HBR and Marketo Team Up: The Marketing Org for the Digital Age

Modern Marketing


Regardless of your company size or your role, as marketers, each of us wrestles with how to best set up our marketing organizations, and how we fit into the bigger picture. It is a challenge. Small, nimble teams? Scrums? You name it, we have researched or tried it.

That is why Marketo has teamed up with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services to try and figure out this multi-headed monster. On Oct 20th we will release a white paper that addresses the essential question we are all asking: “How do I create the marketing organization of the digital age?”

I’ve seen some of the early findings, and while I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, I can share a few central themes. Through our collaboration, Harvard Business Review Analytic Services has talked to some of the brightest minds across management organizations, academia, and some leading CMOs to help design an answer.

Recurring symptoms

Marketing teams live side-by-side, but in separate silos. Case in point, not long ago my insurance company offered me some information over the phone about their credit card product. I declined, but two days later I received a piece of direct mail from the same company trying to sell me on the credit card again. What gives? I already told them no!

This is a prime example of what happens if there’s no communication between teams. There is a guarantee of needless duplication, which jeopardizes a company’s relationship with the customer. The white paper will address this and answer, “How do marketing leaders at all levels work to solve this issue?”

Vertical vertigo

We all got here incrementally. Marketing departments originally organized themselves around traditional channels like TV and print. If you can think back that far, you’ll remember that the limited number of channels in the pre-internet world made it a non-issue for different parts of the marketing org to talk with each other. However, when the internet showed up and consumer behavior changed dramatically, the number of channels exploded.

Maybe you’ve fallen victim to this, becoming a specialist in email, social networking, website, SEO, and mobile… but regardless of the specialty, all marketers have the same target: the consumer. And that poor consumer is being hit with disconnected messages across various channels, even though the consumer is “channel-less.”

Imagining a new org structure

While we got to vertical silos incrementally, we may need to get out more dramatically. I met recently with the CMO of one company who tore down all the silos in her entire organization, replacing them with people who could think about messaging across multiple channels—from television to digital to social to email and beyond. This is the “hub and spoke” model, which features centers of excellence or service bureaus that all of the company’s marketers can turn to when they need help.

Imagine operating on a team that has removed layers of inefficiency. That’s the smart approach. When you think about your products and solutions across channels, you reduce the risk of “silo-ization” and overall frustration.

S.O.S. for the new DaVincis

Ripping up the old org is just the start. We all need to become DaVinci’s—marketers that can flourish in this new world. This will involve mastering renaissance-esque talents–becoming generalists—that let us span multiple channels and multiple modalities.

Now that’s easier said than done. Up-and-comers with the right skills have amazing options in this new labor market. But they are in short supply. And that is why we as today’s marketers must flex our broad muscles. As leaders tear down the silos, we will ideally have the space to tap into our full range of talents. They are there, trust me.

Change or be changed

This change is inevitable. A study that we did with the Economist Intelligence Unit revealed that 80% of marketing leaders think they will need to restructure their organization to meet future business needs. Any marketer who realizes the need for organizational change has an opportunity to help steer their company into this digital era. It may be painful to drive that evolution internally, but it’s even more painful to have your entire business and company disrupted by another company.

So find a way, and begin to invent your new org of the future.

Interested in more? Sign up for your copy of The Marketing Organization of the Future.