Laura McLellan

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Laura McLellan
Research Vice President
16 years at Gartner
37 years IT industry

Laura McLellan serves CMOs and other marketing executives, sharing how digital strategies are being integrated with traditional marketing. With an extensive background in marketing and information technology services, she can help CMOs understand how companies are using digital marketing technology ...Read Full Bio

Marketers Should Love Their New Reality – P+L Responsibility

by Laura McLellan  |  July 10, 2014  |  Submit a Comment

Every day we read about the changing role of the CMO and their increased responsibilities and impact on the business.  But nothing says marketing has successfully morphed as much as its responsibility from a cost center to a P&L.  Once a function has P&L responsibility, it has no choice but to deliver – to meet measurable goals that contribute significantly to the top and bottom line.  With the growth of digital commerce and marketing’s increasing role in it, marketing now has a direct line of sight to revenue.

Scott Davis, author of “The Shift: The Transformation of Today’s Marketers into Tomorrow’s Growth Leaders”,  says that for senior marketers to become visionary leaders, a P&L mindset is a requisite. The P&L is where marketing strategies and tactics will ultimately be measured for their effect on the bottom line.

CMO’s Comment on Advantages of Having a P&L

Kevin Hall, formerly CMO at Hanesbrands, quoted in a SpencerStuart report, said “Linking what you’re doing as CMO to a P&L responsibility enables you to implement the change there the fastest. It allows the business to serve as a learning lab, and others can see the results that marketing can bring.”

As Dennis Cary, former SVP, Chief Marketing and Customer Officer at United Airlines, put it, “A P&L orientation will always enhance the credibility and support you receive from your executive peers.”  Source: Scott Davis

Adobe’s CMO, Ann Lewnes, says she believes it makes her more credible and more conversant. Owning a P&L, she says, helps marketers get to the place where they understand the product and the customer in an intimate way, enhancing their ability to be a credible resource for the business.  Source: AdAge

CMO Job Postings Call Out P&L Responsibility

Where formerly a “P&L mindset” was required, now we’re seeing actual P&L responsibility. Look at these two job openings for CMOs:

“Reporting to the CEO, the CMO will have overall strategic leadership and P&L responsibility for an industry leading portfolio of brands.  With a staff of x marketing professionals, this individual will oversee all facets of a brand with a leading presence in a number of significant product categories.  As the company has aggressively embraced a market driven, brand management structure, the CMO will not only have full P&L responsibility with a marketing budget of $x, but will also be expected to bring a highly visible leadership both internally and externally to the company and its brands across multiple product categories.  This position is one of the top 15 executive positions in the company and is a key member of the Executive Team, which is charged with guiding the overall strategic direction of this $x corporation.”

“The global Chief Marketing Officer will have executive level responsibility for leading enterprise-wide marketing, corporate communications and digital marketing globally across all lines of business. This senior executive will be a key business partner and high-impact functional resource for line business leaders and geographic region leaders in achieving the next generation of business growth. This individual will have P&L responsibility for delivering revenue (including new channels of distribution), overseeing and building/directing a team of x people.”

Gartner Reports Two Out of Five Marketers Have Their Own P&L for Sales from Digital Channels

We realize that revenue attribution is still an inexact science, and the measurement of conversions through traditional sales channels has its limitations.  However, revenue from digital channels such as a proprietary e-commerce website, third-party storefronts, and commerce transactions on social networking sites is easier to measure.  Digital channels are where marketing frequently has significant – sometimes total – responsibility.

Gartner has asked the same question in three separate surveys – “Does your marketing organization have its own P&L to capture revenue from sales that are made through digital channels?”  We had 688 respondents – all from companies with revenue greater than $500M. Respondents included not only marketers, but Finance, business unit managers, strategic planning, and sales managers.  

- between 41% to 46% answered yes, marketing has its own P&L.  

- between one-quarter to one-third said they share a P&L with a business unit or brand. 

- more plan to have their own marketing P&L within 24 months.    

This week, Gartner features key findings from the most recent of the surveys, “The Evolving Role of Marketing in Digital Commerce”, available to clients.  For more information, see

Clearly, the shift is underway.


