In previous posts I have discussed both the workplace of the future and the workforce of the future. But what will the marketing department of the future look like? What qualities will it need to succeed?
A recent study set out to answer these questions, and “to understand what separates the strategies and structures of superior marketing organizations from the rest.” The study, Marketing2020, was initiated by EffectiveBrands (now Millward Brown Vermeer) in partnership with the Association of National Advertisers, the World Federation of Advertisers, Spencer Stuart, Forbes, MetrixLab, and Adobe. It included in-depth interviews with over 350 CEOs, CMOs, and agency heads; over a dozen CMO roundtables; and online surveys of over 10,000 marketers from 92 countries.
Survey findings revealed several main drivers to organizational effectiveness in marketing (see below). In a recent Harvard Business Review article, the authors (including Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever and chairman of the study’s advisory board) stressed the importance of piecing each of these drivers together, with the additional goal of perfecting each individual capability.
Connect: Make it a priority to link marketing to the rest of the organization. High performers not only align their marketing department’s activities with company strategy, they actively engage in creating it. According to Marketing2020 surveys, “From 2006 to 2013…marketing’s influence on strategy development increased by 20 percentage points. And when marketing demonstrates that it is fighting for the same business objectives as its peers, trust and communication strengthen across all functions and, as we shall see, enable the collaboration required for high performance.” Companies can also foster connections by putting marketing and other functions under a single leader (e.g., Keith Weed leads communications and sustainability – as well as marketing – at Unilever).
Inspire: Engage every level of the organization with brand purpose. Create powerful programs and messages that make employees want to be part of a successful team. Marketing has gone holistic, and the brand’s image affects everyone associated with it. All employees, from call center representatives to salespeople, must be on board with the same vision to make it work and communicate it effectively.
Focus: Have team members concentrate on the main priorities and overall strategy. With global expansion in particular, marketing activities are prone to get scattered. The top performing companies from the survey widely agreed: make sure your local marketers understand the global strategy, and global marketing understands the local marketing reality.
Organize for Agility: The research showed that organizational structure, roles, and processes are among the toughest challenges. For example, campaigns that used to take weeks or months to put together may now need to be created on the spot should circumstances arise – be it for damage control, or a groundbreaking announcement. Roles and teams must be highly flexible and talent should be plucked by leaders on an as-needed basis for individual projects.
Build and Grow: Continuously build internal capabilities and your vision will come to fruition organically. Invest in internal marketing initiatives to create a single marketing language for employees. Engage all in the working process. For example, if some employees need to get up to speed on technology, pair them with those who can teach them. Even CEOs should polish their skills regularly. Invest in proper yearly training (about two days of proper training by outside experts).
Finally, why Steve Jobs as the image? Well, love him or loathe him, he used all these drivers and was probably the most effective marketer of the past 20 years.