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New look: the future of the marketing team

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As the future of advertising continues to engender debate, it’s time for the marketing department itself has to make changes. A tighter scrutiny of budgets,  a plethora of channels, the ongoing global-local centralised-dispersed discussions all miss a fundamental point – that the marketing department has not had a makeover for some time. So let’s consider what that new look marketing department should be and why forward-thinking businesses need to move towards it sooner rather than later.

1) The new look marketing team is built on three core traits, rather than traditional assignments:

Creativity: CEOs put creativity at the top of their strategic agenda. It should mean a return to creativity as the focus of in-house marketing teams. When teams are organised along channel lines, the mechanism can determine the treatment.

Agility: As development teams recognised the value of agile methodologies, the new marketing team makes agility a centrepiece if it is to support this creative focus. Without an agile approach there is still an obsession in ‘seeing the campaign’ out rather than adapting it to audience, to best-fit channel and to the market.

Technology: The concept of the marketing technologist is gaining traction. With more channels and more diversity, measurement and understanding is more critical than ever. In a recent mentoring session I was asked how we managed to measure marketing using traditional print media; but it illustrates that for every medium that is used, every channel that is driven, every region that is reached, there is another measurement challenge. Working out ways to automate, to move to transactional models and to be able to have ‘marketing mission control’ where everything is controlled, fine-tuned and redirected is vital. It also underpins the agile department.

2) It must be agency-agnostic: driven by provision of creative solutions to their specific requirements. Again creativity is at the forefront. The marketing team needs to  away from agency reliance. It needs to concentrate on finding the creative solutions that will drive the business. Enlightened CMOs are trying to bring creativity back into the team and delivery through the agency networks, reversing the relationship which has developed between many marketing heads and agencies in recent years. This isn’t to remove the creative talents of the agencies, but to recognise when creativity is drying up, and to look at alternative ways of thinking.

3)They generate demand and nurture early-stage leads: they don’t hurl leads over the sales fence. In the era of social marketing and social sales, understanding the profile of the potential purchaser means that it’s not just about making the contact: it’s about taking them to a decision point.

4)The CEO is a sponsor of marketing activities, not just a measurer. The CEO is interested in marketing. With the way that marketing teams have sent over messages that measurement is the thing they fear, it’s not surprising that the CEO has made that the focus. The new marketing strucure has the CEO not just as an overseer but as someone who can be the super-director.

5)Commercialisation. Consider how you would source marketing through your own marketing department. Why not look at them as a provider? Buy marketing from them. Lose the overhead and make them deliver to a commercial agenda.

6)If the department can be truly commercial, what’s to stop it becoming a spin-off, following the IT services spin-offs.Turn it into not just the in-house ‘agency’ but one that can compete externally.

7)Commoditisation. With the Creative Services Exchange providing a trading environment for the acquisition of creative services, the reative deliverables become increasingly commoditised. As such, there is a possibility that this transactional approach makes the purchase of creativity open to more buyers who would not traditionally have been the buyers of creative services. So now, rather than the sales director requesting marketing support, they can brief directly. If the in-house team has taken on the ‘agency’ role, then it can compete, but it is not the single source.

The new look marketing team needs to realise that it is no longer a species protected by an expensive creative agency bubble. It focuses on creativity, delivery and providing a measured service to the business. If you’re already working towards this efficient model, why not take the next step and submit a brief now?

7 Comments

  1. [...] More from Icerocket blogs: New look: the future of the marketing team [...]

    Pingback by New look: the future of the marketing team « Feeds « Theology of Ministry — July 29, 2011 @ 6:20 pm

  2. Marketing in the future is going to look drastically different in one fundamental way.
    Consumers will take control of the marketing they see. 

    Instead of marketers guessing what consumers want with behavioral targeting the consumer will be given the tools to “self-target” so they only see and hear the things they want to see and hear.

    The “Everyone in the company is a marketer” line from Mckinsey is unfortunately a 20th century answer to a 21st century question.

    The disruptive 21st century answer, the right answer, to this question is…”The customer is now your marketing dept.”

    Give consumers full access to a consumer controlled personalization and filtering tool and let them self-design and continuously tweak and manage a personalized software agent that automatically delivers them the right products and services at the right time in a way that meets their budget and preferences.

    For companies that do this, profits will follow.Marketing/Advertising will no longer be about guessing what people want and blasting the world with spaghettis and seeing what sticks. 

    It will be about letting consumers engage with a system that designs a custom “things I might like right now.” feed where they get to turn the dials and knobs to tune up that engine to really always get what they want and need.

    What will be left to the marketing professional is helping business create the right products and services for market trends coming out of the personalization filter data and helping consumers design their SW agents to really get what they want.

    There will still also be strategic branding work for marketers to generate interest that convinces me to allow a given brand into my personalization filter in a positive way.

    So in reality a lot more exciting work for marketing pros. 

    But they will all have to let go of the “MadMen” model of 20th century marketing/advertising where they were in control and the consumer was just a passive, dumb target to be sprayed with information.

    Comment by Roger Toennis — August 7, 2011 @ 11:20 pm

  3. Whilst there's some merit in this view, it makes the error made by many agencies, i.e. demonstrating a lack of understanding of what the client role really involves (product strategy and development, marketing strategy, consumer understanding/retention, stakeholder management to name but a few) and focuses only on the 'comms'.

    Comment by Sam Bridger — August 8, 2011 @ 8:42 am

  4. [...] Reducing spend doesn’t ever have to mean a reduction in creativity. The whole premise of guerilla marketing and its continuing success shows that great marketing doesn’t have to be accompanied by enormous outgoings. However, when you have to do more with less, you have to make sure that you’re getting real value – and that value turns into real results. So it has to be of the highest quality, originality and creativity. And, as the aforementioned report makes very clear: it’s vital to exploit all channels and avoid Random Acts of Marketing. Another reason to evaluate the structure of your marketing team. [...]

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  5. [...] the ‘special’ project arrives. Not the projects that are always up the sleeve of the marketing team –  the extra creative option, the new idea, the new approach, but the requests that arrive from a [...]

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  6. [...] who are innovators and strategists, the people who see the why rather than the how, to make their team successful.  But implementation is still important. And so the classic dilemma arises, [...]

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  7. [...] but about the way it’s bought. We’ve talked before about how decisions are made in marketing that may not have the same scrutiny as other outsourcing choices. Quite simply, when it’s [...]

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