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Category: Digital Marketing     Tags: , , , , ,

Marketing Organization Will Continue As a Perpetually Unfinished Work In Progress

by Laura McLellan  |  June 20, 2014  |  Submit a Comment

Last fall I added a garage to my house. That set a chain of events in motion that caused major changes to the landscaping around my family home.  It irrevocably changed when oak and pine trees came down, a bulldozer dug up the back yard for a new septic system, 40-year old rhododendrons and a lilac tree my grandfather started before I was born had to be removed and half of the front garden disappeared.  The 30’ tall holly tree my mother planted which was loaded with red berries in November-December before the winter robins arrived the week after New  Year’s – every year at the same time – to eat every berry on the tree, is now gone. 

All these things happened just before winter put a stop to any reconstruction.  Wonderful, I thought, I have months of cold and snow to deal with the changes and plan what will replace them. Not to mention time to mourn a bit for what was lost, while appreciating not having to brush snow and scrape ice from the car after every winter storm.  I put together a project schedule and plant list for what would replace the previous landscaping. I gleefully perused plant and seed catalogs, and because I am an unapologetic research maven, I dipped into lots of on-line gardening advice.  Great – room for a new vegetable garden; a new tall perennials garden; some interesting evergreens, a pergola to plant with tall vining flowers.  Maybe some tall raised beds at hip height good for the – ahem – aging gardener. 

You can see where this is going, right?  Gardening, which is never complete, is a perfect analogy for what’s happening in marketing organizations – continuous change.  Here are 4 quick thoughts based on conversations with colleagues and clients:

Organization doesn’t mean what it used to

Definition – an administrative and functional structure (as a business); also :  the personnel of such a structure.  Synonyms –  association, brotherhood, consortium, fellowship, fraternity, order.  All contained within a single company?  Not when you take customers, crowdsourcing, armies of independent contractors and external marketing service providers into account.  All reporting to a single function or manager?  Not when you routinely assemble flexible project or sprint teams from across functions.  Or even better when you rotate less experienced marketing staff through a Center of Expertise for 3 months. 

Reorganization is a dirty word  

 Definition – the imposition of a new organization; organizing differently (often involving extensive and drastic changes); an extensive alteration of the structure of a company.  Partly because of the stress it causes your people, partly because in many companies it’s guaranteed to slow work down and delay deliverables.  But marketing is learning as it goes along, and the organizational model that works today likely won’t work tomorrow (or at least not in the same way).  Some companies are deliberately setting up different models where reorganization is seldom necessary because marketing staff understand it’s about the work, not to whom you report.   

Two speed marketing impact on the organization

My colleague Jake Sorofman discussed it here.  Speed one? Campaigns: time bound, centralized and tightly orchestrated.  Speed two? Continuous: decentralized, organic and conversational.  Companies we talk with describe the second speed as decentralized, agile, innovative, high-speed and, most importantly, responsive.  They talk about the difficulties in changing their functional and organizational culture to allow the necessary and ongoing changes, even the need to run an “internal start-up”.

Gartner has described it for IT as follows “One mode focuses on further industrializing IT, exploiting emerging cloud services and automation, and building on and extending the solid foundation of tried, trusted, rigorous processes, methodologies and services. The other mode seeks to develop a more agile and innovative capability, culture and approach to leadership that can meet the emerging challenges of digitalization, but is prepared to manage the trade-offs and associated inherent risks.”  For more detail, read here.

When “make change stop happening” isn’t an option

In a recent webinar on marketing organizational design, we showed an “org chart” without lines, groupings of like marketing expertise and responsibilities, as well as four models beyond the hierarchical.  They have provoked a great deal of discussion with our clients.  Last week and next week’s published notes and curated content (available to clients here) discuss shifts we’re seeing and how some progressive marketers are organized.

Let us know if you have ideas on how to deal with continuous change in the marketing organization.

