Great Marketing Technology Cannot Succeed Without Great Strategy

What is old is new again, as always. The cover story of the July-August Harvard Business Review proclaims the advent of “The New Marketing Organization.” The article is based on tens of thousands of hours of interviews with chief marketing officers (CMOs) and marketing leaders around the world, and supported by a long list of venerated people, associations, and companies. It’s definitely worth a read.

What they basically say, though, is that strategy and focus matter in business and marketing, and that no amount of cool technology or integrated systems or big or small data is going to make a bit of difference if your teams are not aligned to the same goals and your strategy and brand promise resonate with key audiences. No kidding. Great marketing automation technology without great strategy will just speed your failure, not protect you from loss.

The article emphasizes something near and dear to me, which is that experience is where it’s at. The authors claim that the key marketing metric will change from “share of wallet” or “share of voice” to “share of experience.” I’d certainly like to see that happen. Marketing automation solutions are built around this central view of the customer, and creating those custom, individualized interactions which add up to a total experience.

I think it was David Packard who said that marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department. The article agrees – in that marketing is now the responsibility of the entire organization, and indeed, even customers themselves participate in it. The article outlines an “Orchestration” model for marketing departments – where employees are grouped around taskforces that are “doing” (content and production), “thinking” (data and analytics), and “feeling” (consumer engagement) in close collaboration with other resources around the organization. In this model, people contribute to different aspects of the work. That means your content marketing people get involved in automation, just as the operations people get involved in social influence. They cite some examples of CMOs that have IT or HR reporting to them – which is a very compelling model for rapid innovation. It’s a very nice idea, but I think very hard to implement. For too many of us, our unfocused organization structure and lack of common goals puts the “fun” in dysfunctional.

Modern marketing is much more complicated than in the past. The amount of data, the consumer participation with that data, and the pace of digital interaction have blown away any remnants of the moderately paced, gin-soaked ideation approach of the Mad Men era. It’s not just the marketing organization that has had to change – it’s the marketers themselves. We are all now BOTH the creative Mad Men and the analytic “Math Men” (and women).

What the HBR study found is that companies who are over-performing are doing some key activities much better than the underperforming companies.

  1. Use of Data Distinguishes the Leading Brands. 52 percent of the over-performers said their organization leverages all data and analytics to improve marketing effectiveness. Only 35 percent of the underperformers do.
  2. Purpose-Based Positioning Boosts Sales. 56 percent of the over-performers said that their organization’s revenue growth was higher than competitors. 46 percent of the under-performers’ revenue is higher. 
  3. Connecting to Corporate Strategy. 52 percent of the over-performers said that their organization marketing is regarded as a strategic partner for business growth, while 38 percent of the under-performers agreed.
  4. Inspiring Workers to Get Results. 61 percent of the over-performers said their company ensures that all employees fully engage in the brand purpose, while 46 percent of the under-performers do.
  5. Focusing on the Right Metrics. 67 percent of the over-performers said their brand’s key performance indicates are clearly linked to overall business performance. 47 percent of the under-performers’ key performance indicators (KPIs) are linked. 
  6. Building Needed Capabilities. 45 percent of the over-performers said their organization training program was tailored to the specific needs of their business. Only 26 percent of the under-performers have this.

Where do you think your marketing organization falls in this range? Please leave comments on these concepts or on other aspects of the HBR article below.

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