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While the discussion around maximizing efficiencies in Sales and Service have been going on for more than a decade under the big umbrella of CRM concepts, the discussion around Marketing processes and efficiencies is comparatively still in its infancy. While it is clearly understood that it is the responsibility of the marketing department to develop an efficient innovation pipeline, and furthermore drive the whole process from product innovations downwards to the alignment with Sales, the processes are still chasing behind this entitlement. Moreover, talking today about the “Total Customer Experience”, it is mandatory to align along all customer touch points. To make it even worse, efficient internal processes need to be supported by integrated technology to ensuring that customers enjoy a consistently reliable experience in all their interactions and across all interaction points with a company. More and more personalized customer engagements increase the need for multi-channel customer 1:1 mass interactions to be effectively managed.

But: Managing a global marketing operation seemingly gets more difficult every day. The reason: the wish to reap the benefits of a Total Customer Experience Management and Web 2.0 directly leads to a discussion around internal marketing processes. Or would you like to receive a follow-up activity on your request for further product information only 4 weeks later? In parallel, the whole discussion around process alignment is massively pushed forward facing mounting pressures to eliminate waste, broaden competencies and limit spend while driving business and bottom line growth. Escalating international competition, competing internal priorities, and sudden shifts in strategic direction directly impact (and often necessitate retooling) all aspects of marketing-related systems and processes. Today, these challenges have been exacerbated by increasing economic uncertainty and decreasing budgetary resources. Studies from Gartner, the CMO Council or IDC found out that: 

  • The consistent inability to effect process and operational change as a result of inadequate data-sharing and low adoption of CRM systems across the enterprise.
  • CMOs perceived lack of organizational visibility and accountability.
  • Increasing interdepartmental tensions that are seemingly compounded by change-resistant corporate cultures. While the board is increasing the pressure on marketing to improve the bottom line, there is no clear mandate for functional alignment across the enterprise.

If Marketing is going to take its place as agenda-setting owner of the Total Customer Experience, operational processes must also reflect a mandate to align around the customer, and follow through with the focused implementation of efficiency enablers like marketing automation technologies that allow for real time measurement, management and adjustment of activities and processes alike.

Therefore the Chief Marketing Officer today has to work in parallel towards 2 different directions: on the one side, the streamlining of all processes from innovation management, marketing planning, execution down to performance measurement is a prerequisite. Here also the question about necessary core competencies comes into the game … means: what are the competencies and work areas really required within the marketing department, which capabilities can be outsourced? Case studies reveal that the internal competencies should comprise factors such as customer insights and content, while all execution capabilities might be outsourced to a high degree (e.g. in form of an “implanted agency”). The analysis based upon an overall end-to-end marketing value chain has the advantage to be a clear representation of a (potential) customer value and experience, which consequently indicates potential competitive advantages along the process chain for diverse company activities. Individual activities within the value chain are investigated as to the extent that they actually offer customers added value and which competitors offer similar services and activities. The “brown paper method” offers a simple approach for devising and visualizing the internal business value chain. As part of this method, all primary and supporting process steps are compiled on brown paper during a workshop. This form of visualization facilitates a vivid and interactive discussion of possible sources for generating additional customer value and, consequently, potential competitive advantages. Supplementing a process analysis with financial key figures (such as process costs) facilitates structured discussions and conclusions about the actual value contribution. Practical examples show that the approach using a led workshop has substantial advantages in comparison to a purely IT supported process modeling: The “high touch, low tech” approach forces a high degree of interaction and discussion between participants, and fosters the formation of a consistent group opinion both on the participants’ own company and the location of competitors. Subsequently, the results on the company can be mapped for implementing process improvements and adjusting the associated IT in IT-supported modeling procedures as required.

On the other side … talking about IT …the marketing operations model also requires an IT platform on which multiple processes could be integrated. Such a platform has to be both highly formalized and agile, with the capacity for change already built into its structure. But, integration is difficult and requires a solid operational platform to align a growing number of complex systems and processes. Customer behavior is transforming all the time, as are the technologies used to reach buyers at an ever-increasing number of customer touch points across Marketing, Sales, and Service. Marketers need an operational infrastructure that responds quickly and flexibly to these and other key variables. For example, as customer communication trends indicate, marketers will look to get more personal in their customer engagements. This increases the need for a multi-channel IT platform across Web Channel, Direct Marketing, Sales, Interaction Center, Service Force etc to be effectively managed. Sad to say, that the least utilized tools are all related to areas of Marketing that would rely on cross-functional collaboration and partnership (e.g. with Sales), namely those that focus on channel productivity and opportunity management … which still represents an easy to be tapped stream for revenue potentials.

In a nutshell: In terms of their existing marketing operational models, senior marketers must no longer ask “If we should change”? Rather, they must ask, “How should we change”? Without getting into the discussion about the glass of water being “half-empty” or “half-full”, there is a burgeoning opportunity for marketing to lead the charge and mold corporate culture for the future – to create a corporate rally point to circle with marketing driving the operational map that revolves around a single, critical point … namely the customer .. really building a “Market-Focued Organisation”. In this vein, the old discussion and concepts of the 1990s about “Building a Market and Customer Focused Enterprise” now may come into effect. Marketing can be the driver to instill an accountable, customer-centric DNA to their enterprise … based upon cross functional collaboration and support. But Marketing also has the opportunity to establish closed customer feedback loops, integrate dispersed data, and manage content and digital assets so as to deliver a pristine, consistent and reliable customer experience. Marketing operations becomes the prerequisite for these efforts …. Establishing an infrastructure, offering the process and guidance to enable real customer centricity. Without a defined, unified and single-minded operational model across local, regional and global marketing organizations, the danger of deepening the fragmentation within organizations still might increase, as desperate functions continue to invest and execute in far-off reaches of the enterprise.

This blogs series “Marketing 2.0” addresses topics that have come into the forefront of importance for marketing and must be tackled immediately… stay tuned for the next blog!

Further readings: Strauss, R.E.: Marketing Planning by Design. Systematic Planning for Successful Marketing Strategy, London: Wiley & Sons, 2008CMO Council: Calibrate How You Operate – Improving Marketing Yield, Visibility and Process, Palo Alto, 2009.

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  1. Natascha Thomson
    During the migration process problems have been reported for this blog. The blog content may look corrupt due to not supported HTML code on this platform. Please adjust the blog content manually before moving it to an official community.
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