The CMO survey from Deloitte and the American Marketing Association is out, and it covers everything from the economy and marketing spend to artificial intelligence and DEI. It’s a mixed bag of good news and bad news—and some news in between. 

The good news is chief marketers are generally optimistic, which means next year may be a little more sunny than this year. The bad news is that inflation, AI, and DEI have caused some turmoil, affecting some of what we do next year.

I input the information from the survey into my Magic 8 ball to predict what to expect next year, where you should spend your time, where you’ll see decreased spend, and how to reach your goals by focusing on what’s important to the people running the organizations you work with (or within). 

There Is Optimism About the Economy

I’d like to start with the good news. The very good news. The macroeconomic forecast is that recession concerns are finally subsiding after nearly two years of wondering if it will ever hit. Optimism for the U.S. economy has increased to 66.7 on a 100-point scale, which is up from 57.7 from last year. It hit a high of 69.62 in August of 2021, so we’re getting closer to that. Yippee!

Consistent with this, marketing leaders report feeling more optimistic about the industry, their jobs, their work, and their potential.  

Despite this optimism, we still face inflation, which is leading to a decrease in marketing spend, but the good news is that this pressure has weakened from the first half of this year. I guess people are getting used to paying $12 for a single egg (I jest…sort of). 

Many CMOs said that their marketing budgets, as a percentage of the company budget, have dropped to just less than 11% (10.6%, to be exact), which is what they were pre-Covid and, truth be told, what we tell clients to expect to spend. But the good news is that, while marketing budgets have been decreasing for the past several quarters, the optimism over the economy shows they anticipate 7% growth in the next year.

I take all of this as very good news. There won’t be much change in the fourth quarter of this year, so keep your belts buckled, but I expect to see budgets open up again after the first of the year.

But Budgets Have Shifted…Drastically

And now, some bad news. Despite the renewed optimism about the economy, budgets have dramatically shifted in the last 18 months. While this survey shows CMOs expect budgets to increase next year, there are areas they will not—brand building and customer relationship management. 

Because most of the work we do, particularly concerning communications, is brand building, this is something you should keep an eye on going into next year. 

This is why I’m such a big advocate of the PESO Model™. It helps weather storms like this AND provides you a much bigger skillset to measure your work to something more than brand building. It puts you in line with marketing because you can provide real data that shows how you’re helping the organization grow. 

Lastly, according to the survey, more dollars will be allocated to new service introductions in 2024. 

Your two opportunities for growth, then, are implementing a fully functioning PESO Model program (and if you don’t know how to do that, we can teach you through the Certification) and looking for new service introductions to launch and communicate.

AI Is an Opportunity

Next up is my new BFF, artificial intelligence. While AI has existed for many years (at least a decade!), the introduction of ChatGPT late last year has helped it gain prominence in the worlds in which we live. 

The survey reveals that more than 60% of respondents have started using it in the last year and are using it for content personalization and creation.

In a test a few weeks ago, I decided to see if ChatGPT could create some brand personas for a client of ours. We weren’t necessarily going to use them, but I wanted to see if it was different than what we had come up with on our own.

My prompt was, “Build me a persona of a human resources manager who hires, onboards, and retains employees. List the roles, goals, challenges, pain points, and decision criteria for selecting a background screening company to help with hiring.”

Lo and behold, it created a persona for Jessica Roberts, human resources manager. 

Then I prompted it, “Review the following webpage content. How does it align or not align with Jessica Robert’s information needs?”, and I pasted the home page copy from the client’s website. 

It provided an analysis of what the copy had gotten right—and where there were some opportunities to speak to additional pain points. 

I kept it going, and just a couple of days ago, I had it do an analysis using the brand personas it had created for four of the client’s competitors. 

It’s definitely not flawless, but it was a fun exercise to figure out where we had some holes, which created an opportunity to tweak the website copy. 

As you think about your communications plans for 2024, consider adding AI in for content creation, personalization, content optimization, programmatic advertising, predictive analytics, and targeting decisions. 

Influencer Marketing Is an Opportunity

I want to share a couple more highlights with you before we get to how you will use all of this information to plan for 2024.

While influencer marketing saw a drop during the pandemic, it is making a comeback. You can expect organizations to begin to embrace influencer strategies again. Their expectations are high, though. They are anticipating 109% growth in three years. That’s a lot of pressure to demonstrate your influencer programs are working.

The focus will be on LinkedIn, Instagram, and the company blog, which isn’t really a surprise. There are, of course, differences in B2B and B2C preferences, but those are the big three. 

With those high expectations comes the need to address challenges tied to measuring the effectiveness of influencer marketing. This means getting really straight on what it can do well and where it has flaws. It also means being brutally honest about it so expectations are sufficiently set. The last thing you want to do is expect influencer marketing to drive 109% revenue growth when you’re not willing to pay for that kind of result. 

DEI Is an Opportunity

The survey shows that the marketing investment in DEI has faced a drastic decrease, with growth dropping from 10.7% to 2.3% in the past year. 

This shift might be because of increased economic volatility, but fewer marketers anticipate it as a top priority in the next five years.

This is shocking! 

ESPECIALLY during times of economic and social uncertainty, DEI remains essential for fostering an inclusive and diverse organization. This goes for internally as well as externally. You should continue to advocate for this because it’s not only the right thing to do but also builds customer retention and employee attraction. It will also drive growth and innovation because you have diverse brains working on the same problem.

This is a big one to keep on your list, no matter what.

Build Your 2024 Communications Plan

You know how I’m always talking about the importance of quarterly analyses of the industry and global happenings to help you prepare for the future? This survey is a great way to do that. And I will make it crazy easy for you to incorporate what you’ve learned today into your 2024 communications plan.

  1. Recognize that optimism about the economy is rising. Yes, things aren’t as normal as they were pre-pandemic, but based on everything I’m reading—including this survey—2024 will be much better. Be ready for it.
  2. Keep in mind that you may have some places to stretch your wings a bit and add new ways to build upon your existing strategy. Owned media is a great place to start if you’re new to the PESO Model. And always remember we are here to help you figure out how to implement it. 
  3. And speaking of the PESO Model, embrace it! Not only does it help you fill in the valleys when you don’t have stories in the media running, but it’s measurable, and it aligns your work with marketing. 
  4. More dollars will be allocated toward new service introductions next year, so recognize there may be opportunities for you there. While this won’t affect many of you, it’s something to keep in mind.
  5. Don’t be scared of artificial intelligence. It’s my favorite tool right now. It’s incredibly helpful and makes you efficient. We can all use time back in our day, and this is a great way to do that. It can help you with content creation, personalization, and optimization, programmatic advertising, predictive analytics, and targeting decisions. It can also enhance your communication strategies and efficiency. Use it. Love it. Get time back.
  6. Expect to be asked to include influencer marketing in your communications plan. Ensure you are well-versed in measuring the effectiveness here so that it isn’t written off in 2025.
  7. Continue to prioritize DEI efforts. Advocate for DEI initiatives as they contribute to customer retention, employee attraction, growth, and innovation.
  8. Use data to make informed decisions! You can use AI here, too. It will analyze the data so you can tell the story around it. Demonstrating how your work aligns with organizational goals and contributes to growth is essential.

There you have it! Now you are well-versed and ready to hit the ground running as you plan for an effective 2024!

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich