Can your marketing operating model deliver quality customer outcomes?

Today’s digitally-enabled buying environment has catapulted the marketing function even closer to the customer. Marketing is increasingly accountable for the end-to-end customer journey and having direct influence over the early stages of purchase consideration, including value proposition and demand generation. When adapting to this evolution, how can organisations ensure their marketing operating model is truly customer-centric, while also addressing internal challenges such as functional silos, loosely integrated processes, legacy technology and a lack of customer aligned capabilities?

The design of each marketing operating model will look different depending on the individual characteristics of the organisation. To design a model that is fit-for-purpose, business leaders need to define the role of the marketing function in their organisation’s growth strategy, develop a deep understanding of available structural options and determine a customer-centric configuration.

Future role of marketing

A good starting point is to define the future state role of marketing within the organisation. This should be followed by an assessment of the current operating model’s ability to deliver on marketing strategy and growth objectives. This will help identify capabilities, both organisational and individual, required for marketing to deliver on its future role.  

The role of a marketing function varies by organisation and industry. Typically, it consists of a combination of the following four applications, each of which can be more or less important depending on the specific context.

Connect-with-the-customer-diagram-1.jpga) Connect with the customer

The marketing function is ultimately responsible for understanding and responding to the end-to-end customer journey, with a primary focus on the early stages of awareness and demand generation. They need to use each point of customer contact to reinforce customer relationships, optimise customer experience and strengthen brand loyalty. Finally, marketing has a key role in capturing and acting on market feedback to improve customer experience and advocacy.

b) Generate demand

A key role for marketing involves shaping and delivering digitally-enabled campaigns at scale to increase demand and the quantity and quality of leads. This activity supports the organisation’s strategy to protect and grow market share in core products, while looking for opportunities to extend into adjacencies.

c) Support product and innovation

While traditionally marketing has led the process of constructing product and service offers and aligning these to segment-specific value propositions, the role has extended to embedding innovation within the organisation and driving growth by staying ahead of the curve around customer and channel engagement. To help promote innovation in product development, marketing can play a key role in capturing, analysing and feeding market insights back into the business to improve processes from ideation through to commercialisation.

d) Enable sales and service engine

The marketing team should also support the design and orchestration of customer journeys for improving lead conversion into sales. They will help manage and qualify leads and opportunities at scale, resulting in more efficient and better quality sales conversations. At a more strategic level,  the marketing function defines the customer promise and segment value propositions that guide the design of the service offer.

Determining the optimal configuration

Once the future state role of marketing has been defined, the optimal operating structure will be guided by several factors including:

  • The variability and complexity of marketing planning and operations required in chosen markets
  • The level of local market knowledge and marketing specialisation required to successfully undertake specific activities
Each activity undertaken by the marketing function can be classified into one of four quadrants:



The optimal structure for each organisation will be defined along these axes, with the following options available:
  • Low regional variation: Large, frequently-used commoditised functions could be structured as a shared service and managed for efficiency. Where there is a need for consistency, scale and specialisation in functions such as brand strategy, insights and analytics, a global centre of excellence might be appropriate.  
  • High regional variation: Where there are significant local market nuances, usually in marketing execution, the function needs to be managed regionally, either embedded within the local business or the business partnering in a regional centre of excellence. For instance, organisations which operate in markets that are complex, regulated or dominated by raw material suppliers, such as industrial or agricultural products, will benefit from the marketing team working closely with sales, service and supply chain.
In general, marketing functions need some level of specialised knowledge and benefit from a single reporting line. Strategy and planning functions are best held centrally, with execution and frontline support devolved into regions and business units.

Organising capabilities to execute marketing strategy

Once the configuration and structure has been designed, business leaders will need to consider the appropriate scale and mix of resourcing required to deliver on the marketing strategy and customer value proposition. Finally, the structure needs to be supported with the appropriate enablers – role and responsibility definitions, decision rights, operating rhythms, internal and cross-functional information sharing and collaboration, and aligned KPIs and incentives.

In a digitally-enabled customer-centric organisation, marketing teams require a range of capabilities spanning from strategy and innovation to data-driven analytics and insights, to execution and operational excellence. These capabilities will have people, process and technology complexities depending on each organisation’s industry, customers and products. The marketing function needs to be agile in operation and evolutionary in structure to adapt to the changing customer, channels and competitors – both existing and emerging. This will ensure the team continues to fulfil its role and deliver on its purpose for both customers and the business, as the strategic context inevitably changes.

A fit-for-purpose model

As the marketing function shifts closer to the customer, organisations will need to undergo fundamental and rapid transformation to build customer relationships within the digital world. A fit-for-purpose marketing operating model must be enabled by people, process and technology while remaining focused on the customer. Through this, marketing teams can adjust to a more accountable and revenue-focused way of working and deliver sustainable changes in quality customer outcomes.

Find out more:

For further information on how to improve marketing effectiveness and break down organisational silos, read our whitepaper, Integrating Marketing & Sales Execution, or find out how Blackdot can assist with marketing operating models.

Worded by Shiv Singh