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Category: Digital Marketing     Tags: , ,

Marketing’s Voracious Appetite for Innovation

by Laura McLellan  |  May 23, 2014  |  Submit a Comment

In case you had any doubt that marketers are hungry for innovation, consider these three points.  First, Unilever announced the launch today of its “Unilever Foundry” program  - open to marketing start-ups working across areas including digital, content, social and mobile.  Not run by central marketing, as its existing Go Global Incubator program  is, the new program will give its own brands more opportunity in how and with which start-ups they work with.

Unilever is not alone –  Nissan, PepsiCo, AT&T, Home Depot and other major brands are in the business of purchasing equity stakes in digital marketing startups.  But startup investments – with the hope of future returns – are not the only reason marketers are investing.  They often run marketing innovation labs to find new digital marketing and digital commerce technologies, tools and techniques. Recently Gartner has seen an increase in inquiries from clients looking for process maps to quickly evaluate and prioritize new marketing technologies.  Companies are finding that their agencies’ knowledge of marketing technology may bring them up to competitive parity, but may not lead to breakthrough competitive differentiation.

Second, Gartner found in its 2014 marketing spending survey – available free at - that 83% of large and extra-large companies allocated a portion of their marketing budget to innovation, and the average amount is 9.4% of the marketing budget, or about 1% of company revenue.  More and more marketing titles  include innovation, and Chief Innovation Officers represent a mix of traditional CTOs as well as digital marketers.  More companies (over 80%, Gartner found) have the equivalent of chief marketing technologists.  One of their most often-cited roles is as a CTO to lead the evaluation and prioritization of new marketing technologies.

Third, all you have to do is look at the rise of marketing innovation-focused events, consultants and courses available.  Marketing-focused conferences with the word Innovation in the title are both broad and industry-specific, for example “Digital Marketing Innovation Summit” and “Marketing Innovation Summit for B2B”.  We see the shift in focus of established conferences such as South by Southwest (SXSW) in 2014 from tech innovation to marketing innovation. There are also dozens of consulting firms offering marketing innovation, both traditional and hands-on, for example Inventours  and Phenomenon  Major universities such as Stanford University, Harvard and MIT are beginning to teach courses on marketing innovation.

What Unilever’s move says about innovation to me is that centralized innovation management may be too slow, have too much governance, and will operate better at the edges where marketers are busy learning how to fail early and fail often.  Marketers who operate at real-time speed have the expense budget authority to be innovative using a variety of sources – agencies, startups, crowdsourcing and, not least, customer communities.  Instead of trying to modify legacy processes from internal IT, R&D or procurement which are restrictive and slow, marketing has the opportunity to do what they do best – be creative and develop a flexible,  high-speed model for digital customer-focused marketing innovation.

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Category: Digital Marketing Uncategorized     Tags: , , , ,

Marketers Allocate 9% of Their Budget for Innovation

by Laura McLellan  |  April 28, 2014  |  Submit a Comment

Gartner’s 2014 digital marketing spending survey validated a figure  that’s been postulated – marketers set aside 10% of their budget for activities that lead to future growth.  Of the 276 managers who responded to the question “Does your organization allocate a portion of its total marketing expense budget to innovation?”, 83% said yes.  Asking those who said yes “What percentage of your organization’s total marketing expense budget is set aside for innovation?”, the average response was 9.4%.  To obtain a copy of key findings from the survey or a replay of the summary webinar, go to .

No Surprise That Marketing’s Involved in Innovation

Innovation can mean many things.  Marketing has always been associated with creativity.  Marketing is deeply involved with – and measured on – growth.  Many  marketers have responsibility for all or the initial stages of product development, given their intimate knowledge of customers and markets.  Our research found that 42% of marketers “have a significant role in strategic planning.”  Digital marketing is known for operating in a “fail often, fail fast” mode, especially with new techniques and technologies.

