What Can Companies Expect From Transforming Their Marketing Ecosystem?
by Francois Estellon
As long as marketing operations remain siloed, it’s impossible for marketers to develop a universal strategy and point of view that are capable of driving the transformation required to create a cohesive omnichannel experience for consumers. If technology solutions are applied in a channel-centric way, then they will just contribute to the noise. Moreover, siloed operations prevent the organization from moving forward—and ultimately compromise the success of every new product launch and every campaign. This article discusses the symptoms of hidden marketing factories and outlines steps brands can take to address them.
#1: PARALLEL OPERATIONS
At the most fundamental level, you have multiple groups internally operating in parallel—often using multiple external agencies—that are disconnected and misaligned, with little to no visibility of what each is doing on behalf of the brand. Right from the start, the brand’s voice and integrity begin to dilute.
#2: UNCLEAR DECISION MAKING
Because there are numerous silos with numerous owners and limited visibility across marketing operations, there is no reliable source of metrics to quantify the performance of content and the marketing operations supply chain itself. This significantly hinders the ability to launch new products quickly; to pivot swiftly in response to marketplace changes or to improve campaign results; to protect the brand’s equity, which has been built from millions of dollars invested over many years; and to create a seamless experience for the consumer. Essentially, limited data yields limited insight, which leads to suboptimal decision making.
#3: TOO MANY COOKS
With so many people involved in so many disparate processes, with little to no oversight of the entire marketing ecosystem, too many cooks spoil the broth. Everyone wants to be informed and wants a piece of everything, but no single authority is accountable.
#4: TURF WARS
Hidden factories have poorly defined boundaries, which leads to gaps, missed opportunities, pockets of resistance, the building of fiefdoms, and, ultimately, waste. Guardians with hidden (or unhidden) agendas will emerge to protect or extend boundaries in ways that don’t serve the broader interest of marketing. Self-preservation rules and a culture of internal competition are constantly at war, negatively impacting the investment in marketing a brand.
#5: A RACE TO NOWHERE
When the brand becomes subordinate to the egos of individuals, marketing the brand becomes a race to nowhere. This is such a high price to pay that organizations simply can no longer afford it. It’s almost impossible to create a connected experience outside an organization’s walls when everything inside it is disconnected. Where does this leave the brand? Subordinate to the interests of many.
#6: ORGANIZATIONAL INERTIA
All of these symptoms lead to a paralysis of an organization’s ability to perform with agility. Transforming a marketing operations ecosystem to serve the brand requires knocking down marketing silos across the enterprise. Rooting out hidden marketing factories requires a deep audit by marketing operations experts, an executive commitment to a change in management initiative, and a phased implementation plan.
Don’t try to address everything at once. Before you start digging into technologies, get your house in order, meaning, set yourself up for success by developing a single vision and strategy for centralizing your marketing operations. This must be unique to every company. Then, spend the right amount of time understanding the ins and outs of your current marketing supply chain. Assuming you are clear about where you are now and where you want to be in 12–24 months, get it on paper.
Build and empower a core team to prioritize change, remove obstacles, and manage transitions. Make all change stakeholders accountable to the core team and ensure that they can clearly articulate the journey. Next, work on restructuring your marketing operations to be channel-agnostic. A properly designed ecosystem will remove barriers to change, enabling you to maximize the value of progressive innovations.
CAN TECHNOLOGY HELP?
Companies must form their own points of view on the evolution of the marketing technology landscape. Myriad narrow technology solutions are not the answer. Companies must think more broadly in two senses:
- The solution must be aligned with the organization’s vision for its own evolving marketing ecosystem. We’re not all in the same place as far as digital maturity goes, nor are we all headed in the same direction.
- The solution must evolve marketing operations, not just the technology. Ultimately, it must improve marketing’s ability to seamlessly deliver the right content at the right time to the right audience in the right way, while maximizing value to the organization. It must unify the thinking and behaviors of people and processes and the flow of work.
I’ve seen companies unlock close to $10 million in hidden value. Some have been able to reduce process steps by 25%, content syndication time by 35%, project cycle times by 50%, and production artwork corrections by 38%. While the results are different for each company, these numbers demonstrate that there’s a lot of value in an organization cleaning up its share of the marketing mess.
The balance has shifted for marketing. Historically, it has always been more art than science. While art will always be important, technology has made marketing more about science. It is key to helping marketers make better decisions around investments and globally scale solutions (which include processes and people) that enable a company to be ready for the next wave of disruption, because it’s coming. Over the next 5 years, the pace of disruptions will only accelerate. Wise organizations will prioritize getting their marketing houses in order now, so they can focus more on the activities that drive value for them.
By untangling omnichannel challenges and eliminating hidden marketing factories within their walls, smart companies will be setting themselves up for a future that enables them to pivot with ease whenever they want to—thereby taking much greater control of their future.