Modernizing For An Outdated Marketing Department – Part 1
Jan 15, 2015
Digital Transformation is a giant subject with giant implications these days. It’s about transforming a company to meet the responsibilities and opportunities that digital brings to change. It’s also a colossal undertaking that companies, and their consultants get right, about 20%-25% of the time. Yes, over 3/4 of transformation attempts fail. We believe this is due, in part, to both the caliber and the nature of the change undertaken. Imagine if there was a lighter, more precise version of the archetypical digital transformation (think arthroscopic surgery as opposed to traditional cutting open the body) that would allow a smaller chain of successes with less risk, fewer moving parts and opportunities for quicker wins. All while the organization is gaining critical ground in the never-ending race to change. This lighter, more precise version of the much more colossal digital transformation juggernaut is what we at Centerline Digital call, Marketing Modernization.
In a series of three articles, we will talk about marketing modernization, why it is necessary, what it is, specifically, and how to modernize your marketing department to best fit your company and its mission.
This first article explains the dimensions at play for why modernization is needed—and why you should care. The second we will examine more specifically, the characteristics of modernization. And article three will lay out the steps needed to make this a reality in your organization.
So, where does marketing modernization come from and why should we care about it? It’s not always all about the digital side of the business, but digital is typically where an organizations’s needs are most pronounced and evident. In this post, we’ll focus mostly on the digital side of modernization.
First, let’s look at an example of a company in the midst of modernizing their marketing. Company M is a $1.5 billion electronics manufacturing company headquartered in Massachusetts with around 8,000 employees in 20 countries globally. They were founded 30 years ago by 5 MIT classmates, all engineers. Two remain at the helm today. They have always focused on their products assuming that “good products sell themselves.” Over the course of the last decade they have realized their protracted stagnation in revenue was due, in significant part, to a lack of focus on marketing—or at the very least, too much focus on granular product marketing. After deeper exploration, they realized they had a four mission-critical marketing challenges to address:
They hadn’t paid enough attention to top of the funnel awareness activities to grow net new customers. The decision-makers hadn’t believed this was a priority if the products were good enough to sell themselves. They weren’t using content and data in ways to increase their awareness in a measurable way.
They weren’t focused on the CUSTOMER’s omni-channel experiences. Despite a competent digital team of 60, their website wasn’t looked at as a “serious” sales or marketing channel because 98% of revenues had come from the work of sales people developing relationships. This illustrated a bias. 98% of revenue coming historically from salespeople was the consequence of having no other viable channels (e.g. a functional website enabling positive user experiences.)
Their internal digital group didn’t have the respect or authority to prioritize the digital projects that had the greatest impact on the business. They were thought of as a service-oriented cost center whose responsibility it was to fulfill the demands of the business, not as a strategic profit center with impact on the business’ top or bottom line. As it turns out, digital had the opportunity to open up an entirely new customer segments that traditional sales had overlooked.
The people responsible for web content were silo’d into four different groups, often in different buildings—even different continents creating a palpable disconnect in how their messages were/were not being received. Those responsible for applying content from these disparate sources to the web experienced stifling process friction and on top of an ongoing lack of prioritization clarity.
Addressing these four areas of Company M’s marketing and organizational structure are how they are confronting what Deloitte Consulting’s John Hagel’s has termed the new normal; that pinch feeling he calls “The Big Shift.” Here at Centerline Digital, addressing these challenges and shifts is what we call Marketing Modernization.
Marketing modernization is helping Company M address and overcome these challenges (measured awareness, new focus on customer experience, organizational structure and process/prioritization re-alignment).
Let’s take a step back and look at the dynamics at play that are forcing marketing departments to face these challenges head on. Worldwide, we are seeing marketing departments experience the greatest shift in the history of marketing departments. And by the looks of it, feeling pinched by this shift is the new normal.
John Hagel puts it this way: “At the highest level, we would characterize the Big Shift as moving from a world of push to a world of pull. In other words, given the growing uncertainty in the world around us, we must master a new set of techniques required to access, attract and accumulate resources to unleash peer based learning in far more flexible ways than conventional push programs permit.” He’s talking about business at the highest level with marketing being a central component.
This is a monumental shift which, to many, feels like an unending crushing sensation full of uncertainty, too many complicated moving parts and a force that requires a whole new range of thinking from many different people in different areas of the company.
To be a bit more precise, the shift is really several marketing and technology dimensions all intersecting at the same point. Below, we list the key dimensions we run into most often. They are likely realities that are happening to your organization or will soon happen to your organization if you’re not already ahead of them.
Technology is accelerating competitive forces faster than anyone could predict—more companies are finding stronger advantages quicker by focusing on delivering value according to customer expectations.
In terms of marketing, content is now the tip of the spear and its quality is often the deal maker/breaker—more companies are telling more powerful and relevant stories that interest more of their customers. Getting the best stories planned and told at scale is a tremendous challenge.
The efficacy of the above-mentioned stories are becoming logarithmically more measurable making it possible to turn on a dime and change campaign directions instantaneously. This is allowing new upstarts to disrupt incumbents—seemingly overnight.
Data accessibility (customer satisfaction, for example) is exposing more meaningful insights, which in turn, is exposing many organization’s lack of agility which consequently makes leadership feel overwhelmed.
Everyone you anticipated buying your product is now wondering why they can’t transact with you as quickly and easily as they can with Amazon, using their phone on Sunday at midnight.
The second someone is less than ecstatic about your product or service and they have immediate access to giant platforms and really powerful megaphones to share their less-than-perfect experiences.
Localization cannot happen fast or wide enough.
Data security across all channels is now more imperative than ever and is exposing your vulnerabilities more clearly than you had ever anticipated.
The challenge of on-boarding talent that can weave all these concerns together into one, unified strategic framework is harder than ever to attract, bring on board and assimilate.
Once reliable management approaches that got your company this far are no longer fit to get you to the next level.
In our work, we have seen effective ways of working with client uncertainty and overcoming these challenges in surprisingly non-invasive ways. We have worked with a handful of companies that we characterize as having modern marketing departments, like GE and IBM for example.
What’s different about these companies is that they were able to foresee the big shift coming and their marketing departments are now structured to overcome and thrive within the reality of uncertainty. There is something about each of them that is obviously unique but we’ve noticed there are also a handful of characteristics that seem to show up in predictable patterns.
We have identified the key characteristics of modern marketing organizations (we’ll be sharing in the next post) that can hopefully help you see the signs and make the shift with minimal friction.
Stay tuned for our next blog post where we will dive into the characteristics and provide the beginning steps of this new reality and how you can best get it under control.
Learn more about the Marketing Change Management group