The Search for Ownership in Marketing

There was a time when I used to think that Content was the missing link for most marketers, especially the B2B ones. Marketers in enterprises work with offline firms, social media agencies, tech companies and design teams, but they struggle to create good, relevant content. So it was easy to conclude that Content was the missing link.

I was wrong.

Even if marketers find a way to get great content, it isn’t enough. Because they still have to show results, get ROI, and justify the marketing budget.

So what IS the missing link?

While talking to the marketing team of a prospective customer company today, it suddenly clicked. It’s ownership. Who owns the process to deliver the results? When multiple agencies specialising in different skill sets work for a marketing team, who is really responsible for the result? Each agency delivers as per the brief given by the marketing team, and the discussion stays within the limits of getting the campaign up to prescribed standards.

Marketing teams in mid size organizations, cannot possibly have all the skill sets they need under their roof. They have to go by what their specialist agency recommends.

What adds to the complexity is the fact that the business goals and marketing needs are still evolving for them. So an outside agency, possibly based in another city, cannot really understand the pulse of the business.

Marketers are now looking for ownership of results, not execution of bits and pieces of campaigns. The content, design, web, email, brochures, social media—there are just too many disparate specialist balls in the air.

During the conversation today I realized that marketers will heave a huge sigh of relief if someone came along and said, “Hey, let me understand your business, your goals and then work closely with you and deliver as per the plan. And then let’s keep analysing how we are doing and modify the strategy and execution to move closer to the results. And I will take full ownership of the execution, while you remain in control.”

I suspect marketers in mid-size companies are struggling to verbalise this.

Let’s face it. Marketing is now even more complex than before. There are more platforms, more tools, more ways to reach the end user today. While it looks simpler to know if something is really working or not, anyone who has laid a hand on any online marketing tool would tell you, nothing is as simple as it looks. And now, content marketing and analytics have become the key levers that require specialized attention. To add to the complexity, content marketing today goes beyond just text to infographics, audio, video (and soon emojis?) across channels, across devices.

What’s a marketer to do!

As a company evolving itself to deliver ROI-driven digital marketing, and picking up end-to-end marketing outsourcing deals on the way, we see marketers (and often CEOs) struggling in this manner way. We have dived headlong into an agile way of working, and go through lots of learning and unlearning every few days. We are not great yet, but we are improving every day.

And we are committed to be that team that will take ownership of the marketing goals.

1 Comment

  1. Sarita Rani  - July 24, 2014 - 1:24 pm

    Yep. But that kind of marketing ownership via content and digital outreach requires that the client allow you to be embedded in their organization.

    Much like the reporters in the Iraq war :-). Which by the way, was a great marketing coup among other things.

    By allowing content and digital marketers to be embedded in their organizations —-corporates make such marketing ownership possible.

    But then there’s the other side. What if they don’t like what they hear?

    Let’s say you need to tell HP their mobility services can’t be marketed any more, because there isn’t anything to market?

    (Only an arbitrary example, no disrespect meant to HP)

    It’s like embedded reporters having to tell the US army — we can’t sell the hero story any more? The war has gone on too long.

    But HP/America are too invested in their mobility/war initiative. It defines their next year’s entire strategic push. They can’t listen to you because they paid high-priced consultants top dollar to tell them what to do.

    No amount of marketing — social, anti-social, ROI driven or otherwise, is going to turn bad Product/war into a better Product/War.

    The point I’m trying to make is — there is Marketing Ownership of course. And I’m really glad someone is talking about it.

    But there is more importantly Product and Delivery ownership.

    More often than we like to think, Marketing, Sales and Product ownerships are in conflict with each other.

    The guy who makes the product is convinced he’s Da Vinci.

    The guy who markets it, doesn’t care if its Da Vinci or not, but he’s absolutely sure he’s pitched the stuff of Shakespearean poetry.

    The guy who sells it is absolutely sure he CAN’T sell it.

    Question is — who takes ownership of these three guys in one organization seeing eye to eye with each other to begin with?

    They’ll tell you they have processes to take care of it. That’s hogwash. No one does. Every single organization has this problem.

    So the bigger issue is of INTERNAL marketing. And internal transparency.

    Would love to hear some answers for that one.

    Regards

    Sarita Rani

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