A wide variety of marketing jobs include innovation in the title. Here are examples – they fall into four main categories:

General Digital Product Development Strategy
-VP, Marketing & Innovation -Director, Digital Marketing & Innovation -SVP, Global Product Management & Innovation -VP, Marketing, Innovations and Strategy
-SVP, Innovation & Growth Marketing -VP, Digital Brand Marketing & Innovation -VP, Product Brand Marketing & Innovation -VP, Marketing Strategy & Innovation
-Director of Marketing & Innovation -VP, Content Marketing &  Innovation -VP, Marketing, Innovation and RD -Chief Transformation, Innovation &  Marketing Officer
-Chief Marketing, Insights & Innovation Officer -VP, Social Marketing Innovation -SVP, Technology & Innovation Marketing -SVP, Strategy & Consumer Marketing Innovation

 The Innovation Role Crosses Functions

Of course many other functions in a company support innovation as well as marketing.  Some companies have a Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) – the majority of them position innovation as a joint responsibility with another role, such as growth, strategy, marketing, or R&D.  A Gartner conversation with recruiting firms Heidrick & Struggles and Russell Reynolds indicates most CINOs report to the CEO, with a fair share reporting to marketing, engineering or R&D. 

The chief marketing technologist (CMT), a hybrid CIO-CTO dedicated to marketing, also plays a role in innovation.  81% of companies now have the equivalent of a CMT, up from 70% a year earlier.  They help marketers scan, test and evaluate potential new technologies which can provide competitive differentiation, improve efficiency or customer experiences.  For more information, see the ChiefMarTech blog.

Google & Coca Cola’s 70-20-10 Investment Model at Work in Digital Marketing

This approach to innovation can be summarized by “now”, “new” and “next”.  The CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, described Google’s 70-20-10 approach here, where 10% represents “truly new”.  As part of Coca Cola’s 2020 vision, in its famous marketing video on content/conversation, 10% is “high risk brand new ideas” (starts at 10:31).  Think about marketing’s ability to innovate in these three areas:

  • digital products, digital channels, digital communities and digital business strategies
  • digital capabilities to create new markets or cross industry boundaries
  • digital contributions from across the ecosystem, including customers, partners, and other stakeholders

Marketing – Masters of the Valuable

Philip Kotler, Professor of  International Marketing at the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management, put it this way ““R&D people are the Masters of the possible; Marketing personnel are the Masters of the valuable.” Put together digital marketing’s role to “use a set of techniques, enabled by technology, which enables marketing to improve its processes to engage in a dynamic conversation with people who are influencers and buyers, and ultimately target, acquire and retain customers” with marketing’s remit to drive growth and you see why marketing has a significant budget for innovation.

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Category: Digital Marketing     Tags: , , , ,

CMOs and CIOs Are Two Functions Divided by Language

by Laura McLellan  |  April 25, 2014  |  1 Comment

In fact, digital marketing and the rest of the company are separated into those who not only recognize words and phrases, but can correctly explain what they mean, and use them properly.  Heaven only knows how deep the creative bent of marketers is – leading them to invent new words and use old words differently.  While this may be desirable when applied to products or customers; it has also created significant problems.  [With apologies to George Bernard Shaw or Winston Churchill – this quote has been attributed to both – “The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.”] 

New Words

Marketing, especially digital marketing, is a discipline where new words are popping up all the time.  Think back to the first time you heard someone use the word, “creative,” as a noun instead of as an adjective. Or the time when you were privy to a discussion about viewability or deep linking.  Like every industry, digital marketing has its own vocabulary that includes words such as these.  

Vocabulary changes the fastest – the science of  onomasiology.  For example, the word buzzworthy was recently added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online – “adj. (informal) likely to arouse the interest and attention of the public, either by media coverage or word of mouth.”  Marketers use the term all the time, but how often do we stop to think that maybe our audience doesn’t exactly know what the word means or how to apply it?

New Meanings   

One example is used above – Google is used as a verb. Semantic changes are shifts in meaning of  existing words, including the pairing of two words to create one with a very different meaning.

My colleague swears this is a true story that happened at Gartner’s Barcelona Symposium.  She was conducting a panel of CMOs and CIOs.  The phrase “viral marketing” came up and a CIO made a negative comment.  Everyone stopped talking and looked at him, until another panelist asked “do you know what viral marketing means?” 

