Monday, June 26, 2006

Causes of Marketing Misalignment

Marketing carries with it a lot more challenges today than it did even five years ago. Many internal and external forces work to undermine the prospects of marketing alignment in ever more subtle ways.

  • Target audiences are fractured into smaller and smaller segments, each with unique needs and definitions of value.
  • Media options, already highly fragmented, show every indication of becoming more so (perhaps by yet another factor of 10) over the coming decade.
  • Data, which only a few years ago was unavailable to marketers, is readily accessible to almost everyone in the organization and consequently open to interpretation by nearly every parochial interest.
  • An explosion in the number of marketing programs or initiatives spawned by these factors makes it increasingly difficult to determine the results of any single effort; a melting pot of tactics all lay claim to the desired outcomes.
  • Web-enabled data sharing has given birth to geographically scattered work teams that may be closer to the customers but often are held together only by a common logo on their paychecks.

Peer Pressure
As if these factors weren’t enough, today’s marketing organization likely attracts the keen interest of the CMO’s peers on the executive committee as they all struggle under the weight of escalating topline growth expectations.

These new realities are corrosive influences on old marketing organization models, eating away at both effectiveness and productivity while simultaneously causing marketers to work harder to protect the illusion of control.

Today’s model organization seems to create customer value in a matrixed collaboration of all major functions of the company. The departments work together on strategic development, value propositions, channel management, information and communications management, and performance measurement.

Many of these historically marketing-driven activities have expanded to include finance, human resources, information technology, operations, and other internal disciplines, putting quite a few cooks in the kitchen. And while it would be difficult to argue that the end product isn’t bettered by cross-discipline scrutiny, “efficient” isn’t often a word applied to this collaborative effort.

Conforming Amid Complexity
So how do you stay focused and aligned in a world requiring the assimilation of more facts, more data points, more options, and more opinions than ever before? How do you continue to improve efficiency and effectiveness when the very definitions of both seem to be in a perpetual state of flux? And how, in the era of Sarbanes-Oxley, do you maintain the proper balance of controls and freedoms to juggle discipline and responsibility with creativity and innovation?

A few ideas and examples of reorganizing marketing for greater success follow. If you haven’t already read it, you might also want to re-read the entry titled “Note to CMOs: Get a Contract.”

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