2022 External Planning Considerations for CMOs

Many marketing leaders focus internally when embarking on a planning process for their new fiscal year.  But if you don’t spend some time reflecting on what is happening outside the four virtual walls of your company, you risk missing key threats and opportunities that could make a dramatic impact on your plan.

When I run marketing planning workshops, I recommend that marketers start with an external scan, which is what inspired this list of planning considerations that every CMO should include in their marketing planning process for 2022.

I’m sure I missed some, feel free to add what I missed in the comments.

The only certainty is uncertainty

If there is only one point you take away from this list, make sure it is this one.  The last couple years have demonstrated to all of us how unpredictable the world can be in the midst of a global pandemic.  And with caseload hotspots and new variants of the virus, it is unclear when and if we will return to “normal”. With that in mind, it is important for marketers to build agility into their plans. But don’t confuse agility with “thrash” – the most successful marketing leaders will be able to adjust their plans and organizations while maintaining a strategic heading.

The digital shift accelerates


There was a huge flight to digital in 2020 when CMOs had to figure out how to replace their physical world marketing activities. And while there is a great deal of excitement about “getting back” to some of the traditional marketing approaches (like physical events, direct mail, OOH, etc.), we should all plan on a permanent and accelerating shift to digital marketing.  Think of 2020 as a crash course in digital for all of those marketers who had not yet fully embraced interactive media. In 2022, all those new digital mavens are planning to more deeply embrace their new found skills. As a result, we will continue to see more and more competition for digital media, which will require innovative new approaches to maintain the same kind of cost per outcome that we expected pre-pandemic.

Virtual and hybrid events are here for the long term


Like the permanent shift we are seeing in digital, I believe that the events business is forever changed. In the short term, we will continue to see the need for digital and hybrid options as variants emerge and lockdowns occur. But the bigger change is the realization that virtual and hybrid events can be really effective. Adding virtual options will expand your target audience to include those people who would not attend if they had to travel because of inconvenience, cost, or schedule. Every marketing team should start to develop standards for hybrid (at a minimum) events, and build virtual and hybrid event capabilities into their organizations. CMOs should explore virtual event platforms as part of their marketing tech stack, including companies like Hopin and new entrants like SURREAL events.

Third-party cookie tracking limitations


There has been a lot written about the changes in third-party cookie tracking based on new functionality in iOS and Chrome, but not enough attention has been paid to what we are all going to do about it as marketers.  The challenges for digital marketers based on these changes include limitations on profile building based on third-party data, and limits on retargeting, a strategy that is used to pull anonymous visitors back to your website.

I appreciate the benefits of increased privacy protection as a consumer, and I also think of this change as an interesting marketing challenge.  These changes should have us all thinking about how we create strong – and privacy safe – data strategies for our customers. And we should think about how we create compelling reasons for our prospects and customers to come back to our digital properties without the prompt from an ad.  That means that we need to create great content and communities that encourage our customers to engage with our brand over and over.

The great resignation


Based on the trends we are seeing in the market, marketing leaders should plan on historically high voluntary turnover rates. Marketing leaders should plan on budgeting for more benefits, higher salaries, and increased salary costs, and should also be prepared for the likely scenario where they will see higher than typical turnover. That means that core processes need better documentation and systems need to be developed to protect from an over-reliance on institutional knowledge that may be more fragile than you imagined.

Virtual workforces


Most marketing executives have not fully internalized the massive impact that we will see from virtual workforces. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen an increase in the amount of telecommuting, but the real impact is coming from the changing hiring patterns. In my company, we used to hire people who were willing to commute to downtown Boston.  Like many companies, we saw the advantage of hiring location-independent employees, and as a result, our most recent hires are spread across the country. As an employer, we need to think about virtual collaboration. And as marketers, we need to realize that our prospects are increasingly difficult to target by geography. Organizing seminars in cities where our customers and prospects are headquartered is no longer a solid strategy. We even need to think about time zone considerations when we plan webinars and other real-time events as our prospects may work across many time zones.

There are some real practical issues that need to be considered based on this change. For example, sending direct mail is difficult if your prospects don’t work in an office. Marketers should consider platforms like Sendoso and Alyce that allow their prospects to receive physical mailings without disclosing their home addresses to your company.

Supply chain uncertainties


Many of the factors listed above have contributed to challenges in global supply chains. And while the impact is most severe on companies that sell physical goods, marketers also rely on the supply chain for everything from promotional goods, to computers, to event production materials. That means that marketers need to be more rigorous about their planning to make sure that they have the lead time to receive physical goods required for their campaigns.

Inflation and financial uncertainty


Limited supply of products, combined with increased wage costs to attract employees is driving inflation across the globe. Marketers should expect that prices will continue to increase for products and services and they will benefit from securing contracts with suppliers as early as practical

Increased expectations for Financial accountability and operational rigor across marketing


If this list isn’t challenging enough, CMOs also have to grapple with the increased expectations for financial and operational discipline that are being placed on marketing organizations. CMOs should be prepared to describe the impact of their marketing efforts in business terms, and have a clear marketing ROI to track for their activities.

Digitization of marketing leadership


Marketing leaders should also expect to see increased systemization and digitization of the marketing leadership process.  Given the requirement for agile marketing, combined with the need to optimize plans to deliver on key business objectives, marketing leaders should plan to deploy marketing performance management platforms like Planful that automate marketing planning, optimization, and performance reporting.

Cover Photo by Matt Reiter on Unsplash

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