In the quest for world-class effectiveness and efficiency of your marketing organization, the importance of clear goals cannot be overestimated. Clarity within your own team just makes sense when you think about the need for clarity with marketing’s stakeholders, especially with customers. Clear goals lay the foundation for everything else your marketing organization aspires to.
In research conducted by Marketing Operations Partners, marketing executives were asked about their current phase in the journey toward mature marketing operations practices, as well as their near-term plans to “move the needle” in that trek. Clear goals are a prominent aspect of both phases: the journey to-date and what’s going to be instrumental going forward. Combining clarity with a growing appreciation of what formal operations reviews can bring to marketing’s effectiveness, companies are making strides in demonstrating Marketing Accountability.
Of course there are a few more keys to consistently showing stakeholders that marketing is accountable and trustworthy of funding bestowals as well as investments of attention and action. Clarity improves smooth implementation of marketing strategies, which is a precursor to reaping large numerators in relation to sleek denominators in the equation for return on marketing investment.
Alignment with sales and other stakeholders is seen as the next most important building-block for great marketing organization performance, followed by collaboration with stakeholders, with the aim of making marketing and the rest of the company more flexible in responding to and pre-empting rapid changes in the marketplace.
Here are some additional insights from the Journey to Marketing Operations Maturity benchmarking study:
Key Finding #10:
Marketing Operations maturity journey is driven by clear goals, formal reviews, and cross-functional interaction.
Reasons for MO maturity were described by study participants, who also described the tools in place for near-term improvements. Clear goals, formal reviews, and cross-functional interaction were the most frequently mentioned as fostering maturity improvement. Other factors mentioned often were follow-up, alignment with Sales, striving to understand others, anticipating future trends, employee development, access to reliable and useful data, electronic information repositories, and business process mapping.
Figure 14 shows participants’ existing success factors and success factors underway as organized by the MO objectives of “Marketing Accountability,” “Proliferation of Lessons Learned,” “Management between Reviews,” “Optimal Balance between Strategy and Tactics,” “Synergy with Stakeholders,” “Fact-Based Decision-Making,” and “Group Memory Management.”
Figure 14: Success in “Marketing Accountability,” for example, is due to performance measurement, clear goals, executive buy-in and support, and incentives or rewards. The primary methods in place for improving “Marketing Accountability” performance within the next year are clear goals, follow-up, and employee development.
Companies that appraise their current performance at 100% say they got there by:
- Marketing Accountability — “We don’t sign up for what we can’t schedule.”
- Management Between Reviews — “We address this through standing weekly meetings.”
Companies that are targeting 100% in the near-term say they plan to get there by:
- Marketing Accountability — “A career management initiative is underway; competency assessments are tied to mandatory management-by-objective (MBO) plans; we’re coordinating old-timers and new people.”
- Proliferation of Lessons Learned — “Improvement will be enforcing a process.”
- Optimal Balance Between Strategy and Tactics — “There is a strategy group within Marketing.”
- Synergy With Stakeholders — “We need to teach people how to take input in order to be more collaborative.”
As discussed in the previous section, “Accountability” is the major focus area for companies seeking to improve their MO performance. Clarity of purpose and a disciplined approach for managing commitments are keys to achieving “Accountability.” When such clarity and discipline are lacking, everything becomes a priority, focus is overly dispersed, and people are overwhelmed with more commitments than they can possibly fulfill.
Naturally, follow-up and measurement are essential for “Accountability.” So, too, is a formalized review process, which can range from regular tracking against a plan to a critical diagnosis of the effectiveness of MO and Marketing function health. To increase the impact of tracking Accountability, it is advisable to set objectives in a cascading fashion, from enterprise-level targets to department-level, team-level, and individual-level targets, all aimed at supporting corporate goals.
Strong accountability is the initial stepping stone for greatness in marketing organizations. Clarity is an essential ingredient in all aspects of marketing effectiveness and efficiency: to sing from the same tune, let the right hand know what the left hand is doing, keep-it-simple-stupid, bite off only what you can chew, and prevent getting derailed or going off on tangents. Clarity builds morale and tenure longevity. And clarity eases stakeholders’ grasp of the value you add.
Clarity and accountability form the basis for the noble things that marketers strive for in influencing others, both inside and outside the company, toward strong market performance and business results in our fast-paced world. The success of collaboration with others depends on trust, which is earned through accountability. Learning how to master these operational aspects of marketing is part of every marketer’s role.
by Lynn Hunsaker, President of Marketing Operations Partners and Customer Experience Strategist at ClearAction