Reinventing marketing – organizing for success

by Abhik Sengupta

by Justine Tabone

In our last blog, we explored how the role of marketing has evolved over the last 30 years, driven by rapid digital innovation. Today, COVID-19 has further spurred the need for change, leaving many organizations with no other choice but to move. New capabilities are required to make the shift from mono- to multi- and then omni-channel, ensuring sustainable value can be delivered to customers. Here we will explore how marketing should be organized at each stage of the journey, and the skills and behaviors needed for this function to thrive in the new world.

When considering marketing operating model redesign, leaders must first decide what level of omni-channel maturity is desired. The choice will be determined by:

1) Organizational Strategy – What is the brand promise we must deliver on?
2) Customer Preferences – Do our customers want / expect full personalization?
3) Cost-Effectiveness – Can we optimize our cost-to-serve and sell by building omni-channel capabilities?
 
Once this aspiration has been set, the evolution of marketing structures can follow.

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Mono-Channel Engagement

Under a mono-channel engagement strategy, sales act as custodians of the customer, supported by product-aligned marketing teams. This foundational configuration is typically seen in simpler brand environments where both functional expertise and scale are required. In regional or global businesses, this is replicated across geographies, often forming a matrix operating environment with clear hierarchies.
 
For teams to execute well under this model, marketing needs more generalist skill sets, and deep product knowledge. Customer and buyer understanding often resides with the sales teams, with marketing being brought in to support as required. For both functions, values-based decision making is critical in order for activities to be executed in the customer and organization’s best interests. Cross-functional collaboration is important, but relatively simple, with clear roles and goals across the business.
 
Pivot One – Multi-Channel Engagement

With the introduction of new channels, the structure of a mono-channel world is no longer fit for purpose. This more evolved configuration is found when multiple segments have different needs and a broader range of products and services are delivered through various face-to-face and digital means. The most efficient way to weave these new dimensions into the organization, is for segment owners to lead the customer strategy, with leverage provided by internal CoEs and external partners to successfully deliver propositions through multiple channels.
 
In this mode, the need for specialization rises, with new roles introduced for Content, Marketing Automation and Digital Execution e.g. social, web, UX, search. Responsibility for collecting, interpreting, and acting on customer research can either remain close to the segment leads, or be centralized to deliver scaled innovation and link to strategy. With increased activity happening across more channels, Marketing Operations is introduced to act as ‘air traffic control’ and ensure activity is consistent and coordinated.
 
These changes demand the maturation of new skills and behaviors, inclusive of both specialists and generalist marketers. As the role of marketing shifts from partnering with, to orchestrating sales – cross-functional collaboration becomes more critical. Sales teams must learn to trust their counterparts to own more of the customer interaction. Marketers need to build competence in interpreting digital signals and translate engagement data into insight and commercial action. Focus must shift from push-based activities, to supporting customer journey progression by providing relevant and compelling content and experiences at each stage.


In a recent example of this first pivot, a Regional Pharmaceutical company were in the early stages of leveraging digital. They had mixed success, through experimentation with tech platforms, new channels and campaign approaches, along with the development of engagement insights for their Health Care Practitioner (HCP) customers. Initially, the response was to double-down on technology and data innovation based on best-in-class technology platforms.
 
However, when mobilizing within each country, it quickly became apparent that there were some organizational barriers to transformation. The regions quickly shifted focus to a less ambitious multi-channel interim state. Effective implementation across digital touchpoints became the priority, combined with more targeted content generation. The data architecture and governance was clarified and established at the regional and country level, and a new cross-functional rhythm enabled marketing, sales and medical to work together more effectively. While the net result was less ambitious than first envisioned, there was a step change in multi-channel maturity and HCP experience.

Pivot Two – Omni-Channel Experiences

The pivot to omni-channel sees the introduction of capabilities that support differentiation, based on CX and personalization at scale. The organizing structure shifts from being segment and channel-aligned, to customer journey aligned – with agile cross-functional teams collaborating to deliver uplifted experiences at the moments that matter most. This sophisticated configuration brings significantly more speed and customer benefit. However, it can be more complex to implement as considerable change is required in mindsets and ways of working. Most importantly, there needs to be guardrails around decision making and feedback loops on customer experience and commercial effectiveness.
 
In addition to the new roles needed in the multi-channel context, more specialist expertise is introduced, including Data and Analytics, along with Marketing Optimization. Tasked with keenly watching performance in real-time, they work to adjust activities and shift budget more flexibly to amplify what is working. As the marketing technology stack becomes more complex, product owners and agile skill sets such as scrum masters and agile coaches, are important to bring the right team members together to rapidly deploy, test and iterate impactful digital experiences.
 
Under the journey-based model of operating, marketers are required to further evolve their skills and behaviors. Cross-functional collaboration occurs through agile delivery, with mindsets shifting to doing fewer things, better. The planning cycle also becomes more dynamic with plans adapted more frequently in response to the changing internal and external environment – all whilst keeping firmly focused on optimising the customer experience.
 
An example that comes to mind is a Consumer Packaged Goods company in Asia, who were looking to move away from a traditional B2B2C retail distribution model, towards an omni-channel strategy that includes digital direct-to-consumer, as well as via channel partners. The upcoming launch of a category re-defining new product, provided a perfect opportunity to test the new go-to-market approach. An agile team was assembled, external partners selected and internal CoE’s mobilized.
 
Speed to market of this launch was significantly reduced from months to weeks, due to a decrease in internal meetings and reprioritized activities based on real-time consumer feedback. The typically top-down command and control culture had to change with teams empowered to make decisions, raise concerns, and respond to new information. The success of this approach has inspired them to extend this way of working across the organization.
 
Key Takeaways

There is no one-size-fits all approach to marketing operating model evolution. The best path will be market and industry dependent, coupled with customer and organizational nuances. Leaders must first decide their omni-channel aspiration, prioritize the capabilities that will enable this, and organize the change based on efficiency and effectiveness.
 
Structure and organization are only half the story. Ensuring you have the right mix of generalist and specialist skills, and equipping all marketers with new mindsets and behaviors, is essential to fulfilling the customer and commercial advantage that omni-channel execution promises.

For deeper insights on resetting your organisational strategy and go-to-market model to meet elevated customer expectations, download our whitepaper.