How to Build Your Marketing Organization

May 18, 2016
Contributor: Heather Pemberton Levy

How do you nurture in-house talent while taking advantage of the gig economy?

Think of a recent content project managed by a member of the marketing team. Chances are, the manager functioned as a Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) with accountability for the project. She most likely assembled a team of resources from inside and outside the organization.

These types of flexible work styles have prompted marketing leaders to ask how they should structure the marketing organization. Around a product? A brand? Existing structure? “Pick one,” suggested Chris Ross, research director, Gartner for Marketing Leaders, at the Gartner Digital Marketing Conference 2016.

The answer, he said, is around capability. “Do I have the right capability to support the needs of the business? And can I zig and zag as the needs of business change?”

Building the marketing organization for the next decade will require careful selection from a range of external partners balanced against the existing skills and talent in the marketing organization.

Nurture internal talent

To keep pace with the rate of change in digital marketing practices, marketing leaders should nurture their in-house talent to foster skills around areas such as marketing technology, multichannel marketing and business IQ. They should also pay attention to the explicit skills of leadership and collaboration.

Remember amazing teams don’t just happen. They don’t just fall off the org chart.

“Often there is an assumption that bright talented people know how to lead and collaborate,” Mr. Ross said. Yet while they may have domain expertise they might not be as strong in these areas. “Be aware of developing these skills in your team,” he said.

Also, be aware of the growing trend of the “Fat T Marketer.” The traditional T-shaped marketer holds breadth and depth of experience in a core area. Mr. Ross noted the emergence of the Fat T Marketer as someone with a deeper level of expertise in more areas. “This doesn’t mean specialists go away, but this is increasingly the profile of a marketer,” he said. “It allows them to be more interchangeable and flexible.”

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Carefully select external partners

While 52 percent of marketers surveyed said they’d like to develop more in-house talent, they rely heavily on agencies today. Often they lack confidence in the skills and quality of in-house talent, a nod to nurture it as we just discussed. However, when selecting an external partner, marketers can choose from a dynamic talent marketplace. “There’s never been a better time for marketers to have choice,” Mr. Ross said.

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Read related article: How to Choose Your Marketing Partners Wisely

Sure, full-service agencies provide a range of services and can make strong strategic partners. However, it’s important to assess the stability within a full service agency, particularly churn among account teams.

“What happens if your account team swaps out after you’ve invested a lot of time and energy into educating them?” he asked.

Managed marketplaces provide an alternative to freelance resources by pre-curating resources and managing the project for you. While boutique agencies may focus on a particular area or geography, they may be challenged to scale or manage additional marketing programs that arise.

Embrace the gig economy

As the profile of marketers change, so must the marketing organization. Mr. Ross called on digital marketing leaders to “Embrace the gig work style” and realize that as the nature of projects become goal-driven to deliver results for the business, by their nature they lend themselves well to a performance way of working.

Marketers should assess where the organization and staff are relative to the core capabilities they need. “Do you have people in your organization who can work in this project-based work style?” he asked.

“Remember amazing teams don’t just happen. They don’t just fall off the org chart,” he continued. “It happens with a very purposeful, mindset effort to develop your marketing organization for the next decade.”

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