Technology is no longer the tail that wags the marketing dog – it is the entire dog, nose to tail. There was a time in the not too distant past when digital was an add-on function in the marketing equation. Today, digital is at the core of everything we do in marketing. And that has profound ramifications for the business of marketing, the people who practice it, and the companies that rely on it to grow and succeed.
Just as technology has transformed how companies market themselves and their brands, it is having a similarly momentous impact on corporate marketing organizations and the people who staff and manage them. For corporations to fully capitalize on the technology-fueled marketing revolution– or just avoid being left behind – they will need to completely rethink and restructure their marketing departments.
Companies large and small are already starting to align their marketing departments with the new technology-driven business environment, but these changes are happening with less urgency than is warranted. Marketing should be a leading indicator in business (and technology), not a lagging one.
So what does the tech-empowered marketing organization of the future look like, and what do you need to do to build one today? In my mind there are two big areas of focus:
A Customer Mindset
A study we commissioned earlier this year that found that 75% of CMOs and senior marketing executives expect to own the end-to-end customer relationship in the next three to five years. Assuming even more responsibility for managing the entire customer lifecycle, the CMO is now organizing the marketing function around the customer rather than around channels, internal processes and tools (e.g., no more separate email and social marketing teams). We’re also seeing centers of excellence emerging to connect common, horizontal functions and drive coordination around engaging the customer. This includes breaking down the old barriers between customer acquisition and loyalty. Suffice it to say that if you still have a separate digital group in your marketing department, you are probably headed in the wrong direction.
A New Team
For years the key players in the marketing department were the VPs of brand marketing, corporate marketing and product marketing. Who are the leaders in this new digital age? The term “content marketing” barely existed five years ago. Today most marketing departments have at least one executive whose sole job is to oversee the development and distribution of content to attract and engage customers. The modern marketing organization is increasingly being powered by an engine that is process-driven. This has given rise to a new role, the head of marketing operations,who is responsible for driving that engine with the right blend of technology and data. I also believe we need to designate a head of listening. This individual would listen to what the customer really says and understand how she behaves via the web, mobile, social and the “real” world, too. Always advocating for the customer’s needs and wants, the head of listening would use these insights to empower the marketing team to respond in real-time, customer-by-customer, thus helping to build the long-term relationships that produce outsized revenue growth.
Notwithstanding all of this progress, too many companies are not evolving fast enough. To paraphrase the great poet Chaucer, time and tide wait for no company. Forward-thinking corporations are moving aggressively to build customer-centric, technology-driven marketing organizations that are competing more effectively and poised to win the future. Is your company ready?