Getting future-fit: How to optimise your marketing function

Organisations everywhere are fighting to keep up with new marketing technology and trends, while simultaneously managing the impact these can have on roles and ways of working within their marketing function. We sat down with Blackdot Senior Manager Gabrielle Lukes-Mooney to discuss how organisations can set themselves up for success.

Gabby, in your experience, what are the common tensions found within most marketing teams today?

Many organisations experience the same tensions – they’re all trying to become more digitised and data-driven, but they’re also trying to move as quickly as possible. This means there’s a tendency to rush into making changes to the marketing function without stepping back and considering the bigger picture. Unfortunately, this results in role duplication, capability gaps that are backfilled with an assortment of random agencies, which also duplicate and overlap, and a general lack of clarity.
For organisations wanting to take a step back and optimise their team, where should they start?

Figuring out how best to design the function really depends on what your organisation is trying to achieve in terms of customer experience – once you know this, you can then identify the capabilities required to enable this experience. There are a lot of effective ways to structure marketing – there’s really no ‘right or wrong’ answer; what matters is to start with the customer and establish your purpose. From there, you’ll be able to understand which parts of the customer experience you want to prioritise, and therefore what will make the most sense for your unique operating context.

On the capability front, how can organisations find the balance between building in-house versus outsourcing?

Again, that totally depends on where you want to get to and how fast you need to get there. If you want to progress really quickly, you might decide to outsource certain capabilities while you build up your internal competency, and then look to bring some of those in-house when you become more mature.

For larger organisations, how do you decide what to centralise?

There’s a good example for this from a previous client of ours in the footwear and apparel industry. We designed some principles for them around centralisation, which had them ask the following three questions:

  • Does it result in scaled financial benefits or efficiencies? 
  • Is there functional knowledge required versus brand-specific knowledge?
  • Is it a common requirement across all brands and business units?
We needed to believe that each capability satisfied each of those three principles, which then made a case to centralise it.
For anyone currently on this journey towards reworking their marketing function, what would you tell them?

Once you’ve established where you want to go, and it is both aspirational and achievable, set a plan in place to get there. Begin with the experience you are trying to create, line up capabilities around your customer experience priorities, then make a series of decisions around what you centralise/decentralise or outsource, versus building capabilities in-house. If you want to accelerate progression, outsourcing certain roles or tasks can fill capability gaps, but make sure it’s a strategic and considered approach. The key is just to get really clear and approach the process systematically – avoid the temptation of ‘designing as you go’ and you’ll set yourself up for success.

Worded by Gabrielle-Lukes Mooney.

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