He replied that he didn’t, but the word must be related to virus, as in computer virus, which is a bad thing.  Someone went on to explain what viral marketing is and why it’s a good thing.  Talk about a vivid illustration of the need for two related functions who work together to understand each other’s language.

Share Your Terminology

The days of hardcover dictionaries are waning. Now we all do it online – Google word definitions and synonyms without a second thought.   We let applications do our spell check and grammar check.  However as far as I know, there’s no magical thought transference machine or application – yet – that will let us download the knowledge of language from one person’s brain to another.   Therefore, as marketers, step up to the responsibility to educate your colleagues – and to learn their language as well.

Gartner has developed a glossary of digital marketing terms to give you a reference point for your internal and external discussions.  View a copy of  the most recent “Gartner Glossary of Digital Marketing Terms”  here (some documents may not be available as part of your current Gartner subscription). 

We’d love to hear from you about what other terms you want included in the next update.

Note:  If you’re interested, look up diachronic linguistics  – the discipline concerned with changes in a language over time.

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Category: Digital Marketing     Tags:

The Ultimate Key to CMO Tenure: Align Up, Down and Sideways Expectations

by Laura McLellan  |  April 21, 2014  |  Comments Off

“Under what conditions is it possible for a CMO to achieve all the expectations for growth, revenue, profit, innovation, customer relationships, new technologies, etc. placed on them?”  That’s the question someone asked me this week.  When I started to think about the answer, the first thing that came to mind was “who sets the expectations?” The answer is that the CMO often has bilateral control over expectations at three levels.

Up – CEO expectations

Sure, the culture of a company, its organization, market position, budgets, customers and all the rest matter to CMO success and tenure. But to me, it basically comes down to people.  Think about it – the CEO hires the CMO, right?  The expectations for what the CMO will achieve come primarily from the CEO, who:

  • sets the tone for how the CMO and marketing in general is valued within their company
  • determines the scope and level of responsibility the CMO has
  • directs how the CMO is measured, and
  • clarifies what degree of support the CMO can count on

So, expectations for the CMO’s impact on the business are usually negotiated by both parties during the hiring process.

Sideways – other C-level executives’ expectations

The CEO sets expectations for what role the CMO will play with other C-level executives – change agent, growth driver, innovation stimulator, traditional service center.  But each of the CMO’s peers also have expectations for what marketing will do for them and with them (and occasionally do to them, as well), and how the relationship between the functions will work.

It’s axiomatic that in the first 100 days in the role a CMO will do intelligence gathering – talking with customers, partners, the staff they’ve inherited, as well as their peers – before setting in place a schedule for “quick wins” to cement their ability to deliver on expectations.

The honeymoon period is short to show progress in meeting peers’ expectations. That’s where sharing the clear expectations you have received from your boss – and theirs – is critical, as is bi-directional negotiation.  Raise and resolve issues early or you may never achieve the expectations of peers.

Down – the marketing team’s expectations

The existing marketing staff has expectations of their new boss. You undoubtedly have expectations of them too.  Sharing your vision of where marketing is headed – and the CEO’s expectations – is critical.  Making clear early what your preliminary expectations are of them goes a long way, as well as a commitment to modify those expectations after you’ve had a chance to meet with all stakeholders.

You know that you can’t meet peers and the CEO’s expectations without the enthusiastic contributions of your team, so joint expectation setting within the marketing team is required.  This will be a journey rather than a one-time effort, so explain it that way.  You only get one chance to make a positive impression – make your first one count by planning ahead of time how you’ll set, and manage, expectations.


As a new CMO you can accept or modify what the expectations of you and your team will be.  Up front, with the CEO, before you take the job.  Soon after you start with your team and with peers.  And later on when you’ve proven your ability to deliver.

So my answer to the original question would be a simple one – when you’re involved in setting the expectations in the first place and they are consistently aligned - up, down and sideways.


