Introducing the AMA San Diego State of Marketing Report

Discussions with San Diego executives echo AMA’s seven big problems in marketing

The American Marketing Association recently revealed its first-ever intellectual agenda featuring the “Seven Big Problems in the Marketing Industry.” The intent of the intellectual agenda is to serve as inspiration and guidance for those in the marketing community with both applied and theoretical knowledge. Going forward, AMA intends to provide actionable insights, frameworks, tool and resources.

Against this backdrop, AMA San Diego, in partnership with Q2 Insights, Inc. and FreshForm, has undertaken its first-ever State of Marketing Report to examine marketing in the U.S. from a San Diego perspective. The State of Marketing Report – The San Diego Perspective, which will be available for download in August 2017, is a multi-year effort that will be expanded year over year in both breadth of industries and marketing leaders and depth of insights. In 2017 the qualitative research project included marketing luminaries in San Diego from a cross-section of both B2C and B2B industries:

The topics discussed during this study included:

  • Hot trends in marketing
  • The evolving role of the CMO
  • Branding strategies
  • Marketing strategies
  • Media strategies
  • Marketing ROI
  • Marketing research usage
  • Customer experience
  • Segmentation and personalization
  • Data and analytics
  • Marketing department structure
  • In-house versus agency resources
  • Marketing budgets

While the 2017 State of Marketing Report – The San Diego Perspective was not framed around the AMA intellectual agenda, there were many learnings and insights that serve to inform and provide solutions to the “Seven Big Problems in the Marketing Industry.”

In this first article in a series about the seven marketing industry problems, we summarize the seven problems and also highlight two additional challenges we identified in the 2017 State of Marketing Report – The San Diego Perspective.

Future articles will provide a deeper dive into each of the seven big marketing problems, the relevant perspective of San Diego marketing leaders, and, in some cases, recommendations for best practices. The good news is that in most cases, marketing leaders are tackling these issues head-on.

The Seven Big Problems in the Marketing Industry
  1. Effectively targeting high value sources of growth. Identifying the highest value source or sources of growth for your brand, product or service has been proven time and again to be a foundational issue in marketing. Focusing on the wrong target, or one that does not offer the greatest value to the organization, negatively impacts growth and return on investment potential. The common solution to this is referred to as “segmentation”; however, the hot new term for this is “demand landscape mapping.”
  2. The role of marketing in the firm and the c-suite. Some marketers struggle to “have a voice” within their organizations while others not only “have a seat at the table”, but also have new responsibilities in managing insight development, directing product/service development, and facilitating demand generating activities. Changes in business that have impacted this marketing problem include moving marketing, guest/customer experience and public relations under a “Chief Brand Officer” position; a shift in the control of “information” from marketing to the IT or analytics groups; and either reorganizing to push marketing to the front lines or working to centralize marketing.
  3. The digital transformation of the modern corporation. Organizations are desperately trying to keep up with the digital revolution that is not only changing the tools used for marketing but is transforming the infrastructure of business in terms of structures, processes, workflow and decision making. While marketing tends to focus on the transformation of marketing communications, social media, and big data, the c-suite is focused on larger issues such as survival, change, and the competitive environment. Companies are evolving to have a focus on information and services rather than products. And what was formerly one-way communication is now two-way with customers taking control. When marketing lags in the area of digital transformation, the organization will become less relatable to customers, less profitable, and less competitive.
  4. Generating and using insight to shape marketing practice. Companies are becoming more and more data-centric collecting vast amounts of information and data from credit card transactions, social media tracking and CRMs. The AMA fears that this abundance of data may detract from the difference between data, information and insights. Data and information is output at a herculean pace, insights are not. Insights are critical to the success of data-driven marketing practice.
  5. Dealing with an omni-channel world. With the proliferation of social media, mobile media, always-on communications, the Internet of Things and multi-channeled markets, marketers are now tasked with incorporating omni-channel methods in strategies and tactics. Firms need new capabilities to take advantage of the omni-channel world. Focus is not on how to maximize one channel but how to link between channels. Further, the transfer of information is no longer from organization to consumer; communication now flows from the consumer.
  6. Competing in dynamic, global markets. At both the customer and competitor level, the speed of change within global markets is unprecedented. Non-traditional competitors such as second-world firms and emerging economies are developing rapidly. On the flip side, many big growth opportunities are in emerging marketplaces which is new and unfamiliar territory for most marketers. These new and dynamic markets are presenting new challenges for marketers: Should our firm globalize? Should marketers attempt to predict change or create change? Is it marketing’s job to monitor and predict changes in the marketplace or does this fall under the auspices of different functions?
  7. Balancing incremental and radical innovation. To be a viable player in the marketplace brands are competitive in “two time periods: the present and the future.” Not only must firms fuel innovation in the future but they must also set the course for the future by investing in disruptive technologies, business models, partnerships and customer experiences. Should companies try to balance incremental and radical innovation, or should they switch focus between the two? Some companies are addressing this challenge of balancing incremental and radical innovation by incorporating design thinking to redesign products, systems, processes and workflow. Others do not just focus on products but rather create “platform” products by creating an ecosystem of products.

