Marketers' ability to effectively leverage social media, mobile and analytics is a microcosm (albeit a significant one) of the broader issue of how a company develops marketing knowledge and capabilities.

The Duke CMO survey included an interesting question about companies marketing knowledge investments and the expected percentage change in the next 12 months. The table below itemizes the 4 areas of investment and the changes over the past 3 years.

Change next 12 months

Change since '14

Developing knowledge about how to do marketing



Marketing research and intelligence



Marketing training



Marketing consulting services



It is telling that marketers appear to be moving away from traditional knowledge investments (MRA, training, consulting) and instead are beginning to prioritize how they actually do marketing.

As companies conceptualize how they do marketing, they need to do so across a number of different dimensions and levels. A potential hierarchy of marketing knowledge could include the following:

  • 1.General understanding of terminology and mechanics involved with various marketing practices;
  • 2.Generic principles about what drives effectiveness;
  • 3.Brand-specific recommendations and optimization;
  • 4.Leverage and combine the 2nd and 3rd levels to develop a playbook of quantified rules-of-thumb that guide ongoing decision-making processes.

While it's an oft-repeated cliché, companies need to establish a learning culture. It's not enough to teach the tool or technology de jour, they need to instill formal processes for marketing sensing so that they continually identify and integrate new approaches, tools, etc. into their training protocols. Too often companies rely on a static approach to training and marketing content.

Finally, while the CMO Survey questions are interesting, they do suggest a somewhat artificial distinction between the respective categories. In the future, progressive companies will not look at the elements of "marketing knowledge investment" as mutually exclusive. Instead, they will combine and co-mingle them to create customized capability development programs for their work force (broadly defined). For example, a portion of their marketing research and intelligence budget will be devoted to developing proprietary knowledge about how to do marketing for their categories and brands. And marketing training and/or marketing consulting services can be then leveraged to instill those principles and practices into their workforces.

And by workforces broadly defined, I'm not just referring to marketing and analytics professionals. The more companies can train and empower key members of their core business teams (e.g., management, finance, product development, etc.) the more the entire team will be aligned and moving in the same direction. This could also extend to key external partners, such as agencies, media companies, data providers, analytic suppliers, etc.

Please check back later this week when I'll be publishing "Killer Idea #2" - and for additional background on "Navigating Unchartered Waters" please ensure you peruse our previous Chalkboard content!