Marketing leader: still struggling with the reality that you’re no longer in control of your brand? Get over it. It’s time to further loosen the reins on your Type A personality. Our speedy, hyper-connected world dictates that it’s time to give up control of your marketing organization, too.
I don’t mean to give up responsibility, but control. There’s a big difference between being in control and being in charge.
The highly-structured, siloed marketing organization developed in the pre-internet “spray and pray” era of mass, one-way communication doesn’t deliver results in today’s fast, open, relationship-oriented environment. It’s too slow. It’s too inauthentic. Its goals are misguided. But most CMOs are still trying to teach that old organizational dog marketing’s new tricks. As a result, they’re seeing their teams working harder than ever, customers not “obeying,” and executives still whining.
If you manage your marketing team like a dynamic organism rather than a static structure, you’ll begin to see the high-performing differences you’re looking for. An organism continuously grows, adapts, morphs, creates, and interacts synergistically with its environment. A modern, effective marketing organism is fast, focused, fused to its stakeholders, and ensures that it, and the company it represents, flourishes.
Here are a few tips to help you achieve this new “dynamic difference” with your marketing team.
Be Fast: the frenetic pace of information flows and consumer action means marketing teams have to develop, execute and improve programs faster than ever. Whether a team member is focused on creating buzz and awareness or nurturing prospects through the sales funnel, yesterday isn’t soon enough.
Achieving the dynamic difference for speed:
· Organize your team leaders by marketing goal (awareness, pipeline, etc.), rather than function (PR, events, website, etc.), and have them oversee and influence cross-functional teams.
· Ensure their objectives are specific (add 1000 new finance professionals to the CRM) rather than generic (database marketing).
· Spread authority throughout your organization: Write guidelines for how far to push limits and take risks, not strict rules of process and conformity. Think of it as outlining a sandbox in which your team can play any way they want to achieve their goals, as long as they stay within your boundaries.
Be Focused: There are 2 challenges for marketing teams here. First, distractions in the form of shiny new technologies, endless feeds from social networks, and other deluges of seductive info, mean marketers are constantly being drawn away from what’s expected from them. Secondly, metrics, ironically, are distracting marketers, too. Marketers can measure nearly anything now, and get so caught up in optimizing for tactical metrics that they forget the bigger goals for which marketing’s on the hook.
Achieving the dynamic difference for prioritization:
· Ensure every team member has goals that bubble up to fulfilling the CMO’s goals (which, in turn, should directly fulfill the company’s business goals). Goals should be outcomes, not actions.
· Continually review what’s on your team’s plate. Some marketing leaders are beginning to do this daily – checking in on everyone’s priorities and readjusting as necessary.
· Assign priorities to projects – either A, B, C or a numerical value or “points” – so that when tough tradeoffs need to be made, you quickly know where to start, and it’s transparent to all.
Be Fused to stakeholders: No marketer is an island. Marketers are at the core of a rich biosphere of employees, vendors, influencers, prospects, customers, detractors and more. Old org structures aren’t equipped to tap into or leverage this rich environment. You need to put more than just your direct reports to work to outshine your competition and draw more and more people into your company’s sphere of influence.
Achieving the dynamic difference for influential connections:
· Customers: These are the stakeholders of all stakeholders. Make it the job of everyone on your team to put customers (and potential customers) first always, make decisions that ensure they perceive more value from your company, and engage with them personally. And make it very, very easy for customers to spread the good word to your prospects.
· Employees: Social media has made everyone within a company a publisher, an influencer, a marketer. Don’t try to control or limit what fellow employees say, but actively feed them on-message content to share, and teach them the guidelines of your social media sandbox.
· Agencies and vendors: Demands for rapid time-to-market coupled with tighter resources and global scale, has created a different relationship with vendors – a preference for a larger number of more specialized agencies and other marketing support vendors (vs one big “vendor of choice”). Engage them as if they are team members. They need to have more autonomy if they are to be responsive and effective enough.
Flourish: Organisms self-regulate to ensure their own growth. With marketing, flourishing is the growth and expansion of sales, customer evangelism, pipeline, profits, awareness, and more. But first, it’s about ensuring the marketing organization itself is thriving, so that it continuously improves. The marketing leader’s goal is to create an open environment for this self-regulating flourishing to happen.
Achieving the dynamic difference to flourish:
· As with Open Source Software, where developers leave code for others to use and collaboratively evolve, create core marketing templates that other business units can geographies adapt for their best results
· Fail fast so you can fix and iterate. Make it your culture to test and refine – not wait for elusive perfection before launching a program.
· Open the communication paths and relationships within your team. No excuses, only solutions, allowed. Results are the arbitrator of any disagreement.
Marketing leaders, your job is to create the ideal environment for your dynamic organism and surrounding biosphere. This will ensure a high-performing team that can to make great things happen for your company and your customers.