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"Marketing in many ways has gotten a pass from being held accountable"

Marketing accountability - are you ready?


The marketing world is changing. With an increasingly fragmented media landscape and the demands from senior management for marketing's financial accountability growing ever louder, companies need to re-invent their marketing organisations.

But there is an outstanding question facing brand managers: Are you ready to become an accountable organisation?

The challenge for marketing is clear: re-align for success, interface with key stakeholders across the business and provide quick responses in order to manage massive marketing investments.

Innovative companies develop solutions to face this challenge. As consumers take more control of their own channels and message consumption, the path to reach consumers has become ever more fragmented.

Marketing organisations are throwing away the old model to be 'reborn' as cross-functional, barrier-free groups that can affect and reach the entire business. Ultimately, the most critical factor is the organisational impact on the decision-making process.

By bringing all the relevant information together from across the organisation, marketing can make the right decisions at the right time to manage marketing investments.

There a series of five best practices for organisations developed in the interests in moving down the path to marketing accountability.

The five guiding principles can help marketers begin to ask that all important question: 'Am I ready?'

1. CROSS-FUNCTIONALITY
2. SENIOR-LEVEL SPONSORSHIP
3. VISIBILITY AND FINANCIAL CONTROLS
4. TRANSFORMATION
5. RISK-TAKING

The most successful marketing accountability programmes have an established budget in place, and are not funded out of the working budget of any specific function (unless a unique 'marketing accountability' function has been created).
  The majority of these successful companies dedicate at least 1% of marketing financial resources to the accountability programme, and almost half dedicate 2% or more.

In a performance-obsessed global society, companies are at risk of going overboard with measurement and becoming victims of their own numbers. Improper use of metrics and measurement plans can stifle the growth of an organisation - even 'kill' a brand.

In reality, metrics and accountability will never help a company have the next 'great idea'. Great thinking will not come from applying a metre stick to an idea. 

Marketing accountability is fantastic, but it must be applied along with the right tools, support and training.

Through a transformational approach, marketers can continue to deliver growth and innovation and ultimately win in the age of marketing accountability.

Assessing marketing effectiveness maturity

Because the shift to marketing accountability is transformational, marketers can learn from the experience of other functional groups and industries that have undergone transformational change.

For many companies, 'maturity models' have been used to help organisations improve capabilities in a structured and manageable way.

There is a five-step Marketing Effectiveness Maturity Model, which has been used for consulting engagements designed to help marketers improve their accountability.

Level One - Agency Hostages
Level Two - Brand Builders
Level Three - Efficiency Experts
Level Four - Customer Converts
Level Five - Profitability Pros

Marketing function must go below these single summary measures to the few key drivers of the business that may be moving interdependently, but provide a full view of the state of the business.