See What ‘Buyers’ Think…


Pub. Note: As part of MARKETING’s new initiative to gain greater involvement of corporate chief marketing officers in Washington State with our marcomm-vendor community, half of the Marcomm Creative Survey conducted online over the past two months by GMA Research was devoted to questions directed to CMOs.

By Don Morgan

Like the vendor portion of the Creative Survey we recently conducted, responses in the CMO track both confirmed some suspicions and provided some unexpected insights—such as the splits on digital-advertising spend and interest in hiring an agency of record.

Following are the responses to the multiple-choice and open-end questions by the 27 CMOs (the buyers of vendor services) who participated in the survey:

A solid 40% of respondents say they never hired an agency of record

Classification: Nearly three-quarters (71.4%) of the respondents were from small companies (fewer than 250 employees), with the balance split evenly at more than 14% between companies with fewer/more than 1,000 employees.

Percent of budget spend on digital vs. traditional advertising: The More Than Half and Less Than Half choices balanced each other out at 37.5% each, as did About Equally on Each and Zero/None at 12.5% each.

Satisfaction with pool of creative agencies available to you in the Puget Sound region: Somewhat Satisfied led with 46.7%, followed by 33.3% saying Very Satisfied and 20%, Not Satisfied At All.

Last time you hired an agency of record: A solid 40% said Never, and Over 5 Years Ago followed at 26.7%. In The Past 2 Years was 20% and 2 to 5 Years Ago was 13.3%.

Importance of an agency being fully staffed—rather than virtual—when choosing an agency: Not Important At All led, with 43.8% and Very Important trailed at 18.8%, with Somewhat Important in the middle, at 37.5%.

Amount of work you do in-house vs. with an outside agency: Most All Of It was the clear leader at 61.5%, followed by About Half and Very Little at more than 15% each, and None Of It at nearly 8%.

Difficulty in finding and retaining marketing/creative staff: Not Difficult At All led with more than 58% and Somewhat Difficult followed at 41.7. Very Difficult got the survey’s only 0%.

Compensation: Like the vendor responses, Project Basis was the runaway leader, in this case at 84.6%, followed by an even split between Retainer and Commission on Media Placed, at just under 8% each.

How Creative Is Valued: Among the several options, there were three clear favorites in how CMOs value creative work: Understands Our Brand, Affordable and Award-Winning—in that order.

If creative messages engage on an emotional level, explain how to do that with digital advertising:

“By creating engaging content”

“Incorporating a variety of images, video and messaging. We vary the executions and content to include community involvement, product and brand advertising, promotions, PR, etc. The combination of these approaches has been working, as our engagement rates are incredible high.”

“Under the umbrella of a brand brief.”

“Messaging and guiding the consumer.”

“Thru social community-building.”

“Visuals and critical word choices.”

“Listening to the consumer and responding to what you hear. Design with the customer need/want/interest in mind.”

Don Morgan is the principal of GMA Research, based in Bellevue, which has been conducting surveys in the Puget Sound area and nationally for nearly 50 years. GMA clients include leading brands in the transportation, retail, technology, tourism, health care, banking and restaurant industries. You can contact him at

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