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THE MARKETING ORGANISATION OF THE FUTURE – “FORM EVER FOLLOWS FUNCTION”

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WHY MARKETING ORGANISATION DESIGN MATTERS

Marketing organisation designs of the future often focus exclusively on the hierarchies that define the reporting relationships between members of the marketing team, i.e. the Marketing Structure of ‘Organogram’. However, the marketing team structure is only one of eight design features that determine how effective a marketing organisation will be in meeting its purpose; to profitably meet the needs of customers.

Purpose is central to Organisation Design, in the same way that form follows function. At the heart of the marketing organisation’s purpose are customer journeys (the steps that customers take as they progress from initial awareness of products and services, to loyalty). They describe the points where marketers can anticipate and meet customer needs (i.e. where and when marketers ultimately fulfil their purpose).

It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognisable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.

LOUIS HENRY SULLIVAN, AMERICAN ARCHITECT

The challenge for marketers considering the Organisation Design of the future is that Customer Journeys have become:

a) Complex. There are many different sources of detailed information for customers, coupled with, many options for where to purchase from. To add to the complexity, there is an increasing amount of different purchase models e.g. trialist, owner, subscriber and borrower. There are many different Customer Journeys reflecting the different customer types (or ‘personas’).

b) Dynamic. Customers can move from no awareness of a product to influential advocates in minutes. Customers can rapidly move from one Customer Journey and into another.

c) Data heavy. Huge amounts of data is created through the online tracking of customer actions and interactions, from their devices, media channels, manufacturer and seller systems and many other sensors and sources.

d) Technology heavy. There are many different software applications, with requisite hardware to create content, serve content and capture, store and process data related to interactions with customers as they progress along their Customer Journeys.

In the face of this complexity, it’s no longer acceptable to only consider the structure of the marketing team (number of people and hierarchies) when specifying the required Organisation Design. To be effective and efficient in meeting their purpose, marketers need to consider eight linked factors that collectively specify the Marketing Organisation Design of the future, listed here in the order they should be addressed, from first to last:

  • Key Performance Measures
  • Leadership & Culture
  • People
  • Process
  • Structure
  • Data
  • Technology
  • Agency Partners

FUTURE MARKETING ORGANISATION DESIGN: KEY PERFORMANCE MEASURES

Ideal Marketing Organisations have agreed, at CXO level, a set of key performance measures (KPMs) for the marketing team. The KPMs are definitive and not directional, which is why they are not called key performance ‘indicators.’ The KPMs include measures for inputs (how marketing operates), outputs (what marketing delivers) and outcomes (the commercial impact of marketing) and these are reported on a regular basis, at CXO meetings, in a dashboard format, with the ability to examine KPMs in more detail if required.

All members of an ideal Marketing Organisation have personal objectives and development plans that are clearly aligned to, and support achievement of the Marketing Team’s KPMs, and their remuneration and career progression is directly linked to their past and future ability to meet those objectives.

FUTURE MARKETING ORGANISATION DESIGN: LEADERSHIP & CULTURE

The leadership of the ideal Marketing Organisation promotes ‘customer centricity,’ i.e. the needs of customers are at the heart of all decisions and actions. This is easy to say and hard to do. It means leading by example, ensuring the team have the required skills and resources and recognising excellence from others in building a deep knowledge of all aspects of key customer groups (‘personas’), their paths to purchase (‘customer journeys’) and the key points when marketers can influence the actions and decisions of customers (‘moments of truth’).

The Future Marketing Organisation study, conducted in partnership with marketing intelligence company MiQ, found 42.2% of marketers believe a customer-centric model is the right way to organise marketing, but this is in place at only 5.8% of respondents’ companies.

The leadership of the ideal Marketing Organisation also promotes a ‘change mindset,’ i.e. constant consideration of changes to ways of working, to best meet the constantly changing needs of customers. This requires constantly challenging existing ways of working, regularly trialling new ways of doing things, assessing and mitigating the risks of change and rapidly identifying and reapplying the learning from successes and failures.

