What Type of Marketing Organization Are You?

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I recently ran across an excellent article in “strategy+business” (an online and hard copy magazine devoted to strategy issues) that shed some interesting light on a very important marketing issue.

The article, entitled “Six Types of Marketing Organizations: Where Do You Fit In”, is based on a study by Booz Allen Hamilton and the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) that identified six basic types of “marketing organizations” within companies. I found it to be a fascinating and insightful look at the importance of making sure the marketing function aligns with what the business really needs.

According to the article, the six types of marketing “organizations” (i.e. the marketing people, systems and processes inside a business and the activities they perform) are as follows:

1. Growth Champion. Marketing drives strategy at the senior level and plays a major role in generating revenue and leading new product and business development.

2. Senior Counselor. Although still functioning at the strategic level, marketing serves as more of an advisor to the CEO than a formulator of company-wide strategy.

3. Brand Foreman. Functioning in a more of tactical role, marketing focuses on providing various services to support the company’s brands. This can include developing communications strategies and creative initiatives, as well as campaign execution.

4. Growth Facilitator. Similar to the growth champion, except here marketing mainly supports other major functions rather than initiating and leading strategy on its own.

5. Best Practices Advisor. Marketing serves as more of a tactical weapon whose primary purpose is to help each business unit achieve maximum effectiveness in their marketing efforts.

6. Service Provider. Marketing acts much like an outside vendor, providing advertising, promotions, public relations and other marketing services to the company’s business units and product teams as needed.

The danger, warns the article, is that most marketing organizations believe they cover all these functions, when in fact they actually perform only one. As a result, there is often a major disconnect between what the business needs from the marketing function and what it actually gets.

The key to resolving this dilemma lies in answering three critical questions:

1. What type of marketing organization currently exists in your company?

2. What type of marketing organization needs to exist in your company (based on your strategic goals, value proposition and the future direction of your business)?

3. How do you properly align the marketing team so that #1 and #2 are the same?

A Simple Test

What I really liked about the article was that it included a link to the Booz Allen/ANA Marketing Profiler, a short questionnaire that identifies your marketing organization’s current profile and offers recommendations for your moving your marketing organization closer to where it needs to be. In addition, the profiler offers resources and readings (based upon your profile) to help formulate the proper strategy for this “migration path.”

I took the profiler for Townsend, Inc., and found it to be quite accurate (we came out as “Growth Champions”) in its assessment of our current marketing function. More important, the recommendations offered to improve our marketing organization were dead on. They helped focus my thinking in several important areas and reinforced a couple of initiatives we have recently begun. For example:

* Recommendation: Develop metrics and decision tools (such as marketing ROI) to measure the performance of individual products, channels and segments.

* Lesson learned: At Townsend, we need to do a better job of measuring our marketing ROI. We have already started down that road by shifting primarily to direct marketing and Internet marketing, which should make it easier for us to track and measure results.

* Recommendation: Don’t keep all decision-making authority at the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) level. Instead, allocate these “decision rights” to appropriate levels of the organization to ensure accurate, rapid and continuous responses to service requests

* Lesson learned: This was a good reminder that we need to get our internal teams more involved in the marketing process so they can help select where we prospect and ensure that we generate the right kinds of clients for Townsend.

* Recommendation: Make sure your capabilities are properly aligned with both the marketing agenda and the CEO’s priorities. Understand exactly what skills are required in individual areas.

* Lesson learned: If we’re going to market through the Internet, we need to build internal Web-based marketing skills as quickly as possible.

* Recommendation: Involve other organizational areas (operations, product development, finance, sales) early in the process of making marketing investments

* Lesson learned: Again, a good reminder to get our internal teams more involved in how we market as an organization.

The Rise of Samsung

It might be easy to dismiss this kind of assessment as an interesting but not especially valuable exercise. Before doing so, however, consider what assessing their marketing organization did for Samsung.

According to the “strategy+business” article, Eric Kim took over as vice president of global marketing for Samsung in 1999, just as the company embarked on a new strategy to go from “a low-cost producer of electronics, sold primarily under the brand names of its OEM customers, to a manufacturer of high-end digital products.” This represented a huge and very difficult shift for the company, one that could lead to failure on a massive scale if all the proper elements were not in place.

Upon analyzing the skills, structure and core competencies of his marketing organization, Kim quickly realized they did not align with the new direction. He then spent five years reworking Samsung’s entire marketing organization so that it more closely matched the firm’s newly identified needs.

The result?

Last year, Samsung became the world’s 21st most valuable brand (according to the Business Week/Interbrand 2004 rankings), only one spot behind the vaunted Japanese electronics giant, Sony. While many factors contributed to this meteoric rise, developing the right kind of marketing organization clearly played a major role in elevating Samsung to its current position as one of the world’s elite brands.

So — what kind of marketing organization do you have? And more important, does it deliver what your organization needs?

To find out, take the Booz Allen/ANA Marketing Profiler. I also recommend reading the article to get a full understanding of the concepts involved. You may discover that you’re marketing organization is right on track with where it needs to be. Or you may find out that you’re trying to pound a round peg into a square hole.

Either way, my guess is you’ll find it time well spent.

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