Note:  Insights for this post came from the “CMO Impact Study” by Kimberly Whitler of the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, from “20 Traits of Successful CMOs”  by Joanne Lord, CMO at BigDoor, and from conversations with my colleague Richard Fouts – see “Toolkit: Maturity Assessment for Marketing”

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Category: Digital Marketing     Tags:

The Digital CMO Is in the Eye of the Beholder

by Laura McLellan  |  February 21, 2014  |  1 Comment

Everyone knows the story of the blind men and the elephant – each one touches a different part of the elephant and based on what they touch, each decides it’s a different animal. That’s not unlike what’s happening with CMOs today. They have always had multiple responsibilities, adding digital marketing in the last decade and digital business more recently. Now there are so many capabilities the CMO is expected to have that becoming or hiring the “perfect” one is near to impossible.

Blame it on the mythology or science fiction I read as a teenager. After reading almost a hundred job descriptions of digital CMOs, I was bored silly with the sameness of the terminology. They gave me no clear picture of what such a paragon would look like. So I thought “why not just design one from scratch with all the desired attributes?” Being a visual person, I thought about tying intangible abilities to a physical manifestation, and came up with the idea of assembling a hybrid animal. Wouldn’t it be a lot more fun to ask a candidate how they match up to an aggregated picture?

Five Senses

I started with the five senses to build the digital CMO picture. According to experts, the animals named have the keenest abilities to smell, see, hear, touch and taste. You can relate the senses to the skills or capabilities required to successfully lead a progressive marketing function.

  • The nose comes from a bear – finely tuned for scenting the smallest molecules and tracking them unerringly. Required for noting shifts in customer behavior and expectations.
  • The eyes come from an eagle – able to detect minute motions from high above the ground and rapidly swoop down to seize its prey. Required to lead the organization towards real-time marketing and the ability to act decisively.
  • The ears come from an owl – constantly flickering for the tiniest whisper of noise and assessing danger or opportunity. Required to create an agile environment that allows for rapid new offering development, pricing changes or investment shifts.
  • The fingers come from a manatee – with thousands of sensory receptors, they have the finest sense of touch in the animal kingdom. Required to represent marketing as an equal member of the executive leadership team and be an agent of change.
  • The tongue comes from a shark – their organs can detect one drop of blood a mile away. Required for creating and supporting innovation using emerging techniques and technologies to create competitive advantage.

Six Abilities

I added six inherent abilities to fill in other pieces of the picture. These animals are top-rated for memory, strength, speed, agility, intelligence and caring.

  • The memory comes from a dolphin. Required to execute data-driven marketing and learn from past patterns.
  • The strength comes from an African elephant. Required to develop and adhere to continuous measurement and optimization of marketing performance.
  • The speed comes from a falcon. Required to assess, test and reject or deploy leading-edge marketing technology.
  • The agility comes from a cheetah. Required internally to break down organizational silos between traditional and digital marketing; externally between marketing and other functions – all to create seamless, ever-improving customer experiences.
  • The intelligence comes from homo-sapiens (and the great apes). Required to set vision and develop strategies and initiatives to achieve desired results.
  • The ability to care for others comes from a dog. Required to inspire and lead a high-performance marketing team.

You’ve Gotta Have Heart

Finally, for the 12th attribute, add the heart of a lion – refusal to give up and to show exceptional courage. This attribute above all is required today – you’re doing things that haven’t been done before. Show your team, your peers and your boss it’s OK to fail and learn from it, but never stop changing and improving.

Put the Picture Together

I wish my graphics skills could do justice to a picture of what this “perfect” digital CMO looks like. If any of you want to try, be my guest. Or if you have attributes – along with animals that best represent them – you think I missed, please respond.

In the meantime, look at the series of interviews my colleagues have created which is featured this week on the Gartner for Marketing Leaders website (subscription required). They include marketing leaders from Delta Airlines, eBay, Hubspot, IBM, and La Prairie. Each one embodies one or more attributes the successful digital CMO requires.