FUTURE MARKETING ORGANISATION DESIGN: PEOPLE

The ideal Marketing Organisation has people with a combination of specialist ‘technical’ skills and an appreciation of broader ‘core’ marketing skills, so they can be effective when working alone and alongside colleagues from within the marketing department, as well as across other functions.

The investment in formal training of people in ideal Marketing Organisations is more than matched by the investment in self-learning and on-the-job learning, to ensure marketers have the knowledge and the ability to do and teach in their areas of technical skill and across the core marketing skills.

FUTURE MARKETING ORGANISATION DESIGN: PROCESS

The ideal Marketing Organisation has a clearly defined set of processes for its core capabilities (the core activities such as understanding customers, planning, creating content and serving content). These processes describe, for each step in the process, the inputs, actions, outputs and who is responsible. The processes enable effective and efficient working by providing clarity and consistency.

The ideal Marketing Organisation also has one, clearly defined way of working on the delivery of projects, some of which may become core capabilities, in whole or in part. This way of working is typically a methodology such as Agile, Scrum or Six Sigma, which when used appropriately will ensure projects deliver their desired outcomes on time and on budget to ensure success, or are revised or cancelled before they can fail.

FUTURE MARKETING TEAM ORGANISATION: STRUCTURE

The ideal Marketing Team structure shares a common reporting line with the sales team, as part of a combined commercial team. This is the most effective way of ensuring the efforts of sales and marketing are focused on the customer and aligned to winning at key moments of truth in the Customer Journey.

The key sub-teams within the ideal Marketing Organisation are defined by the work they do, including:

  • Customer Value Proposition: creating the offers for customers, including specific products and services, as well as any ‘master’ branding.
  • Content Creation: creating the communications content that will be served to customers.
  • Content Serving: serving content to customers in the right quantities, at the right price, in the right situations and at the right time.
  • Data and Insights: ensuring the availability of the right data and creating insights from that data in support of strategic and tactical planning.
  • Operations: ensuring marketing content is served to time and to budget.
  • Capabilities: ensuring the marketing team has the skills and resources necessary to excel.

FUTURE MARKETING ORGANISATION DESIGN: DATA

In an ideal Marketing Organisation there is a clear vision for how owned, purchased and shared data is used, what data is required and how that data is acquired.

In an ideal Marketing Organisation, all data sources are integrated, so the data can be analysed, insights identified, and hypotheses created from a variety of perspectives (e.g. what the data means for personas, customer journeys, moments of truth and the implications for the brand owner, retailers, resellers and other partners).

The data owned by and available to the ideal Marketing Organisation is integrated and easily accessible, meaning marketing team members have the skills and required permissions to use an online system that holds all the required data, with all the necessary functionality and a well-constructed user-interface.

FUTURE MARKETING ORGANISATION DESIGN: TECHNOLOGY

Ideal Marketing Organisations have and are working towards a target design for the full range of technologies they require (the ‘MarTech Ecosystem’) including:

  • Content Management Systems: to store and provide access to marketing communications materials.
  • Workflow Management Systems: to enable processes and approvals.
  • Customer Relationship Management Systems: to create and despatch personalised communications to customers.
  • Performance Media Systems: to book advertising space and to serve content to publishers.
  • Customer Data Systems: to capture personalised data about customers.
  • Data Reporting and Analysis Systems: to consolidate performance tracking information from multiple sources.

FUTURE MARKETING ORGANISATION DESIGN: AGENCY PARTNERS

External partners or agencies have an important role in the ideal Marketing Organisation Design, providing specialist capabilities that are better sourced externally than internally. The ideal Marketing Team design has a clear description of the desired ‘Agency Ecosystem’; what services are required from agency partners (the ‘scopes of work’); what the ideal mix of agency partners looks like and how agencies will be required to work together.

The ideal Marketing Organisation design also clearly describes how the Agency Ecosystem integrates into the work of the Marketing Team and is governed by contracts that ensure the client is not unreasonably dependent on the services or goodwill of any agency partner.

In summary, structure is one of 8 aspects of Marketing Organisation Design that will, if correctly specified and executed, ensure the Marketing Function fulfils its purpose. Implicit to any Marketing Organisation Design is the attitude that the design is always a work in progress and never complete, reflecting continuous changes in the shape and velocity of customer journeys.