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Want Higher Growth? Revisit Your Marketing Structure First

Want Higher Growth? Revisit Your Marketing Structure FirstHow you design your Marketing organization, or for that matter any organization, determines how it performs. If you want to impact your Marketing organization’s performance to achieve higher growth, one way to achieve that goal is by changing its structure. Organizational structure is the formal system of authority relationships and tasks that control and coordinate employee actions and behavior to achieve goals in organizations. It describes how work is arranged, authority and responsibility are allocated, and the rules of interaction. Researchconfirms that how you design your organization structure affects people’s work attitudes, behavior and performance.

Design Your Marketing Structure to Meet its Purpose

Most Marketing organizations are structured functionally.  Even the hub-and-spoke structures suggested by the Marketing2020 collaboration specify functional roles such as product manager, marketing strategies manager, advertising director, PR manager, market-research director and promotions director that create the spokes and rim of the wheel. In the age of the customer and the pressure on value creation and growth, this functional approach may be outdated.  In fact, this type of structure could prevent growth altogether.

As Marketing continues to take a more customer-centric approach it makes sense to revisit your organization’s structure. Consider a Marketing structure designed around the customer buying journey, where personnel are organized for each stage:

  • Stage 1: The prospective new customer makes contact.
  • Stage 2: The customer moves from contact to purchase consideration.
  • Stage 3: The customer completes a purchase and the implementation/deployment experience begins.
  • Stage 4: The customer movies into post purchase processes, such as support, billing, and problem resolution.
  • Stage 5: The customer gains loyalty, makes repeat purchases, and serves as an advisor and advocate for innovation. This approach will require having the right people with broader skills, such as people who understand the merits of integrated Marketing and can serve as generalists.

The key is to structure your Marketing organization in such a way that it is able to fulfill its purpose and support the business strategy. Marketing organizational structures should align core Marketing capabilities with business growth opportunities, which creates long-term effectiveness. When the strategy and plan is clear and being executed, but you’re not seeing improvement in performance, this may be a key indicator that you need to revisit your Marketing organization’s structure. Other indicators that it’s time for a redesign include confusion among functions or roles, difficulty in decision-making, and overall slow execution. Changes in strategy should also encourage revisiting your Marketing organization’s structure.

The structure defines the functions that need to be performed to support the strategy and the relationship between the functions. It establishes how people will be grouped together to accomplish work and therefore how they will behave. How you structure reporting relationships determines who makes the decisions, what and how work is performed.  One you define the structure you’ll have a blueprint for your organizational (org) chart, which depicts the reporting functions between people.

One Last Note

Try to avoid layering a “new” structure on top of the “old” structure.  You can do this by making sure you design your structure to excel at being effective (doing the right things) rather than excel at being efficient (doing things right). Marketing must balance the short-term with the long-term.  Structures designed for efficiency and driving results NOW often stymie innovation and experimentation.

What do you think? Does this make sense? What has your experience been when you’ve been focused on growth? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, and any insights you want to share. Of course, I’ll also mention that If you’re considering organizational structure change to improve your Marketing results, we are happy to help.

Photo Credit: lamanh.moa Flickr via Compfight cc

This article was first published on Integrated Marketing Association.

Laura Patterson

Laura Patterson is known for her practical, no-nonsense approach to proving and improving the value of marketing. Inventive and engaging, she quickly gets to the heart of the matter to provide actionable recommendations and solutions. Because her 20-year career began in sales and now spans customer relationship management and Marketing with a capital “M”, her recommendations are always cross-functional friendly. Laura is a strategic marketer, data and metrics master. Her company, VisionEdge Marketing has helped hundreds of companies, in a variety of industries, fulfill their marketing potential and achieve competitive advantage. An early pioneer on the science side of marketing, Laura is recognized as one of the leading authorities in marketing measurement and performance, content management, operations, and data and analytics.