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Category: Digital Marketing     Tags:

10 Marketing Executive Resolutions for 2014

by Laura McLellan  |  January 6, 2014  |  Comments Off

The problem with most new year’s resolutions is that they’re either too vague or too narrow.  Try looking at them with an OKR lens (objective and key results – a methodology invented by Intel and popularized by John Doerr, the famous VC who invested in Netscape, Amazon and Google).  See a video made by Google Ventures for more information on OKRs.  When you have to write down a concise objective, what key results you’ll use to measure it and in what timeframe; you’ll see which ones make sense for you, your organization and your enterprise.

Here’s a list of 10 resolutions and objectives based on conversations Gartner’s marketing analysts have held with CMOs and digital marketing executives from large enterprises in 2013.  They are broken down into 3 things to stop, continue and start, plus a personal goal. Several key results are shown as a straw man to get your creative juices flowing.

#1 – Stop communicating with our customers via siloed marketing channels.

Objective:  Create more compelling and holistic customer experiences

Key results:

#2 – Stop actions and attitudes that cause internal functions to view us as championing “marketing world domination”

Objective:  Create a culture inside marketing that values collaboration

Key results:

#3 – Stop “inside-out” thinking

Objective:  Involve our customers in everything from new offering development onwards; accept that they are in charge of our future success

Key results:

#4 – Continue growing customer data analytics skills & transparency of reporting

Objective:  Improve data-driven decision-making across the enterprise

Key results:  Build our “as is” and “should be by end of 2015” gap analysis by February, socialize with other functions by March, prioritize and agree upon two short-term and two longer-term projects by April, gain resource and executive commitments by May, source internally and externally by June, deliver two short-term projects by September, and share

#5 – Continue to work with peers on restructuring my enterprise’s entire customer-facing organization

Objective:  Redesign cross-functional customer-facing processes and interfaces to meet and exceed business objectives

Key results:  Evaluate and hire an external consulting firm by March; develop and prioritize redesign projects by June; execute two “quick win” projects by September; measure internal and customer satisfaction with the changes; plan 2015 project plans, budgets and personnel restructuring by December

#6 – Continue investments in innovation with pilots of new marketing techniques & technologies

Objective:  Build and sustain competitive differentiation through continuous innovation

Key results: Put the equivalent of a chief marketing technologist in place by March, have that person, my operations and product development manager deliver a multi-year roadmap by June along with criteria to judge new pilot projects, involve internal and external IT and marketing service providers in forward-looking planning by September; go into 2015 budgeting with a defensible, yet still flexible, investment plan that’s linked to key business objectives

#7 – Start building a stronger ecosystem of external marketing providers, influencers & alliances

Objective:  Take advantage of external provider strengths to complement our own knowledge, skills and reach

Key results:

#8 – Start extending centers of excellence and agile, real-time marketing initiatives across the enterprise

Objective:  Pool scarce skills and involve other functions more deeply (ex: sales, customer service, operations, internal IT)

Key results:

#9 – Start planning for new digital business models, including leadership, skills, offerings, sales and marketing channels

Objective:  Support future change requirements for digital business

Key results:

#10 – Personally resolve to spend time looking outside my enterprise at best practices and future innovations

Objective:  Be recognized by my staff, my internal & external peers, and my management as a positive change catalyst

Key results:

It’s a scary list, isn’t it?  Few marketing executives are able to tackle all ten in depth, although most wish they could. Find out more about how we’re planning to address these and other topics in our Gartner for Marketing Leaders 2014 Agenda Overviews, available now free on our website.

Best wishes for a happy, productive new year.

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Category: Digital Marketing     Tags:

How Often Should You Revise Digital Marketing Role Descriptions?

by Laura McLellan  |  August 6, 2013  |  Comments Off

Digital marketing as a discipline is new enough – and changing fast enough – that many companies need to work through an annual rewrite of the role descriptions for digital marketing personnel. If you’re not a digital marketing leader, that’s difficult but doable. However, if you are in the top 10% of progressive digital marketing organizations, you’re breaking new ground every time you create or update a role description.

