In the first of a new series of sur­veys into the role of chief mar­ket­ing offi­cers (CMOs) in South Africa, VML South Africa has dis­cov­ered that 40% of those sur­veyed are respon­si­ble for annu­al bud­gets in excess of R50 mil­lion.

Jarred Cinman, CEO of VML South Africa said, “We talked to the mar­ket­ing leads of some of South Africa’s largest com­pa­nies. The scale of their bud­gets is indica­tive of the val­ue mar­ket­ing brings to organ­i­sa­tions and brands. It also shows how mar­keters have evolved from man­ag­ing the 3 Ps to doing so much more. Today, they’re respon­si­ble for increas­ing sales, improv­ing omni-chan­nel cus­tomer expe­ri­ences, and rein­vent­ing the cus­tomer rela­tion­ship through dig­i­tal inno­va­tion.”

This is the first in what will become a quar­ter­ly sur­vey of the state of mar­ket­ing in South Africa. At this ear­ly stage VML con­sid­ers the sur­vey a dip­stick, but as it grows it will become the defin­i­tive research into the role of South African CMOs across all sec­tors.

One of the most inter­est­ing find­ings shows that 40% of respon­dents are spend­ing the largest por­tion of their bud­get on dig­i­tal and social media projects. Not sur­pris­ing is the fact that 40% of respon­dents report gain­ing their great­est return on invest­ment (ROI) from dig­i­tal and social projects too. However, only 13% con­tin­ue to see returns from tra­di­tion­al chan­nels like print and broad­cast media and PR.  It will be inter­est­ing to mon­i­tor how this changes over time.

In spite of the major­i­ty of respon­dents say­ing that they spend the most, and gain the great­est returns from dig­i­tal chan­nels, “data ana­lyt­ics” receives the least ROI. A third (33%) of respon­dents said their pri­ma­ry focus for this year is to make bet­ter use of exist­ing data. All respon­dents said they would be invest­ing in train­ing their teams in data analy­sis and relat­ed dig­i­tal skills.

Some mar­keters said they had too much data to dis­til. It seems clear that get­ting to grips with the huge amount of data now avail­able to mar­keters is going to be where the biggest advan­tage lies for the can­ni­est of South Africa’s mar­ket­ing lead­ers.

Aside from data, the oth­er two chal­lenges respon­dents face are increased com­pe­ti­tion and con­sumer intol­er­ance to adver­tis­ing (each of these rat­ed equal­ly with data at 20%). This means they have to work hard­er to find new ways to engage with con­sumers, hence more than a quar­ter said their pri­ma­ry focus would be on cre­at­ing cus­tomer expe­ri­ences.

All respon­dents are using three or more agen­cies to sup­port their mar­ket­ing efforts, with a third of them using more than five exter­nal agen­cies. Is this an indi­ca­tion that mar­keters still feel they need spe­cial­ists for each dis­ci­pline? Are these ros­ters shrink­ing or grow­ing? Future sur­veys will look into these top­ics.

We’ll be issu­ing our sec­ond round of research soon,” said Cinman. “We have dif­fer­ent ques­tions this time to broad­en the scope of our research as part of our mis­sion to grow it into a defin­i­tive and reg­u­lar mea­sure of South Africa’s mar­ket­ing indus­try. We feel sure that our local mar­keters will ben­e­fit from know­ing where they stand in rela­tion to their fel­low mar­keters.”