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Challenges Keeping Your CMO Awake at Night

Several pressing issues are dominating the agenda this year. The persisting economic uncertainty compounded by ongoing conflicts creates a volatile landscape for brands to navigate. Meanwhile, the rapid growth of AI adds new layers of complexity to marketing strategies and consumer interactions. Furthermore, talent management remains a significant challenge across the industry.

In the first quarter of this year, marketing teams faced hurdles that tested their resilience and adaptability. Here's our strategy for navigating the remainder of 2024.

Diverging Customer Perspectives
Last year, we witnessed several missteps that created a tense atmosphere in brand advertising, like Bud Light's Dylan Mulvaney controversy or Target's withdrawal of Pride Month merchandise. These incidents highlighted the increased polarization among customer bases and emphasized the severe repercussions of errors: Adidas suffered a 51% decline in trust and a $343 million operating loss due to mishandling a celebrity scandal. Gucci's stumble on social issues caused North American sales to plummet.

In a marketing environment where a single tweet or TikTok post can spread virally, positively, or negatively, a critical question arises: should brands discuss core issues that may carry political or cultural meaning? 

CMOs now must strike a delicate balance between appealing to diverse customer segments and avoiding alienating any particular group. 

Advice: As we move into the second half of 2024, there's a growing recognition that marketing strategies may need fine-tuning to tackle these challenges adequately. Brands must commit to continuous investment in long-term purpose initiatives and cohesive plans to ensure their actions resonate with their messaging. Consumers expect brands to engage with critical social issues, but authenticity in these engagements is vital.

A Shift in Retail Marketing
Once again, economic uncertainty and rising prices affect marketers' decision-making processes. Factors such as inflation, gas prices, and the reinstatement of student loan repayments further exacerbate these concerns.

Despite the National Retail Federation's optimistic forecast for holiday shopping in 2024, actual figures failed to meet the sales data recorded in 2022. To remain competitive, retailers are flooding the market with unparalleled promotional campaigns and email marketing as brands strive to lure consumers with deals-driven messaging.

Advice: A way out of a tight economic environment is to develop targeted marketing campaigns for budget-conscious consumers. This could involve creating messaging emphasizing the value, affordability, and cost-saving benefits of your brand's products or services. Your CMO and marketing team must tackle changing consumer preferences by identifying your market’s trends and patterns. For example, your brand could offer unique cost-saving experiences or enhance its loyalty programs. 

The Growth of AI
The rise of AI dominated the marketing landscape last year with remarkable innovations. Even though most marketers are excited regarding the possibilities of generative AI, skeptic voices also echo around brand safety concerns. 

This year, advertising tactics will continue moving from traditional paper and TV advertising towards a digital-focused strategy. This trajectory will gain momentum, especially with the ongoing advancement of AI efficiency tools.

Advice: AI can help your marketing team automate some tasks and processes. However, human judgment is crucial for reviewing results, identifying errors, and making ethical decisions. 

At eDesign, we employ machine learning to surprise and entertain online users. For instance, we introduced a unique “draw it yourself” product search feature to jazz up Hardie's website. Users can sketch the desired fruit or vegetable outline for their order, allowing the website to identify the corresponding product. Simply press and hold the space bar to experience it for yourself.

“Gamifying” aspects of a web page can create a captivating and unique user experience.

Managing Creative Talent
In the mid-2010s, Big Tech, led by firms like Amazon, Google, and Meta, aimed to replicate Apple’s design-driven success. This “design rush” permeated diverse sectors like banking and healthcare. Barclays, for instance, became the largest employer of design talent in the U.K. 

However, in recent years, we have witnessed a shift. Large corporations are reducing or eliminating design leadership roles and downsizing in-house design functions.  

Many brands that have previously opted to bring some marketing functions in-house are now grappling with efficiently organizing their talent pool and assembling the ideal team members. Continuous monitoring of media campaigns, essential for fast consumer response and adaptation, requires specialized skills, and companies increasingly recognize the value of outsourcing to external digital agencies, which specialize in providing superior service at a lower cost.

Advice: To alleviate the burden on your team and internal budget, consider outsourcing your marketing needs to our team. By hiring eDesign, you can trust that we'll contribute positively to your bottom line. Building and overseeing a creative team is challenging, mainly as technology evolves incessantly. People must continuously refresh their knowledge, explore new tools, and experiment with fresh advertising concepts.

Bridging the Gap Between Your Financial Goals and Marketing Strategy
Maintaining alignment between your CMO and top leadership is crucial for sustaining marketing investments. Data indicates that marketing teams and their CEOs often have diverging opinions on key performance indicators (KPIs) and even the primary marketing role of their brand. While CEOs prioritize top-line and bottom-line metrics, such as revenue and profit, marketers focus on brand awareness, impressions, purchase consideration, and click-through rates. This disconnect highlights the need for better alignment between marketing objectives and overall business goals. 

Advice: To cultivate more robust relationships with leadership, your CMO should participate in discussions on future cash flows and their underlying sources, bridging the divide between marketing strategies and broader business objectives.

Balancing Remote Work and Office Presence
In the wake of the pandemic disrupting traditional office routines, some brands struggle to find a work arrangement that suits employers and team members. There is a palpable shift in the job market, especially in the creative industry, with a rise in hybrid home-office arrangements. We think it’s vital to foster a team culture while acknowledging that some team members thrive in a remote setting while others prefer an office space's structure and social setting. 

Advice: Balancing remote work and office presence for all employees requires a thoughtful approach considering individual preferences, job roles, and company culture. 

At eDesign, we value the synergy of bouncing ideas off one another. As a creative agency, we cultivate a collaborative culture through regular meetings and brainstorming sessions, creating an environment where team members come together regardless of their physical location on any given day.

For advice on your website redesign or assistance with upcoming digital campaigns, simply email Our team of digital advertising specialists in New Jersey would love to learn about your project and explore your marketing objectives with you.

The Digital Agency Advantage: Supporting the Modern CMO
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