July 16, 2012

It Goes Both Ways

Marketers want to be invited into the strategic planning and cap-ex hallowed halls within their own organizations, and with good reason. Being involved in customer-focused efforts across the business demonstrates Marketing’s ability to manage the customer touch points and experience.   However, Marketers, in deep focus on the brand, have given away some of their power to in areas where strategic transformation is needed.  That leaves Marketing left outside the boardroom.

Simply put, we cannot continue to want it both ways.  Marketers have to own more than promotion. Marketers don’t want to be thought of as the mugs and t-shirt department (by their own companies). With marketing needing to focus on effective interactions, organizational alignment, improving productivity and using analytics to make better decisions; an evolved way to conduct marketing business is clearly required.

Instead, to be involved in the entire customer experience/engagement strategy, they should embrace the approaches of departments with direct and measurable effects and apply those to their customer interactions and media approaches. Departments like R&D, production or customer service have created disciplined operational approaches that can be used.  Importantly, these methods are already familiar to executives  – when Marketing uses these, it makes it easy for executive to extract knowledge and make decisions.  Each disciplined approach embodies a group of principles that Marketing can use to show the entire company that they have a plan, a method and a transparent path to the results along the way.

Get started by using operational strategy principles that are used and proven across the organization.  An added benefit is that Marketing will also be speaking in languages others in the organization directly understand – without translation.  These quick wins can showcase immediate results as well as long term operational goal delivery.





Production Lean Expending only resources that create value for the end customer. Only build higher value campaigns – better qualify what you’re doing upfront. Pipeline and vet ideas, define the best ways to test new ideas.  Define a very tight workflow and remove waste at all points.  Use governance, skunkwork and blue/red teams to help manage the ideas, content and innovative methods to execute value.
Production JIT or Kanban Deep process based concepts that focus on reducing inventory and carrying costs to maximize overall ROI. The processes created are very tightly managed. Areas like flow, resource and quality are heavily considered. Process, Process, Process! Marketing should take on the mindset that detailed processes be defined and automated. Once your process is in marketing production – run reports and evaluate its efficiency, then improve upon it. Your team’s time and resources is a valuable commodity. Document your streamlined processes to allow your team to be effective and efficient.  Use newly freed time to innovate marketing and develop engaging customer experiences. Read our whitepaper on how to get marketing resource management right.
All Six Sigma This is also a process based principle, but within the concept of identifying and creating processes for the purpose of quality management, this principle employs building resource experts thru “belting” (black belts, green belts, etc) Marketing should use the “belting” principles within Six Sigma. We have built a Mastery Model that allows for marketing teams to understand the skill sets needed for them to excel, badges around those skill sets and then education plans to achieve those badges. Having this in place is an excellent way to build your resources and also have a framework for employees to benchmark themselves and for managers to evaluate their teams.
Accounting Revenue Recognition Determines an accounting period in which revenue and expenses are recognized within it. This seems to be the area that most marketing departments struggle with – how to attribute cost and attribute success. The general problem that I see is that marketers are unwilling to put together a set of reporting principles to guide themselves – they are always considering the exception rather than having a set of rules. There will always be an exception and those dynamics always change – however if you have a set of reporting principles, then there is a level of commonality across programs and projects.

There are marketing departments that are proactive and building marketing innovation in their organizations. Marketing innovation is different than innovative marketing.  The latter can be construed as a cool campaign, an evolutionary use of a channel.  However, Marketing innovation is disruptive, it solves customer problems in a way a cool campaign does not.  In order to address innovation, Marketers need to get beyond creative, promotion and even pricing.

In my experience, Marketers have a solid creative, production and reporting process all in place. Once marketing departments deploy production and accounting based strategies (and automate them) they can expect their teams have more time to not only execute their plans, but deliver better user engagement, improved customer insight and actionable customer innovation. As that information is shared across the entire company marketing will not only be invited to the strategic meetings, but will have real value to share.

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