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Designing an Effective and Adaptable Marketing Organization

By Marc Brown | July 30, 2018 | 0 Comments

MarketingMarketing Leadership and Strategy

Marketing has long been a challenging proposition. The inherent circuitous path from brand to buyer, coupled with the ever-changing (and increasing) set of influencers scattered along the customer journey, has always made it that way. But if it was challenging in the past, the level of complexity has skyrocketed in recent years. Numerous factors are fueling this evolution. Smarter buyers, advanced digital technologies, and social media shifting the power from seller to buyer are among a few.

Out of necessity, marketers are growing up, using more advanced techniques and analytics to unlock customer insights and tools to scale their efforts.  Unfortunately, marketing organization design and composition have not kept pace. At best, org design issues are creating inefficiencies, but at worst, creating barriers that are inhibiting teams from achieving their business objectives.

CMOs understand the urgency and need for change, as noted in the Gartner 2017 CMO Strategy Survey (Gartner subscription required), but are struggling.

Complicating the issue, CMOs need to balance team transformation efforts with resourcing needed for existing programs supporting their business.  As a recent client noted, “It feels like I am trying to swap out airline engines while in-flight”. This modern marketing conundrum explains why so many CMOs do little to nothing to advance their team structure or make bold moves with their in-house versus external sourcing strategy. They simply don’t see a risk-free path of evolving their organization without significantly impacting their ongoing program efforts and results.

There is a better way, a pragmatic way, to evolve and build a marketing organization that will support today’s dynamic customer-centric marketplace, and be aligned for future needs.  Your new org design must:

  • Leverage the strengths of the ‘both/and’ philosophy of centralized and decentralized models; and be
  • Capable of strong internal and external collaboration — one with the talent to lead, contribute and cooperate simultaneously.
(Source: Gartner 2018)
(Source: Gartner 2018)

Stop delaying.

You can successfully transform your team by evaluating each level of your team design, starting with your organization structure, then staff skills, then processes, and finally, your mar-tech stack.  Be open and transparent about your assessment and capability in each area, asking yourself:

  1. Are we organized to win? Decompose this question, looking at your mission statement, your team structure, and defined team roles. Do you understand what is expected of marketing? Are you expected to drive growth, awareness and customer experience, or lead generation and communications? Do you have a highly distributed team?  What functions do you need tight control over? What functions can be run with more autonomy? You will need to align your marketing mandate to your structure, leveraging the benefits of centralized and decentralized models.
  2. Do we have the staff, and the associated capabilities / skills to execute successfully?  Again, you will need to assess your team’s capabilities, looking for skills coverage, adaptability, and breadth of knowledge.  In an ideal world, you will have the ability to balance your project utilization, minimizing bottlenecks in project ideation, development, and deployment. To do this, invest in talent development, working diligently to evolve your core set of marketers skills in accordance with the Fat-T model. Check out “Marketing Organization Capabilities Survey 2017” (Gartner subscription required). The goal here should be to develop more individuals that can play multiple roles, enabling more flexibility in project staffing.

    (Source: Gartner 2018)
    (Source: Gartner 2018)
  3. How can we work smarter and more efficient? Are you confident that your working procedures are documented, understood, and being followed? And more importantly, can you improve your current processes by the adoption of agile principles? Agile marketing is taking a foothold in many marketing teams today, who are using the Kanban or Scrum methodologies to improve collaboration, communication, and team productivity.  Check out “4 Steps for Building an Agile Marketing Team” (Gartner subscription required).
  4. Are we set up to measure our performance? Do we have metrics that objectively prove the value of our actions?

By tackling each of these four dimensions, you can build an incremental plan to transform your team.








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