Topic: Strategy

Effective Marketing Organization And Process

Posted by rickshea on 250 Points
I'm about to take on the responsibility of creating a marketing organization and process in a business to business environment. The environment is fairly complex, with a couple dozen different service offerings to hundreds of diverse clients in a wide range of industries.

I want to create a process for ensuring we understand the health of each of our products, how competitive they are, and how well they meet client needs today and in the future so that we can make the appropriate product decisions (discontinue, refine, invest, create new products, etc). I also want to make sure we understand the buying decision process so that we position our products effectively and then interact and communicate effectively with both our clients and prospects.

I believe that I need to focus first on the process that I want to build, and secondly on the structure that I'll need in order to deliver an effective marketing process.

I am looking for advice on how to get started, how to approach this challenge. I am sure there are certain elements or basic priniciples that I need to make sure I incorporate into whatever I choose to do.

I am hoping for some advice along the lines of "whatever you do, make sure you incorporate the following elements into your process...."

Also, any advice on other resources I can go to, things I can read, examples of very effectie marketing processes and structures, would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance for your advice!
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  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    The business sounds very complex. You'll probably want to organize the sales function around industry/customer clusters and the marketing function around groups of products/technologies. Of course, both groups need to be sensitive to the other's needs -- a classic matrix organization.

    Are the products all sold under the same brand name? Or are they unbranded altogether and just sold under the company name? Is there any synergy on the marketing end, or is it all on the production end? Or is this just a collection of unrelated businesses, with no real economy of scale or point of synergy?

    My own experience with complicated product/market situations like yours is that the 80/20 rule often applies: you make 80% of your profits from 20% of the items. In fact, depending on how you do your accounting, you may find that you actually make more money (i.e., net profit) if you simplify the line and/or "fire" 80% of your customers.

    That's the kind of thing your marketing and sales people will need to address together.
  • Posted by rickshea on Author
    The sales function is already organized as you suggested and marketing is being organized as you've suggested.

    All products are sold under the company name/brand. There are some synergies in that some clients can and do buy multiple products, which are generally complimentary to each other.
  • Posted by rickshea on Author
    Also, I agree that the 80/20 rule likely does apply in some proportion and I will be taking that into consideration. I also intend to have sales heavily involved in providing input to the whole process.
  • Posted by wnelson on Accepted

    Michael (mgoodman) would smack me for saying this, but I will say it none the less. I have lived marketing and espoused two roles:
    • Provide sales with the tools to sell the product

    • Sell management on your ideas for growth

    I have found all marketing activities fall under these two maxims. Given that, first define your marketing outputs – what do you want to bring (that is value-added) to the business?
    • Market understanding
    • Size

    • Customers

    • Customer needs

    • Groups of customers given needs (segments)

    • Customer motivations – what affects them and to which media do they subscribe?

    • Competitor understanding
    • Strengths and weaknesses

    • How well they satisfy the customers’ needs

    • Your company
    • SWOT

    • Core competency

    • Value proposition

    • Marketing
    • Position statement

    • Marketing plan

    Next, define the processes that get you to these outputs. Once you have processes, you can look at the organization that support these processes. And roles and responsibilities for each member of the organization. And set up the measurements which allow you to monitor the progress for these processes – short term, even if the goals are long term, so you can see where you are. This last statement refers to, for instance, if you make a long term goal of marketing to be revenue – you need to put revenue on your marketing dashboard so you can monitor your progress.

    I hope this helps.

  • Posted by rickshea on Author
    I have to say that I only just stumbled upon earlier today and I'm truly impressed with how quickly everyone has responded and with the quality of your advice.

    I think where I'm netting out in general terms is to first focus on what I'm trying to achieve, then design the process to reach my targets and the measurements to determine if I'm successful and then sort out what kind of organization (and potentially outside help) that I'll need to do this.

    I certainly do intend to involve sales and customers in the process of making sure we are going to market with the right products. They are going to be a lot closer to the truth of why customers buy our products today and what they'll want to buy in the future than I can ever be sitting in my office!


  • Posted by wnelson on Member

    As Anthony (virago) says, focus on the goals of the organization first - what do they want from marketing? Based on that, develop the processes and measurements. These should be based on what the customers' needs. Sales can help you understand the needs of the customers. But, ultimately, it's about customer needs and how you can address them better than the competition.

    I hope this helps.

  • Posted on Accepted
    Rick, there's one area that seems to be missing from the comments of my colleagues, and that is exploration and understanding of the current product mix and HOW it got to be so complex and potentially unwieldy.

    You have the opportunity to function just as an outside consultant does -- that is, to discover more about the current situation and why it is like it is and where the gaps are that will affect the success of marketing.

    Now, you don't say how long you have been with the organization -- if you're a veteran with them, you need to put aside what you know and do a lot of fresh internal research (which is why so many insiders need to rely on outside counsel). If you are new to the org or an outside consultant coming in for a long-term stint, then you come without (too many) preconceived opinions or inputs.

    The objective is to understand WHY this got to be the way that it is. You seem to know that you need to pare down, build product marketing groups, and get Sales involved. But if there isn't an understand as to HOW and WHY these dozens of service offerings were created, then history is bound to repeat itself.

    You have the opportunity to drive a revamp of the system itself by understanding the processes that made it what it is. This is real value that Marketing can bring to the executive table. Much more than promotions and Marcom, this leads to real value for the CEO and the company as it is about business growth and innovation.

    As you understand this, you will naturally and quickly move into validating customer needs against the services suite as well as performing competitive reviews and confirming the state your industry -- all the data gathering needed to complete your analysis.

    And once your have the analysis, you will be able to present logical and exciting recommendations, as well as point out to the executive staff what we call "considerations to implementation" -- that is, those items that are outside the scope of Marketing (such as product development or an ineffective sales forecasting process) but that will hamper marketing success.
  • Posted by rickshea on Author
    Again, thanks so much everyone for your counsel. You've helped give some clarity to my thinking, some support for what I need to do, and some resources to help me along the way. I couldn't have asked for more.

    I'll close this off now, but perhaps I'll be back some other time.

    All the best to everyone!


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