The marketing model must become more fluid

In a recent conversation with one of our clients, she said 'The problem with our company is that everyone does marketing now'. Interestingly, she saw this as a barrier to growth and certainly a hindrance to the Marketing team doing their job. I see this change more positively. The Marketing landscape is changing faster than any of us could ever have predicted, precipitated by the onslaught of the new opportunities and challenges presented by the digital world and the type of relationships consumers / customers expect with brands now. In order for Marketing (the function) to deliver a strong and consistent brand experience, everyone in the organisation needs to play a role. What is critical however, is that Marketing takes the lead in shaping how this experience is delivered. The title of a recent piece by Tom French, Laura LaBerge and Paul Magill for McKinsey Quarterly summed it up nicely: "We're all marketers now".

Marketers need to be like orchestra conductors

The traditional brand management role that required 'controlling' every element of the marketing mix is quickly being replaced by a much more fluid model, where Marketing still has the accountability for brand and business growth, but increasingly delivering it through other parts of the organisation. Marketers can no longer hope to be responsible for every touchpoint; the complexity often requires specialist skills. Instead they need to be able to communicate with absolute clarity their vision for delivering demand-led growth. And like an orchestra conductor, they need to co-ordinate, drive, lead and spotlight areas for focus both to their teams and throughout the business as a whole. They need to understand the sum of the parts as well as the capabilities of each individual component; no conductor can hope to play every musical instrument, but it is important to ensure a harmonised and coherent performance and the conductor is critical, as is the role of each musician in contributing to the output overall.

New models, new organisational structures, new skills

This can be a painful transition and often one that requires a different set of skills and, potentially, different organisational structures. In one recent example, our client was looking to recruit a global head of digital and several debates ensued as to whether this role should report to the CMO and what level of marketing background this person needed to have. This type of discussion is very common and is likely to continue until organisations build some successful operational models and the shape of the Marketing teams of the future emerges. Moreover, big questions are being asked about the additional capabilities that teams needs to have to excel in this new environment. Obviously, there are some clear areas to upskill such as digital awareness and implementation, but more will be needed to equip the Marketers to work fluidly and re-orient towards the ever changing customer / consumer landscape.

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