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As marketers focus on creative development and campaign execution, they often overlook the operational aspects of their go-to-market processes, resulting in the inefficient delivery of marketing materials to intended audiences and, ultimately, weaker frontline performance, according to a study by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council.

There's significant opportunity for marketing to improve the go-to-market process: 80% of surveyed marketing executives say their organizations are not efficient enough in go-to-market capabilities and efficiencies relative to provisioning all the elements of the demand chain.

Demand chain provisioning refers to the timely delivery of marketing and merchandising materials, as well as the processing of customer requests for sales literature and samples via the Web, call centers, and email channels, according to the survey.

Below, other findings from the study Competitive Gain in the Demand Chain by the CMO Council.

Value of Demand Chain Provisioning

Marketing execs agree there is value in demand chain provisioning, citing its impact on key business outcomes:

  • Business competitiveness and performance: 38%
  • Sustaining sales and channel operations:31%

However, fewer marketing execs are taking action:

  • 25% are ensuring sales support materials and resources are delivered on-demand, which likely improves sell-through and customer conversion. 
  • 15% are taking steps to audit and assess marketing supply chain effectiveness.

Meanwhile, 56% of marketing execs say they are focused on campaign design, development, and execution, whereas 16% are concerned with production, warehousing, and inventory management or delivery—all critical elements in an effective demand chain.

Just 2% of marketing execs are now looking to optimize the actual delivery, fulfillment, and distribution of their marketing materials.

"Marketing tends to be preoccupied with staying on track with individual tactical executions or traditional marketing fundamentals like lead generation, campaign execution and content or creative development," said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council. "However, today's demand chain requires a new mix of digital, direct, and retail distribution, fulfillment, measurement, and tracking capabilities to maximize customer contact, conversion and interaction."

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Uncertainty in the Demand Chain

One obstacle to driving demand chain performance is in the apparent lack of consensus on marketing's role in the process. Some marketing execs say that role is in executing multi-channel communications programs; others cite lead qualification and conversion, while others point to appropriate selling content. The top response, cited by 18% of marketing execs, is specifying and leading the development of the right products and services for the market.

Marketing execs cite the following top five challenges to driving demand chain performance in the next year:

  1. Adequate budget or resources: 43%
  2. Determining where and how to impact the business: 42%
  3. Adding new skills and talent: 39%
  4. Tracking results and outcomes from contributions: 37%
  5. Understanding all areas of expense and value creation: 25%

As marketing execs point to insufficient human resources and internal expertise as a key factor inhibiting success in the demand chain, 21% say they could improve in these areas by using outsourced providers.

Improvements Needed

Nearly six in ten marketing execs (59%) say they need to introduce more disciplined marketing execution systems to improve their existing marketing processes.

For example, only 7% ask vendors bid on an entire segment of the demand chain, and 35% are leveraging from 3 to 10 vendors for the go-to-market process, resulting in multiple RFPs and different points throughout the contract cycle.

About the data: The CMO Council study Competitive Gain in the Demand Chain, sponsored by Archway Marketing Services, is based on an online survey of 260 marketing executives from 14 brands, including Hershey, Subway, Allergan, Advance Auto Parts, MGM Resorts, Oracle, and T Rowe Price, conducted from September to November, 2010.

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