Design the Right Marketing Organization for the Next Decade

January 19, 2018
Contributor: Chris Pemberton

Collaboration is the key to building the marketing organization of the future.

Unicorns symbolize different things to different people. To a young child they are the mythical creatures of fairy tales. To a venture capitalist they are the rare startup with a private valuation of more than $1 billion. And to a marketing leader seeking to build a powerhouse marketing team, unicorns are the rare marketers with deep technical and domain expertise who also bring decades of industry experience. But just like in venture capital, it’s risky business to pin the future of your organization on something rarely seen in the wild.

“Design a marketing team capable of strong internal and external collaboration.”

There is a better way to build the marketing organization of the future.

A more sustainable and effective strategy is to design a marketing team capable of strong internal and external collaboration — one with the talent to lead, contribute and cooperate simultaneously.

“By nurturing diverse skill sets, tapping new talent sources and prioritizing collaboration, marketing leaders fuel their brands’ adaptability and business results,” says Chris Ross, VP Analyst, Gartner for Marketers.

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According to the Gartner 2017 CMO Strategy Survey, many CMOs desire an operating model that relies less on outsourced talent and more on internal capabilities. At the same time, a more project-centric work style and strong customer focus increasingly drive today’s marketing organization. Within this context, CMOs want to know “How can I design and build a marketing team that achieves business goals and adapts to future needs?”

Facilitate collaboration

The debate and discussion of what marketing teams should organize around — products, brands, customer segments, etc. — misses the larger point. The critical challenges faced by modern marketing teams aren’t solved with an org chart. They are solved by a team’s ability to dynamically apply the right mix of capabilities to the needs of the business.

“Give the majority of marketing team members an opportunity to lead, regardless of tenure or experience.”

The project-based tenets of the gig economy include flattened organizational structures, increased use of independent consultants, and more fluid and collaborative organizational dynamics. These now drive the day-to-day operations of many marketing organizations, and Gartner clients report increased adoption of dynamic, adaptable work environments. To lead and manage the marketing organization of tomorrow, design a marketing team capable of strong internal and external collaboration.

Embrace team toggling

Current and future team members should expect to toggle across multiple roles. As projects ebb and flow and as contractors come and go, marketing team members should be comfortably able to lead one project, contribute to another, and plan or collaborate on multiple initiatives. They also should be capable of seamlessly transitioning among these different roles.

View everyone as a leader

In a project-based work environment, give the majority of marketing team members an opportunity to lead, regardless of tenure or experience. Such fluidity enables marketing executives to rapidly develop multiple leaders who can collectively improve marketing performance and results.

More confident, capable marketers provide greater opportunities to boost marketing’s broader business impact.

“Building a nimble marketing team helps brands stay relevant amid volatile business conditions and mercurial customer demands,” says Ross.

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