Five recommendations and one warning about B2B marketing org structure

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I’ve been asked more often than usual the last couple months for advice on how to organize a modern B2B marketing department.  With the growing complexity of marketing itself in today’s B2B buying landscape, many CMOs are appropriately grappling with how to organize their teams to best match that complexity.

There isn’t one answer for everybody, but here are five recommendations (followed by one caution) to help guide your thinking:

1. Designate someone to own the Voice of the Customer
When I say “customer” in this context I mean both existing customers and prospects.  Someone (or a team or people depending on the size and complexity of your company and go-to-market strategy) needs to own the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) as well as the key personas that make up the internal buying committee at those current & potential customers.

Ideally this person spends as much time as possible directly in front of customers and prospects, engaged with influencers and analysts that know them best, and influencing the consistency, clarity and accuracy of all outbound communications – from sales, marketing, customer success and more.

2. Dedicate someone to own attribution
This is probably someone in marketing operations, but I believe the question of attribution and Marketing Performance Management (MPM) has become critical enough to the future value and ROI of B2B marketing organizations that dedicated resources need to be applied right away.

Through our own experience internally as well as with numerous clients, getting true attribution answers in complex buying journeys is incredibly difficult.  But you don’t have to answer every single question to be successful. For every insight you capture, you’re able to make future (including near-term) sales and marketing efforts more efficient and successful.

3. Separate marketing programs from operations
Create a team of people who create marketing campaigns that gives execution direction/guidance to a team that executes those campaigns.  In larger marketing organizations I increasingly believe these need to be separate teams and resources, not because one team can’t or shouldn’t do the other job but because this structure creates more seamless, integrated campaigns across channels.

When marketing is organized by channel, inherently those channels aren’t nearly as aligned as they should be.  And every piece of research we’ve seen (including our own last fall) indicates just how important integrated marketing is (even more important than channel diversity) in driving marketing performance, ROI and sales pipeline contribution.

4. Create a single, integrated revenue operations team
This is more difficult as you’ll likely need to combine resources between sales and marketing (often separate budgets) into a single cohesive unit.  But only when you combine the teams, tools and budgets can you successfully align the buying journey into a single path, enabled through a more integrated set of tools and processes.

5. Campaigns first, field marketing integration and translation/localization second
Too often we give field marketing teams objectives and let them translate programs and execution locally.  This creates a massive amount of inefficiency and often dissonant campaigns and messages.  Instead, consider having a centralized team that develops campaigns that are then translated by the regional and field units.  This creates far greater synergy and efficiency, plus allows your in-market field resources to focus on more effective execution.

Finally, a warning:

I’ve seen a few companies gravitate towards organization their marketing team by stage of the sales funnel or buying journey.  For example, they have a team for the top of the funnel, a team for the middle, and a sales enablement group for the bottom.

This sounds good in theory, but rarely works in reality.  Why?  If done right, the majority of resources, messages, tools and content used at one stage can and should be repurposed in another.  An insight used to get a prospect’s attention and engagement may be exactly what you need later to help justify the decision (with that same decision-maker or with other members of the buying committee).

Organize this way and you’re more likely to end up with three interpretations of the buyer.  At best that will confuse your prospects.  Worse, it might send them into the arms of your competitors.

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