The marketing organisation of the future


25 February 2020

Often, we hear stories of marketing organisations struggling to document ROI or siloed from the rest of the revenue-generating functions. However, with an increasingly competitive landscape, organisations cannot afford to have a business function out of sync. So, this is our take on how the future winning marketing organisation looks like.

Historically, marketing has been challenged as a function struggling to document ROI – and thus often being first in line for budget cuts, head count optimisation and a lack of strategic executive consideration. From working with marketing departments across different industries, we also quite often see that marketing teams, particularly in legacy organisations, are siloed from the rest of the revenue-generating functions of the company, struggle to find the balance between strategic brand equity initiatives and tactical execution and lack tech ecosystem understanding to keep up with competitors.

However, with an increasingly challenging business and competitive landscape, the acceleration of tech and increasingly scrutinised investments, companies cannot afford to have one leg of the business out of sync.

"The winning commercial organisation of tomorrow will operate as an ecosystem, where each function plays a significant and interdependent role – and this includes the marketing function.

So whether you are an executive looking to form your new marketing organisation, a CMO considering how to develop your team, or a marketeer looking to stay ahead of the game, you are probably asking yourself what the winning marketing organisation of the future will look like?

The mega trends shaping the development of the marketing organisation

Looking out into the world, we see some mega trends shaping the development of the business ecosystem and the marketing organisation of the future:

  • Perfect information availability is challenging differentiation opportunities in the eyes of the customer and pushing for execution excellence across the value chain.

  • Widespread tech adoption is changing customer consideration, purchase and consumption behaviour patterns.

  • Transparency across the value chain is increasing price pressure and the need for cost optimisation.

  • Fluid customer journeys are changing the channel footprint, buyer behaviour across channels and consumer expectations.

  • Competitive pressure from new and specialised players that are operating across blurred global barriers of entry is increasing.

How will these trends impact the marketing organisation of the future?

Although it’s a hard nut to crack, we predict that in the future, winning marketing teams will be characterised by:

  • Demand generation powerhouses: The increasingly complex business landscape will actually mean a clear back to basics for marketing teams, but in a supercharged version 2.0., marketing will concentrate on its core role: To generate demand and drive customer choice. The winners will be those that couple the craft of building brand equity with the competitive targeting, personalisation and effectiveness advantages offered by tech.

  • Leaner in-house teams: The rise of tech and perfect information has resulted in hyperspecialisation, and companies without significant scale to build in-house top-level specialists will increasingly outsource specialist skills and functions (e.g. media buying, SEO, content development etc.) to reap efficiency, impact and effectiveness advantages instead of investing in building these competences in-house.

  • Holistic business and ecosystem understanding: To be able to identify the needed external partners and the implications of the collaboration across the organisation as well as to have a strategic understanding of the key marketing ecosystems shaping today’s marketing landscape (e.g. Facebook, Google etc.).

  • Strong project management: The marketing organisation of the future will thus be characterised by strong project management skills – the ability to effectively navigate a complex external and internal stakeholder landscape – engaging external partners, customers, consumers and the internal organisation.

  • Agility to pivot: The increased speed of change will require agility in the future marketing organisation. Strategic, tactical and organisational capabilities are to be adjusted based on changing needs.

The increasingly complex business landscape will actually mean a back to basics for marketing teams, but in a supercharged version 2.0.

The star marketeer of the future

What are the core skills and capabilities required of the future marketeer? In the future, we expect that the stars of marketing must master these skills and capabilities:

  • Strategic brand building and tactical execution: Strong subject matter expertise in the principles of building brand equity (think “traditional” marketing school of brand building, differentiation and positioning) to ensure a sound long-term demand baseline coupled with strong tactical skills (quantitative, tech understanding etc.) to drive short-term execution and revenue boosting initiatives. It’s about driving both the top and the bottom of the sales funnel.

  • Business acumen: The ability to understand and drive the strategic agenda of the organisation, going from the “traditional” marketing “PowerPoint” language to a constructive dialogue with the CFO and CSO (“Excel” language).

  • Obsessed with the customer: The ability to understand and drive the customer agenda across the organisation and possessing the strategic understanding that customers are not limited to end consumers but often concern the whole revenue-driving ecosystem.

  • Ecosystem thinking: A strong understanding of the key ecosystems shaping the marketing landscape and their direct implications on the strategic goals and KPIs of the organisation as well as the ability to navigate them.

  • Context entrepreneurship: Not falling into the trap of becoming a “desktop marketeer” who is out of touch with the market and drowning in operational issues, but ensuring that all marketing and commercial activities are executed with the competitive and market context in mind to ensure tangible business impact.

  • Project management excellence: The ability to effectively manage cross-functional internal and external teams with impact and agility.

From expense to investment account

Also, we would like to take a quick look at the drivers of today’s challenges as key opportunities or enablers, particularly for the marketing function.

Today’s tech enables marketeers to solve the age-old ROI riddle by tracking and optimising all marketing expenditure and linking it directly to business effects. This enables marketing to transform itself from an expense account into an investment account securing future revenue streams.

However, tech is just that – an enabler. To maximise the impact potential that marketing provides and for the CMO to rightfully claim her seat in the boardroom, we need to couple the right enablers with the capabilities, strategic acumen and skillset needed of the marketing organisation of the future.

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