Building a marketing organization that drives growth today

Technologies and customer expectations have changed faster than marketing organizations. Here’s how to fix that.


From the rise of online shopping channels to ad campaigns created for an audience of one, consumer marketing has changed more in the past ten years than it did in the previous 30. Despite that level of change and disruption, if you had put a few typical marketers from the 1980s into a time machine and sent them into the marketing departments of today, they would probably feel right at home. There might be a new IT department and a few other changes, but the job titles, structures, approach to performance management—even the vocabulary—would be remarkably familiar.

That’s not a good thing. The truth is, while the proliferation of new channels and technologies has dramatically changed the environment in which marketers operate, the way they organize and approach their tasks has stayed more or less the same. Most marketing functions still develop and roll out large and infrequent campaigns, rely on agencies to make the same old media purchases, and are organized by geography or product.

As a result, few marketing organizations are able to take full advantage of new digital and advanced analytics tools that would enable them to be more agile, engaging, and effective. They are also missing out on growth. A recent McKinsey survey of executives found that 81 percent of high-growth companies outperformed in data and analytics.

But capturing that advantage requires a new way of working. Some 71 percent of high-growth companies in that same survey have adopted agile processes such as scrum, cross-functional collaboration, and colocated teams. Another report found that top-performing marketers were more likely than their peers to be part of a networked organization (51 percent vs. 18 percent) and met more frequently with other parts of the business to create and deliver customer experience journeys.

Extensive experience working with dozens of companies to improve their organizational models has shown that marketing organizations need to change in three ways. First, they need to shift their organizational model away from “boxes and lines” to a fluid ecosystem of internal and external partners. Second, they must scale agile ways of working. And third, they need to build out a set of supporting capabilities that can deliver great customer experiences (see Exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1


Orchestrating the marketing ecosystem
The digital age has made the old agency model redundant with the emergence of an array of narrower, more specialized services (see sidebar, "The five shifts that have redefined the modern marketing landscape"). Making effective use of these capabilities requires new management approaches and ways of working:
Managing partnerships—inside and outside the organization: The traditional notion of managing a roster of a single media agency and one or two creative agencies of record seems like a relic from ancient marketing history. Today’s world features multiple channels and capabilities, such as search, social, programmatic, and content management, all of which need to be closely coordinated to be effective (see Exhibit 2).

Exhibit 2

The teams that deliver these services—whether internal or external—need to...

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