Friday, June 20, 2014

A Dynamic Approach to Structuring Marketing Teams

Consumer behaviour and how we communicate has changed. In response, business leaders are reshaping marketing teams. In this period of adjustment, ambiguity around the role of marketing is growing as various structural models are being trialled.

"People shop and learn in a whole new way compared to just a few years ago, so marketers need to adapt or risk extinction." 
Quote Brian Halligan, CEO Hubspot.

There are various views and expectations around how marketing teams should operate and what they are responsible for. The mix of competencies required and structural fit is up for debate. 

Emerging areas of expertise, big data analytics and socialisation of communications requires new competencies. While marketing effectiveness becomes more and more interwoven with technology, the structural frameworks are still evolving.

Consider just a few areas of thought impacting the structural design of a marketing team. Considerations such as:

- Should digital and social media expertise be integrated into existing roles or defined as a specialised skill set?
- Do the skill sets sit in an area of marketing excellence or in other functional areas within the business?
- Are marketing services shared or divisionalised?
- Where does expertise for communications, marketing technology and creative services sit?
- What does the term Marketing mean within the business relative to Sales and Corporate functions?

There is clearly a need to adapt quickly and be flexible in determining the most effective structure. The challenge being to ensure that the rest of the business is clear about the model 'in play.'

Roles are emerging within marketing with newly created titles and areas of focus. These roles come and go, and are distinct from the expected disciplines. The result is  that marketing is perceived as an area of unrest, always chasing the latest fade rather then making a proven contribution. A real problem for positioning the area in the short term. 

Also, within organisations the need for effective communications and design is required by a range of departments. Skill sets that were once the exclusive domain of marketing are in high demand across organisations. This can lead to resources being distracted from an external focus and being over stretched. Diluting the effectiveness and single minded focus of marketing teams.

Initiatives such as employee branding, talent acquisition campaigns, corporate issue management via social channels, internal social network building, influencer blogging, on-line content generation - all require talents that traditionally sit in marketing areas. Structural considerations need to recognise this trend and dynamic.

Marketing leaders must be quick adaptors and comfortable with structural 'trial and error' to achieve optimal team performance. Bringing other parts of the organisation into the loop as the group reinvents itself is necessary to overcome the ambiguity created by change.

Marketing skills are needed more than ever across business disciplines to improve communications and implement creative solutions. This high internal demand requires a structural model that enables a balance between creative service expertise and 'go to market' initiative.

This all results in the credibility of marketing being under question - adapt or become extinct. Marketing leaders therefore need to focus on clearly articulating their vision,  what they do and don't do, and how this will deliver on the business plan.

Marketing groups that can not adjust, reinvent themselves with a clear vision of success, and structure with a purpose (even if this changes often) will lose organisational effectiveness. 

It seems crazy to be asking ourselves What is Marketing? 

What's your biggest challenge in building credibility for the marketing function? 

What lessons have you learnt in trialling new structural models?

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