Gaps & holes in marketing teams impact business performance

86 Percent of Chief Marketers Report Missed Revenue and Customer Acquisition 

Goals Due to Unfilled Functional Leadership Positions and Lack of Expertise

Over half of marketing leaders surveyed worldwide concede they are struggling to effectively execute multi-channel campaigns on both a global and local level, reveals the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. 

The new CMO Council study, entitled Scaling the Value of the CMO, uncovers gaps, holes and deficiencies across key functional areas in the office of the CMO. As a result, an overwhelming 86 percent of senior marketers believe lack of leadership depth and capabilities has resulted in missed revenue, growth and customer acquisition opportunities.  

Underscoring the problem, a surprising one third of senior marketers surveyed by the CMO Council in early 2021 admit lack of resources, capabilities and effective leadership in key functional areas “consistently” impair performance of their team; over half concede this is an “intermittent” problem.

A large number of CMOs (43 percent) admit that it is “very difficult, time consuming and always challenging” to find experienced, proficient and knowledgeable functional leaders and direct reports; a further 40 percent acknowledge that it is “moderately difficult.”

“Most senior marketers say they are challenged by the time it takes to properly recruit and onboard senior functional leaders on their team,” notes Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, which is based in Silicon Valley. 

According to Neale-May, more than half of survey respondents say the process takes three to six months and another 15 percent indicate this can take more than six months. “There’s no doubt the office of the CMO could be quickly and effectively fortified with fractional or interim marketing leaders hired on-demand,” he adds.

To this end, the CMO Council is partnering with Chief Outsiders to offer its members on-demand outsourcing of senior marketing talent on a contract or interim basis. The CMO Council has 16,000 members in 10,000 companies across more than 110 countries worldwide. Members collectively control nearly $1 trillion of annual marketing spend. Chief Outsiders manages a large, fractional resource group of CMOs with expertise across industries, functional areas and geographies. (  

Findings from the latest CMO Council survey, reveal an overwhelming 93 percent of chief marketers say they have had a “very positive, quite good or favorable” experience using interim marketing leaders. Not one reported a “poor” relationship and only five percent stated it was inconsistent. 

While respondents say sourcing permanent employee talent is complex and time-consuming, only about a third of chief marketers have retained experienced contractors or part time staff at the director and above level. Despite leadership gaps and holes, a surprising 41 percent of chief marketers report they have not used contractors, while 25 percent say they are assessing this option or plan to do so in 2021.

Scaling the Value of the CMO research highlighted the five main benefits of using fractional or interim marketing leaders. This included:

  • Fast ramp up and time-to-performance
  • Proven performers and doers
  • Range of competencies and capabilities
  • Domain expertise or knowledge
  • Added value thinking and leadership depth

“Clearly, CMOs are challenged to fill critical leadership roles, particularly when it comes to using digital marketing technology and actionable data to improve go-to-market strategy, customer targeting, conversion, and ongoing engagement,” notes Art Saxby, CEO, co-founder and principal of Chief Outsiders. “It is gratifying to see that over 90 percent of those surveyed said they had realized a very positive or favorable experience using interim marketing leaders in their enterprise.”

Top five areas where chief marketing officers see gaps, holes and deficiencies in their marketing leadership structures:

  • Customer journey, acquisition and conversion
  • Segmentation and personalized messaging at scale
  • Actioning on customer data insight
  • Demand generation and pipeline
  • Campaign execution and measurement

The report is based off of a survey conducted in Q1 2021 of 150 senior marketing executives. A complimentary report is available for download at: