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January 23, 2015
How Much Time is Needed to Be Effective?
 
"What have you done for me lately?"

Though the question is rarely verbalized, the marketing team or agency constantly feels pressure from the C-Suite and other departments when it comes to producing quantifiable results. Marketing professionals know well enough that it takes time for consumers to see a message, understand a message, weigh it against alternatives, consider switching costs (if any), and then make a decision.

The process sounds much easier than it actually is. Brands and agencies face competing with dozens of other competitors, and join that with all the hundreds of other messages a consumer sees. It is a very difficult job to garner and influence a certain consumer.

One would imagine, then, that if a campaign is being implemented for the first time, the marketing folks would be graced with the time to see it bloom into fruition.

Not so fast, my friend.

The average CMO tenure in the U.S. has been around 24 months. We recently read an article about best practices from some of the top marketers in the world, and one of the professionals stated that one of the best pieces of advice was to stick around in one place as long as possible, because it takes two to three years to even "have an impact on the brand's performance."

If it takes two to three years to even impact a brand's performance, whether it's in a negative or positive way, how can the mere 24-month average CMO tenure even be evaluated? It is true that the business world is moving at a pace faster than ever before, but shouldn't that mean that important decisions, like a brand's marketing image, take a little more time to consider — unless it is truly just an awful fit?

We can acknowledge that if a CMO and an agency have strategic or creative differences, it makes all the sense in the world to sever ties. But if the results of a new campaign don't immediately make significant impact, the CMO or agency shouldn't start packing up their bags. That's like firing a slugger who was hired to hit home runs every time he's up. Sure, he'll knock dozens out of the park, but you better believe he's going to strike out a few times, too. If he's striking out early in the season, firing him before the mid-season break could prove to be an unwise move.

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Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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