Skip to content

6 Solutions to the Biggest Challenges Facing CMOs in 2020

6 Solutions to the Biggest Challenges Facing CMOs in 2020

CMOs already face multiple challenges that are unique to their position, and with the incredible  twists and turns we’ve all been experiencing this year,CMOs have been thrust into a totally new world—one where the old marketing rules no longer apply. 

In the midst of a global pandemic, all of us are turning to social media and digital platforms to connect and engage with friends, family, and brands alike. In order to succeed, CMOs will need the resilience and flexibility to confront some of the unique marketing challenges they’re facing in 2020. 

We’ll explore six of those challenges, as well as potential solutions.

A CMO’s work is often difficult to measure qualitatively, so it can be hard to justify expenses and resources to other members of the C-suite.

Enter market research methods. 

While qualitative research alone lacks the robustness of a data-driven argument, combining qualitative research—focus groups and customer interviews, for example—and quantitative research methods can prove the efficacy of any marketing campaign. 

Clever survey design and analysis is one quantitative method to put into practice to support your qualitative efforts. Polls, too, provide data that can add to the information gleaned from personal interviews and form a solid, fact-based argument. 

With this  two-pronged approach, you can ensure your data will be understood and appreciated by everyone.

More intangible, user-centered information will always be valuable, but it only tells part of the story. Never underestimate the power of a good story, and don’t forget to focus on the big picture. Think of your company’s mission and goals, and try to align with them. If your team shares the same goals as your C-suite, you can more easily communicate your needs.


  • Make a straightforward case for your marketing needs, with organizational strategy always in mind
  • Combine qualitative and quantitative research methods to glean the best data to present
  • Focus on the big picture and your story

CMOs need to be able to pivot quickly, due to how fast the landscape can change, and that’s challenging in large organizations. Especially during COVID-19.

During COVID-19, digital marketing has become even more important. Everyone is online and engaging, especially with brands. More resources are going toward social and mobile marketing efforts, since that’s where the audience is. It can’t be overstated: now is the time to work on your online presence and cultivate a brand that is sincere and transparent. Audiences are looking for genuine connection.

Overwhelmingly, it pays to reach out to users in tailored ways to provide a customized experience. You can pivot by recognizing the monumental societal shift happening and respond with honesty and empathy. As a society, we’re navigating the pandemic with uncertainty, but some trends are apparent. Stay on top of the trends but work within the guidelines of your particular organizational strategy.

Remember that we are now looking at what a post-COVID landscape will look like.


  • Tailor your messaging to a specific audience, on a particular platform
  • Hone your digital marketing skills to engage your audience on social media
  • Aim for transparency

If the product/service is not doing well, it’s often attributed to marketing, but if it is, then it’s often attributed to sales.

CMOs face the unique challenge of misattribution of successes and failures. 

One way of combating this is to make sure to use all of your collective communication skills to translate marketing efforts into tangible results. Data-driven research is one way of showing clearly that marketing translates to revenue. Utilizing the research methods mentioned above, before and after a campaign, can help demonstrate that your  marketing team is mission-critical .

It also pays to think of marketing as an investment, rather than an expense. By investing in the organization’s future, you’re fostering growth. Being future-thinking will help you align with your C-suite’s goals.


  • Clearly communicate marketing efforts and value 
  • Translate marketing into tangible results
  • Make the case for marketing as an investment in your organization’s future

CMOs have many expectations placed on them, but those expectations are often unclear or uncommunicated.

It’s true that CMOs often operate within a black box. By communicating the value of marketing efforts upfront, you can help set the C-suite’s expectations. Show evidence of past campaigns that have been successful. Compare your organization’s mission to your marketing projections. The more of a role you play in setting expectations, the better.

By helping to define the marketing forecast, you’ll instill confidence in the C-suite that you are valuable and knowledgeable. Most importantly, they’ll know what to expect from you in the future.


  • Communicate value upfront to help set expectations
  • Show evidence of other successful campaigns
  • Use your communications skills

Often they have a more amorphous job description than other C-suite executives, which leads to all the above issues.

With a hard-to-pin-down job description, CMOs are nothing if not dynamic. Learn to lean on the expertise of other marketing professionals in the field to get a sense of where the ship is being steered. Remember, especially now, we’re in this together. Think of 2020 as a collaborative moment and opportunity for connection.

Link up with associations and attend virtual conferences to pool resources and share solutions with other professionals.


  • Stay abreast of marketing trends and where the field is going
  • Learn from others in the marketing field
  • Make the most of virtual conferences and meetups

They have to manage changing technology.

It’s important to design your campaigns expecting change to occur—but at the same time, you’ve always got to remember your organization’s mission. 

Platforms and technology will shift. Practicing social listening can help you assess where your organization stands in the social media climate. To do this, follow your organization’s name on social media and see what people are saying. Follow hashtags for relevant content. Review your analytics. There are lots of ways to see which platforms are currently doing well and with which demographics.

Overall, keep your strategy in mind to help you navigate the changing landscape. Be open and flexible, and never shy away from repurposing your content.


  • Practice social listening
  • Follow hashtags
  • Review your analytics

Looking ahead

With no end to our changing landscape, now is the time for CMOs to be nimble in adapting to new demands of digital marketing.


She is the founder & CEO of Zen Media. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by Forbes, Businessweek, and Inc have all recognized her as one of the Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in the field of marketing. Shama has built a global audience and is known for helping brands succeed in the digital age. She is a bestselling author, an international keynote speaker, and has been named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Marketing for four years in a row. Learn More


What's your moment?
Daily videos to ignite your momentum

Receive daily videos with strategies, best practices, and litmus tests for discovering and igniting your moment.


Receive all of this for FREE! Get actionable ideas that you can implement today to reach new audiences, showcase your brand’s expertise, retain clients, and boost overall sales.

Take 5 with Shama Every Week for the BEST Content in Marketing, Technology, and PR

You are in great company! Over 600,000 business leaders around the world get our content. You will automatically receive our most popular content and access to exclusive material before anyone else!

See what they say


Get the full guide below.

What's your moment?
Daily videos to ignite your momentum

What's your moment? Daily videos to ignite your momentum

Receive daily videos with strategies, best practices, and litmus tests for discovering and igniting your moment.