Is the structure of your marketing team hindering its success?

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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.

On a day to day basis how many times do you stop and think about the structure of your marketing team and the impact it’s having on how well you are going to market? Honestly?

Yet, with the current situation of ever changing strategic focus coupled with mounting pressures on marketing to do more for less, deliver more tangible business results, become more customer oriented or be more agile, it’s something we at TrinityP3 feel needs to be thought about. Often.

In fact, marketing performance, and within that marketing structure, has been identified as one of the 6 key challenges facing marketers today. Meaning we regularly work with CMO’s who are looking to improve and optimise on their marketing output by engaging us to investigate their marketing processes, technology, agency rosters and structure.

marketing team structure

Their briefs tell us they want to be faster to market, more responsive to customer needs, more innovative, more adaptable or a combination of all the above.

However, sometimes when we put forward recommendations to help them achieve this, including marketing structure models that will help them better deliver on their strategic goals, we are sometimes met with hesitancy, or worse, resistance.

Not necessarily from the CMO who has engaged us to undertake the analysis (although this does happen), but more commonly up the line at an executive level. At times, this resistance stems from the executive team not being part of the process being undertaken by the CMO until we are well underway.

But more often, this resistance is the result of an executive team who doesn’t want to accept the insight that the way the organisation has organised itself, and its teams, is negatively impacting on its marketing output and success. And quite frankly, they believe changing the structure of marketing is just all too hard.

The challenges in restructuring marketing

At a broad level, it is the role of executive management to determine how an organisation organises itself including reporting and decision-making protocol and the grouping of outputs, into departments, such as marketing.

The framework to support this is what we know as the structure, or organisation structure, and this will vary in levels of complexity, supporting infrastructure and procedural formality. Authority and decision-making levels determine whether a structure is centralised or decentralised, hybrid, bureaucratic or organic.

Then, depending on the type of organisation, most will structure its departments based on one of the following criteria; geography, goods and services, customer type, process or function.

Critically, regardless of which criteria a department is structured around, it needs to be aligned to the overall organisational strategy, and then of course the departmental strategy, as this will allow the structure to properly resource itself to be able to deliver on said strategy. Now, this is where we often see it all go pear-shaped.

Firstly, because marketing strategies currently seem to be changing at a rate of knots and secondly, the responsibility for organisational and departmental structure development traditionally sits at an executive level, led by human resources.

Therefore, departmental structures are developed and managed at arm’s length, in a uniform manner and with legacy and regulatory issues playing a key role. Not with the departmental strategies in mind. Tech start up and entrepreneurial business thinking is shifting this, however, it is still more common for structure to be a complex HR and executive level led directive.

Because of this, departmental managers will adopt what is put in place across the business; linear, top-down command and control siloed environments that are uniform across all departments. And this is just accepted as is. This set and forget mentality demands a lot of work to shift, thereby causing many in in the C-Suite to be hesitant to go there, forcing CMO’s to create their own work arounds to suit individual teams.

What’s the impact of that?

In today’s marketing environment, the impact of this can be huge. Primarily because it leads to structure influencing the strategy, but also because in order to be a successful marketing team in this increasingly disrupted landscape, the structural needs of marketing as a function require much more than shifting from decentralised to centralised, or vice-versa.

To be strategically successful, marketing teams need to be disrupting themselves, and the broader organisation, by becoming more agile, flexible, collaborative and importantly, adaptable.

Unfortunately, what we often see when we start working with marketing teams are one of four situations;

  1. Marketing teams who have attempted to restructure in isolation to the rest of the organisation
  2. Marketing teams who have implemented what they think is ‘best practice*’ (*insert shudder here)
  3. Marketing team who have ‘rearranged the deckchairs on the Titanic’ by combining roles, changing position descriptions or downsizing/upsizing teams, or
  4. Marketing teams who restructure themselves as smaller teams, usually by tactic (social media, digital, ATL, events) or by product/service.

Whilst these solutions are a start, the issues with all four of these situations is this; marketing is still operating within the traditional, linear and siloed framework of the organisation and rarely (read, never) is the ‘restructure’ strategically aligned.

This means they change, but effectively stay the same; and this is where those with the best intentions come unstuck. Because, being more effective, efficient, adaptable, customer focussed or agile in your marketing requires more than just changes within marketing itself, it requires a shift that is transformative across the whole business. And that involves everyone.

What can you do about it?

At TrinityP3 we encourage a whole business approach to addressing the challenges faced in marketing. This is because we believe it is fundamental that the marketing team is structured in the most optimal way to be able to deliver on the strategic objectives and goals of an organisation, as well as understand how the rest of the business can support marketing to do this. Because otherwise, they won’t.

TrinityP3’s Marketing Structure Review service offers a comprehensive assessment of your internal structure. We deliver recommendations designed to optimise performance via the alignment of your marketing structure with the strategic focus and commercial purpose of your organisation. 

Why do you need this service? Read on to understand more

 

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About Zena Churchill

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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