As organisations grow, the operating frameworks of marketing departments tend to become more complex and fragmented. At the same time, marketing faces more complex challenges. Looking to the future, how can you maximise the organisational impact and effectiveness of your marketing services?

Navigate the marketing maelstrom and go beyond tactics

Today’s marketing professionals are challenged like never before. They face constant pressure to deliver targets and growth, digital disruption, real-time data streams, new channels and agencies to manage, complex stakeholder relationships, more social influencers, shorter C-Suite tenures...the list goes on.

It's easy to get carried away on the digital data stream, leaving little time for the bigger picture. In many cases, marketing has become more tactical, reactive and less focussed on longer-term strategic business goals. There may be a need for marketing to reset to deliver the needs of senior leadership.

Upskill and specialise

The services, skills and capabilities required to navigate the new landscape have exploded. The question arises whether to upskill existing staff on CX, UX, human centred design and the latest social algorithms, or whether to employ specialists. Some universal upskilling is likely necessary, so everyone has a bird’s eye view of what’s possible and can better direct internal stakeholders to the right solution for their needs. But functional specialism allows for appropriate depth of understanding of best practice in a particular field.

Humanise your systems

Collaboration systems, such as Basecamp, can help streamline processes and communication between divisions. But users should be sensitive to the best way to use digital tools to enhance relationships, particularly as new generations enter the workforce with more informal styles of communication. For example, tailor tone of voice to email, social and the spoken word. Messages can be ‘lost in translation’ through over-abbreviation which can seem curt to some.

Explore new ways of working that work for you

Traditional structures and practices may feel constrictive to a new generation. Those who cut their teeth in tech-driven start-ups will be familiar with ‘Squads’ of empowered, decentralised teams, and ‘Sprints’ of fast-paced prototyping. Growth Hackers subscribe to the ‘fast fail’ mentality. These approaches can energise established marketing departments, but they’re not right for all. They may be at odds with organisations whose lead business model is Operational Excellence, emphasising consistency and standardisation.

Make performance management more motivational

Performance management has become increasingly bureaucratic and less beneficial, research indicates. According to the Accenture Strategy Report, Is Performance management Performing? 73% of employees perceive performance management as paperwork rather than a true conversation, while 71% believe it doesn’t support the delivery of business objectives

Performance management can be quite simplistic (“carrot and stick”) but motivation is more complex. In his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Dan Pink observes, “Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.”

Pull together

A strong purpose and shared values may be the most powerful lever to unite people to achieve a shared goal. Ben Hunt-Davis of the GB Men’s Rowing Eight says his team rallied to win Gold at the 2000 Olympics, united by the single-minded goal, “Will it make the boat go faster?” In organisations, achieving this level of harmony may require a cultural advocacy program to instil pride and drive behaviours in line with your brand strategy.

Break down your challenges

The challenges outlined above can be addressed with the help of practical tools to analyse how well your divisions and organisation as a whole are set up to achieve your objectives. The McKinsey 7-S Framework highlights seven interconnected, internal factors, which need to be aligned for success. These comprise ‘hard elements’ of Strategy, Structure, Systems and ‘soft elements,’ namely Shared Values, Skills, Style and Staff. The most important element, Shared Values, is at the centre.

This type of analysis can help you gain a deep understanding of the inter-dependencies of internal structures, improve performance and align internal culture with clear guidelines and delivery tools. But, you need to be bold enough to challenge attitudes and practices that stand in the way of adding organisational value.