The 2017 State of Marketing Report – The San Diego Perspective suggests that there are at least two additional problems faced by the marketing industry in the U.S.

  • Measuring Marketing Return on Investment (ROI). Marketing leaders identify challenges with measuring ROI and report struggling to directly link components of a marketing campaign with ROI. In the pursuit of justifying the importance of marketing expenditure to the executive board, marketers are faced with the challenge of explaining disconnects between marketing activities and ROI. This challenge is most prominent in industries with more technical products and services, where the executive board has an engineering mindset and is used to having every activity accounted for. At one extreme, companies measure ROI based on income generated (the ratio of earnings divided by the costs associated with generating the earnings within a timeframe), others are employing non-financial measures such as survey analysis of awareness, attitudes and behavior, while others are not even trying to measure ROI.

Digital marketing has opened doors for measuring return on online campaigns, paid search and more, but the transfer to ROI measurement of traditional marketing campaigns remains somewhat illusive for many.

  • Internal Recognition and Support for Marketing. Some organizations value marketing highly as evidenced by a large ratio of marketing personnel to the total number of employees; however, other companies appear to fail to recognize the importance of marketing. Notably Technology companies and companies in the Government & Community category appear to place much less emphasis on marketing. In contrast, the ratio of marketing personnel to the total number of employees in other industries is much higher with the highest ratios in Arts & Culture and Food & Beverage. Although not true of all B2B companies, B2B organizations in particular seem slower to recognize the importance of marketing relative to B2C companies. The lack of international marketing conventions for B2B companies is a clear indication of the lag relative to B2C companies.
2017 State of Marketing Report – The San Diego Perspective and seven big problems in marketing article series

In late August 2017 AMA San Diego will be making the 2017 State of Marketing Report – The San Diego Perspective available to the marketing community. The study includes inspirational marketing strategy and tactics, trends in marketing, and rich insights from 38 marketing leaders representing 32 San Diego organizations. Q2 Insights is publishing a series of eight articles on the “Seven Big Problems in the Marketing Series” in response to the AMA’s Intellectual Agenda as well as the 2017 State of Marketing Report – The San Diego Perspective.

Q2 Insights, Inc. in partnership with FreshForm Interactive, Inc., designed, implemented and reported on the 2017 State of Marketing Report – The San Diego Perspective.


Marketing is changing. The mindset of your customer is changing. The most successful companies understand and embrace change.

Today’s marketing leader must be more agile, data-focused, and customer-obsessed than ever before. We spoke to CMOs, VPs, and Director-level marketers from a variety of B2B and B2C businesses to learn how this shift in marketing is impacting San Diego.

Our 2017 State of Marketing Report – The San Diego Perspective is available now at no cost!

Authored by Heather Hatty, Stephanos Trokoudes and Kirsty Nunez of Q2 Insights, Inc.

Heather Hatty is a Project Manager at Q2 Insights. She can be reached at (985) 867-9494 ext. 2 or

Stephanos Trokoudes is a Research Analyst at Q2 Insights. He can be reached at (760) 230-2950 ext. 5 or

About Kirsty

Kirsty Nunez is the President and Chief Research Strategist at Q2 Insights, Inc., a research and innovation consulting firm with offices in San Diego and New Orleans. She can be reached at (760) 230-2950 ext. 1 or