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The Antidote to Marketing Complexity for B2B CMOs

Updated: Dec 4, 2019

Enterprise CMOs need to spend less time on technology and more time on good old fashioned thinking. And here’s why...

One of the primary issues facing B2B CMOs today is complexity. Specifically, the complexity of marketing today.

Complexity (sometimes defined as the sheer volume of available choices) causes problems for marketing leaders because it makes decision-making harder. And when you’re the one the CEO and CFO is counting on to drive growth, you need to be able to rely on your ability to make decisions without delay or second-guessing.

Today’s CMO needs a framework that simplifies decision making.

What's the Antidote to Complexity in B2B Marketing?

“The antidote [to complexity] is a model of seeing, thinking and processing the world around you that gives you a framework for simplified decision-making. Systems thinking does that.” [4]
— Donella Meadows, Thinking in Systems: A Primer, 1990.

The general approach in marketing departments in recent years has been to look around (“What is everyone else doing?”) and look ahead (“What should we be doing next?”). It’s understandable, because it’s driven by the constant urge to keep pace with rapid change.

But look at where this kind of frenetic attention has gotten marketers. Today:

  • 80% of CEOs still “don’t trust” their CMO,

  • CMO turnover is the highest in the C-suite, and

  • CMOs struggle to clearly define their role and how they will deliver what’s expected of them.

For the CMO, complexity has increased, while problems remain. So, if you’re not getting the answers you need by looking around and ahead, then it might be to your advantage to take a pause and look back. Not too far back, just to the era when business leaders weren’t distracted by the allure of thousands of apps and platforms promising to solve every problem under the sun. Back when leaders relied on thinking (not technology) to look at and solve complexity in their business.

One excellent framework that emerged in the 1970s and enjoyed some resurgence in the 1990s is systems thinking.

Systems thinking is under-applied in business. Few people in business have studied it, and even fewer routinely practice it, compared to environmental, political, social and economic arenas where it’s commonly used.

However, in operations like marketing that have become increasingly complex, distributed and interconnected, a systems approach to problem solving is an excellent way to reduce confusion and gain the simplicity that the marketing leader needs in order to make decisions.

While it’s en vogue to look at outside forces when trying to problem-solve, systems thinking promotes the opposite. It turns your attention inward… to look at how you operate. It focusses you on your existing marketing operation, its behaviors, its elements, connections, flows of information and activity.

This is where you find the path to solutions. Because one of the tenants of systems thinking is, “differently designed systems could produce entirely different results to the same outside forces.”

In other words, “The way you operate is causing its own behavior.”

This can be a lightbulb moment for CMOs because it means that so many results (or lack thereof) are largely predetermined by the design and operation of the system.

Take a Systems Approach to Creating Clear and Consistent Content

As a B2B agency, Mowry & Savage delivers content for lead generation and nurturing to help CMOs drive growth. But we do it using an approach that’s grounded in systems thinking.

If you’re interested in learning more, book a 30-minute call with Pete Savage, Client Services Director at Mowry & Savage. On this no-obligation call, we’ll talk about your biggest obstacles to growth as you see them, and we’ll introduce you to our content system for bankable growth.