Variability Galore in Role Descriptions

Benchmarks of “standard” digital marketing role descriptions DO change at least annually. It will be years before they become relatively stable – if they ever do. The research Gartner has gathered on the role descriptions currently existing in digital marketing organizations always makes us want to add 3-4 caveats:
     – “on a continuum from highly tactical to highly strategic…”
     – “depending on vertical industry and sub-industry differences…”
     – “based on the current level of maturity of the organization, its unique culture and views held by management…”
     – “due to change when xxx or yyy occurs”

Your HR organization may hate you, but in progressive digital marketing organizations you may need to change the role and responsibilities of certain positions during the measurement year. Let’s look at an example.

How Many Hats You Wear

I worked recently with a large company who is revamping their digital marketing roles. The digital marketing operations manager was bemoaning the fact that he has so many personalities he can’t keep track of them all. The more memorable were:
     - Team coach, trainer and change agent
     – Army First Sergeant
     – Negotiator & facilitator
     – Jack of all [technical, financial] trades

We talked about how he defined his job, who he worked for, what experience was required, how he was measured, among other things. At one point he observed that the role was so fluid that there was little precedent and he essentially wrote his own job description – and his 6-month and annual reviews. One of the dangers he shared – “I vastly underestimated the number of internal and external functions I needed to deal with and how much time it would take – both to educate them and me.”

Only Masochists Need Apply for Digital Marketing Operations Manager Jobs

We mapped the major functions/teams this digital marketing operations manager works with. Not all of them – just the major ones. We stopped at 8, but it could have gone over twenty. Here’s what it looked like. I winced when I saw it.



“Change Before You Have to”

Humor aside, digital marketing operations manager role descriptions are not unique.   The problem of constantly changing roles and responsibilities exists across all digital marketing organizations.  Plan for change; encourage your colleagues to do the same.  Hire people who can roll with change or even embrace it.  And count on the fact that digital marketing role descriptions will need to be updated once a year or more.

 Jack Welch once said “Change before you have to.”  In the new digital world we’re all working in, that’s sage advice.  


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My First Job As A Paid Storyteller

by Laura McLellan  |  July 2, 2013  |  3 Comments

Hot summer afternoons in a nineteenth century library on Cape Cod with a circle of small children sitting with eyes wide, as I start with “Once upon a time…” I can still remember the dusty smell of old, well-thumbed children’s books, and the fear I felt as a young teenager striving to capture their attention during Story Hour.  How is that time many years ago really different than what marketers do today?

In those days you couldn’t get a job until you were fourteen, other than babysitting.  I went one spring vacation to see the librarian in the small Cape Cod town where we summered every year and asked about working the three summer afternoons a week the small library was open.  I explained that I’d always loved books and reading, and worked in my junior high school as a library aide after school, so I knew the Dewey Decimal System and would be careful about checking out books and reshelving returned ones.  I remember I had to provide three references, including one from my school librarian.

For the princely sum of 95 cents an hour, I had my first real job.  Twelve hours a week during July and August with responsibility for the children’s room sounded easy until told I also had to conduct Story Hour.  You could read stories for part of that time, but the rest you had to tell stories that would keep your young audience engaged.  For a shy teenager that was truly daunting. I’m smiling as I remember telling my family I couldn’t go to the beach the mornings before my library job because I had to plot out what stories I’d prepare that would appeal to both little boys and little girls.

Here are four things I learned those long ago summers that are still relevant to marketers:

  • Know your audience – children have short attention spans and no hesitation about interrupting.  They can suspend belief, but they’re not gullible and can be harsh critics.
  • Tailor your material – content has to be relevant to the experience of your audience.  My attempts at science fiction stories (my favorite at that time) were a stretch for many children.
  • Involve your audience – plan the points when you ask for their participation, for example  “what do you suppose the dragon did next?”
  • Keep it short – you want your audience to say “tell me more”.

My colleague Richard Fouts, who is an outstanding storyteller, has a wonderful research note How to Tell Memorable Marketing Stories [available to Gartner for Marketing Leaders clients].  He advocates using the S.I.R. model – situation, impact, resolution – and using rich media.  You can read Richard’s free research note How to Integrate Social Media into Your Marketing Communications .

Did my experience as a children’s storyteller have something to do with my later career in marketing?  Could be.


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