The enemy within enterprise marketing

June 2022
Kevin Hewitt
Read time:
5 minutes
The enemy within enterprise marketing


Big brand marketers need talent, culture and tech to stay ahead of the more nimble challengers

The future of digital marketing, they say, belongs to small, agile challengers rather than large, yet slow-moving, incumbents. Deloitte's recent CMO Survey data underlines the point.

Asked to rate their digital marketing transformation, nearly 20% of mid-sized businesses (with $100-499 million revenue) and over 10% of the smallest businesses (less than $10 million) felt their digital transformations were Established or Institutionalised. No large businesses (greater than $10 billion) felt that way.

The challenge facing the biggest brands

Of course, incumbent, enterprise-scale businesses enjoy far greater resources, brand awareness and presence in the marketplace than would-be disrupters.

Legacy processes

But the legacy of dominance can be lethargy and inertia. Big firms are often slow to see and slow to change. They are likely to have an established, pre-digital marketing culture that is focused on past experience, gut feel and a product-based view of the world, rather than being data-driven, using iterative experimentation and having a focus on the customer.

Siloed teams

Typically, teams operate in siloes with separate data and a non-integrated mix of legacy systems and point solutions. The 2022 CMO Survey found that just 39% of businesses had effectively integrated customer data from multiple departments, while only one in four had consolidated data from all customer touchpoints. 

Tighter budgets

Enterprise marketing teams are also suffering from budget constraints. Marketing budgets across all businesses grew by 10.3% in the prior 12 months and are expected to increase by 13.6% in the next 12. But the $10bn+ segment experienced a marginal decline (-0.1%) in the previous year and expect an increase of only 1.7% in the 12 months to come.

Enterprise marketers will need to be ever more focused on optimising their ads in a dynamic landscape to ensure maximum ROI from tighter budgets.

Capturing marketing insights and talent in-house

As well as managing their day-to-day work through the above challenges, enterprise marketers are trying to maintain and build their own digital skills.

It's not just a question of finding the time and money (across the board, marketing training budgets have fallen by nearly a third, from a pre-Covid high of 5.8% down to just 4.1%). In organisations that are less transformed, digital marketing trends to be carried out by retained media agencies and other external partners. That means the agencies drive the agenda and retain the IP and capability, while brands become passive recipients, unable to build their in-house insights or skills.

Even worse, enterprise businesses are prioritising the right operating model over having the right talent. While 42% of all businesses rank having the right talent as the most important priority, this is only 11% for the largest enterprises (and 52% to 58% for mid-sized businesses). By contrast, a third of enterprises say that the right operating model is their top priority.

That may be because enterprises already rate their current digital marketing knowledge and skills very highly. Over 93% of $10bn+businesses say their digital marketing skills are at or above industry average. Six out of ten say they are above average.

Yet, as we've seen, smaller businesses are generally more advanced in their digital journeys. Enterprise-scale businesses may be underestimating the skills gap against their smaller competitors.

Closing the skills gap – recruiting and retaining digital change-makers

Digital transformation requires top-down strategy and bottom-up advocacy.

Successful, digital-first businesses need data-savvy, digitally hungry change-makers in their marketing departments. And they need visionary leaders – a CEO or CMO prepared to invest in the culture and technology to support them.

The challenge is that enterprises are vulnerable to losing the very staff they most need because of the Great Resignation. At the same time, they lack the culture that will entice high-quality replacements.

Start-ups are booming, with record numbers of new businesses being set up during the Covid period in the US and the UK. In today's talent crunch, agile start-ups promise greater autonomy, purpose-driven cultures and the opportunity to master the latest and greatest technology stacks.  

So how can enterprise marketing leaders compete? How can they develop their teams' digital and data skills and accelerate their digital transformations?

#1 Hire for attitude, train for skill – 

Skills date quickly in the digital world. You want to hire people who are constantly driven to learn new ones. So, ensure that the job package you advertise clearly includes training schemes and budgets.

#2 Create a learning culture – 

Actively seek approaches and models to upskill your staff. For example, establish joint agency/internal teams so your people can learn from their agency counterparts. Also, encourage a test-and-learn mentality, where the most important question at the end of any project is "What would we do better next time?"

#3 Empower internal brand and marketing teams for true data democratisation – 

Linked to the above, take back control of marketing from your agencies and bring all the data in-house. You should embed strategic thinking within your organisation and focus your agencies on specialist tactical executions in new areas while in-house teams are skilling up.

#4 Create a 'single source of truth' – 

Everyone should be working from the same data set to allow cross-team insights. Imagine social media teams having access to best performing organic keywords and ad copy to fuel more informed campaigns that consumers want and are searching for. Data sharing should be encouraged on the basis that collective success trumps individual glory. Rethinking your approach to KPIs is also important here – are you using best-practice metrics and benchmarking accordingly?

#5 Give staff the tools and tech to do their jobs effectively – 

Automate tedious manual activities, so your top talent can focus on insights, gaps, and optimisation opportunities to stay competitive and ahead of the digital curve. This new way of working will help the team continually achieve incremental gains for the brand's marketing performance and their own development, leading to a greater chance of retention.

It's time to rebuild

Clearly, enterprise marketing is not doomed. Indeed, any enterprise that can combine digital smarts and agility with its existing market muscle could become all but unassailable. The difficulty is that, in many cases, the size of the challenge is so great, the current culture so entrenched, and the examples of successful transformation so scarce that, by the time the business realises it's on a burning platform, it will feel too late.

No one can predict what the successful businesses of the future will look like. However, it's a safe bet they will have built a flexible, customer-focused and data-driven culture underpinned by great talent and the tools to empower them.

10th Man works with some of the world's biggest brands to provide deep and unbiased insight into marketing performance and organisational decision-making. If you'd like to discuss how we can help develop greater understanding of a more dynamic marketing landscape, contact us here or email us at

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