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Why you need to build resilient marketing teams and not just agile ones?

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This post is by Zena Churchill, a Senior Consultant at TrinityP3. Over the past 20 years, Zena has worked for some of the biggest international and national brands. Having worked both agency and client side, Zena has strong insight and experience across most facets of marketing, specialising in media, strategy and BTL.

Imagine the industry you work in is impacted by changes so seismic that it fundamentally shifts how your business could or should operate. How would your business survive? How would your marketing team cope? Would they?

This exact situation has happened to a sizeable number of industries over the past decade or so, including the music industry, publishing, technology companies, disability service providers and the higher education market.

Shifts in technology, government funding, product consumption, consumer demands, increased competition and the rise of the empowered consumer have come together, for some seemingly at once, to disrupt these industries and permanently change the business landscapes within which they had operated for years.

At TrinityP3 we have worked with many companies across Australia and the world who have been impacted by these disruptive shifts and our deep dives into these businesses and their marketing function has shown us that even in some of the biggest companies, disruption, no matter how big or small, can leave a business scrambling to just keep up, let alone get back in front.

These insights not only led us to identify the six critical challenges facing marketers in this disruptive landscape they have also highlighted the importance of ensuring that how we structure marketing teams means that not only are they agile, but that they are also resilient.

The importance of resilience in turbulent times

Being resilient, as opposed to being agile which is about structuring your marketing function so you can move quickly and easily when disruption arises, is the capacity to recover quickly from these difficulties and move forward. Or, as Philip Kotler puts it in his book Chaotics: The Business of Managing Marketing in the Age of Turbulence,  resilience in marketing ‘transforms anxiety into action and difficulty into decisiveness’.

And, from our experience any marketing team that can successfully combine agility with resilience will be unstoppable.

So, is your marketing team resilient? If not, how do you structure to ensure your marketing team can tackle new, and at times, unforeseen challenges?

When we work with our clients to look at ways of creating the right marketing structures and improving overall marketing performance, we often approach the situation the same way every time.

This approach involves us working very closely with the marketing team, and quite often the broader business, to address the following 4 critical factors. It also helps us assess, with absolute clarity, the structure needed to deliver marketing success.    

4 critical success factors in a resilient marketing structure

  1. Strategic focus and direction

Rarely when disruption impacts a business do the challenges it faces take a business back to where it was in the past. Therefore, the way a business responds must anticipate the new market landscape and include a thorough review and revision of existing strategies.

When we help with this review process, the result often brings us to what former head of IBM Andy Groves calls it in his book Only the Paranoid Survive, a ‘strategic inflection point’. A point when an old strategy is recognised as no longer working and needs to be replaced by a new one if the business is to ascend to new heights.

Strategy is what should be driving the business and all its functions, yet from our experience strategy is still one of the most misunderstood aspects of business and marketing.

  1. Internal processes

The right marketing structure alone will not make for a resilient team, a business also needs to have the right processes in place to be able to deal with new challenges and unpredicted threats. And, if you’ve nailed your strategy, the right process will fall from that.

Putting the right process into action will increase the chances of being able to move quickly and easily (be agile), and will also enable everyone, including the marketing team, to recover and continue moving forward (be resilient). Having the wrong processes in place run the risk of a business grinding to halt and possibly heading backwards.

Rarely is the internal process the sole responsibility of the marketing team, therefore, it is imperative that the whole business is engaged in identifying and understanding where roadblocks may be occurring across the process causing fragility and an inability to address disruption.

  1. Using market intelligence

In today’s environment, the backbone of any marketing function should be its market intelligence and its skills to analyse and derive insights that will help foresee potential disruption, expose weakness and identify opportunity.

A resilient team will face these three scenarios head on and be able to exploit the opportunity to their advantage, remove the weakness and withstand and grow from the turmoil.

However, it is not uncommon for us to find a business drowning in data but devoid of insights, or the skills to identify and implement them. This means, many marketing teams are unable to track or predict changes in their market that would enable them to act quickly or with force.

  1. Leadership

Resilience (or agility for that matter) cannot exist if the leadership model doesn’t allow for it. Transparency, accountability and a shared sense of purpose across the layers of the business is what drives teams to succeed both internally and inter-departmentally.

An empowered marketing team, guided by an insightful and engaging leader or leadership team, will increase the chances it has of being resilient. From our experience, a marketing team left to its own devices will by default succeed in what its attempting to achieve, however what they are attempting to achieve rarely aligns to the rest of the business. This spells disaster.

Closing the gaps in your resilient marketing teams

It is not uncommon for the TrinityP3 team to see gaps across these 4 critical success factors when we work with our clients and we understand they are sometimes difficult to see when you work inside a business.

Getting an expert assessment of your marketing structure and its performance is a guaranteed way of developing marketing teams that can not only tick the agility box, but can also tick the resilience box and together that’s a powerful outcome.

How resilient is your marketing team? TrinityP3 bring best-practice thinking to bear in delivery of improved marketing performance

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Zena is a Senior Consultant at TrinityP3. Over the past 20 years, Zena has worked for some of the biggest international and national brands. Having worked both agency and client side, Zena has strong insight and experience across most facets of marketing, specialising in media, strategy and BTL.

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