Posts Tagged ‘Marketing Organization’
September 21st, 2010
10 Ways to Make Your Marketing Organization More Strategic and Effective
One of the biggest challenges for marketing professionals is to determine how to balance their time to work on both tactical and strategic marketing activities and actions. Left to natural tendencies, most marketing people and teams will work on short-term activities that help drive the business for the next month or quarter. An old HP colleague of mine calls this the “tyranny of the current.” Most organizations naturally assume that the primary role of marketing is to help sales close short-term and mid-term business. And that certainly is an important part of the marketing function. After all, we are trying to create new products, brand awareness, and demand for something! If it is not for sales – or to generate incremental revenues or market share – then what is it for?
Yet at the same time, when marketing teams focus only on the short term, they miss some of the strategic roles that marketing can and should play within the organization. From experience, I know that tactical, short-term focused marketing teams are not very well-respected. In order to be considered a strategic function (like finance, operations, R&D, etc.), there are other critical roles the marketing function must play. I listed those key areas in the blog entry 6 Key Roles of Highly Successful Marketing Organizations. I won’t repeat them here.
What I would like to do is highlight 10 distinct ways marketing can become more strategic in any organization. They include:
- Bring more customer insights and the voice of the customer into the organization.
- Write a strategic marketing plan, budget funds towards it, and execute against it.
- Focus a few key positions on strategy (long term) and keep those people focused on longer term activities and goals (such as planning, strategic initiatives, etc.) vs. execution (tactical).
- Separate sales or business development functions from marketing, if they are organizationally together. When marketing is imbedded within the sales department, it makes it particularly difficult to be strategic.
- Separate marketing operations (the business of marketing and reporting, forecasting, pricing, sales response, etc.) from marketing management. Give it focus within an organization.
- Set objectives, accountability, and metrics for short and long-term team objectives and hold your people accountable for delivering results for both. After all, what gets measured gets done.
- Hire the right people for your organization. You need people who have the skills to operate at both a strategic and tactical level.
- Learn to prioritize and say no. Of course, this is very hard to do. But stick with activities that are aligned with the organization’s objectives, not the “issue du jour” advanced by an aggressive sales manager or the sales response team.
- Read Marketing Managementby Kotler and Keller. This is a great book to learn about strategic marketing management.
- Set expectations around long term focus with senior management. With constrained resources, a common feature to most marketing organizations, certain tactical activities will need to be de-prioritized in order to spend time on the longer term, strategic elements of the business plan. These strategic elements should contribute to the company’s longer term revenue and profitable growth.
Effective marketing requires a balance of strategic and tactical work. Too little tactical work and marketing will be seen as working “in the clouds.” Too much tactical work and marketing will not be valued as a strategic function but as a “sales assist” team.
I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on how you have balanced these orientations within your own marketing teams.
February 24th, 2010
I am late with this blog post, but I wanted to take some time to think about and define essential elements and functions world class marketing organizations exhibit. I may be biased because of the previous positions I have had at HP. But I believe the most successful marketing organizations and leaders create and blend roles that drive the business growth and deliver upon their functional objectives and deliverables. While I assume I will deliver many future posts on the topic of the role of marketing and CMO, let me say the following which may obvious to many.
The more the marketing role is structured around deliverables and tactics, the less value the rest of the company (and the people who manage the budgets) will ascribe to the marketing function. In contrast, the greater the ability of marketing to influence the business – whether that be strategy, value creation, new product development, growth initiatives, etc. the more value and importance a company will derive out of their marketing organizations. In my consulting practice and network, I have met many companies “enlightened” about the value of marketing. They say they want to build a “strategic marketing” organization and invest money, hire talented people, etc. The goal, of course, is admirable. But then ask the tough questions. You find out that marketing doesn’t report to the CEO/President like HR, Finance, Operations, etc. It reports two or three levels down in the organization. Think that is a strategic investment in marketing? Ask another question and they will tell you they don’t know much about marketing – they read that is important (or some consultant or the board told them it was important) and they want to invest, but watch it at a distance. “Prove to me that marketing has strategic value and we will elevate it in the organization”, they pontificate.
The marketing professionals that take on these roles, in many cases, are doomed to failure because their organization is not really ready to engage or support the marketing function at an appropriate level. Finally, some sales-focused organizations and CEO/owner managers are not ready to be “enlightened” by a more capable and powerful marketing organization or leader. They say, “Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power”.
What I can say, after observing great and not so great marketing organizations, is I believe there are 6 key roles that most successful marketing organizations (and the people in them) play. Executing on them greatly improves the chances that world class marketing will be delivered.
- Be the Strategic Visionary for the Business – Shape the future direction of the company and help the company and the board see what the future and success looks like. Be an externally facing PR/Industry Analyst spokesperson about this vision and strategy with the CEO and the other executives.
- Grow Revenues and Share While Effectively Managing Profitability – Be the champion of growth in the company. Build strategic plans, portfolios, and initiatives that drive growth short term and long term revenue and market share while delivering on the bottom line profit of the company – net profit, operating profit, EBIDA, etc.
- Identify and Create New Business Opportunities – Help the company identify adjacent, new business opportunities that can be grown organically or through acquisition. Assist the company in its make, buy or build decision-making. Finally, lead the organization in the identification of potential partners or acquisition targets
- Bring the Voice of Customer and Insights to CEO and C-Level Staff – Do it in a way they can be internalized and used to create value and competitive advantage for the company. Listen to what customers are saying. Create different ways to interact and capture that feedback (i.e. social media). Be able to aggregate the data and provide meaningful insights that are actionable.
- Create and Manage the Right Marketing Structures – Ability to successfully brand, create, introduce, manage, and sell a company’s products and services at the appropriate cost and with the right ROI. Not everything in marketing is fun and glamorous. We need to create structures that measure the investment return (ROI) of the money we spend and create structures and processes to get what we need out of the organization to deliver the functional goals. We also need be great in the functional practice of creative and innovative marketing and understand and master relevant, new marketing techniques and practices.
- Proper Marketing Role is a Blend of Activities and Roles Over the Strategic Planning Horizon - Spend too much time in strategic planning, and the company may view marketing as being in an ivory tower. Spend too much time in tactical execution mode and you might not be seen as value-added function, but one that wildly spends money on frivolous activities. It is the classic Prisoner’s Dilemma. While not easy, good marketing organizations are able to balance the two well. One other thing I would mention is that as a marketing functional leader, spending too much time in strategy or execution risks labeling you as too strategic (can’t execute) or not strategic enough. Balance and harmony on this continuum is key.
The important point, in summary, is that marketing is the only function, in the office of the CEO, which can broadly lead an organization down the path of growth and strategic insight. Because of the scope of what marketing people do, this leadership doesn’t come from other functions such as HR, Finance, or Operations.
There is a lot of literature and articles out there about the evolving role of marketing and CMO. Here are a few that I found interesting.
Happy reading and please let me know if you have other ideas, comments, or thoughts about key marketing roles.
- Case Study
- CMO Council
- Competitive Analysis
- Customer Engagement
- Customer Expereince
- Definition of Blog
- Marketing Communications
- Most Valuable Customers
- Product Management
- Product Marketing
- Social Media