t short of offers and promotions. So, for those who have been in brand-building season, maintain the momentum and hold the line if you can because the discount drug is hard to put down.

“I’m working through a bunch of CVs for some open roles in our internal agency”

With more and more CMOs opting to in-house certain parts of their communications experience, it obviously has efficiency benefits. But the time taken to staff and manage another group of people adds to the already stacked workload.

“I’m thinking about where we will find growth as business confidence is slowing”

For B2B brands, the market is tougher than ever. Australian business insolvency levels are at record highs, and as confidence continues to slide, it’s going to be about pointing the acquisition levers at the right sections of the market. Precision will pay.

“The next few weeks I’m looking at my team structure”

Capability, culture, and competency. All important considerations when it comes to one of the highest cost bases, the people. As unemployment now has a four in front of it, it’s no secret that marketing and agency headcount is constantly under review.

“We need to keep our customer acquisition costs as low as possible”

Effective and efficient media have always been a top priority for CMOs, but now it’s clearly at the top of the to-do list. As owned channels have become more connected, sophisticated (and in some cases monetized), the next half belongs to the brand owners who can orchestrate owned and paid seamlessly to drive down that dreaded cost per sale.

“Ensuring we are responsive and respectful to our customers' financial situation is a priority”

Times are tough for many, and for other groups, it’s still the spending season. The smart marketers are spending their Sundays working out who needs a discount and who doesn’t in order to protect margin whilst boosting sales.

CMOs are navigating a complex landscape. The themes highlight a need for precision, efficiency, and empathy. As economic challenges persist, these insights offer a roadmap for not just surviving but making gains in the downhill run to Christmas.

David Halter, Dentsu Creative, Chief Strategy Officer

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