Top Down or Bottom Up?


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How does your business and marketing department operate, – a top down command structure or a bottom up approach? A top down approach can ensure the direction of objectives policy and procedure, but it can also incur stagnation, slow reaction, and stifle innovation.

Successfully getting and retaining customer business absorbs a lot of investment in order to produce profitable revenue, which requires its efficient organization. Commercial managers have the responsibility of producing and maximising profitable income for the long term future of the business, by anticipating and satisfying customer demands. This activity involves many diverse activities and disciplines, such as research, sales, advertising, promotion, planning. Organising and managing all these resources efficiently and effectively is the responsibility of the commercial manager

Commercial manager rarely admit to having all the resources that they think they need, but how well do they use the resources and assets that they have? As with any activity, if commercial operations are directed to achieve specific objectives, all the resources will require organizing accordingly. The task of the commercial manager is to maximize the level of profitable income while minimizing costs and the use of assets.

But just how well do commercial managers organize their departments and their activities? If the commercial manager happened to fall under a bus, how well would the business function without them? How easy would it be for someone to seamlessly take control over the commercial decision making and management?

The principles for the organization of commercial activities are no different from
those of other business areas and disciplines. A business organization tends to work best when its structure is:

* formal
* simple
* flexible and capable of adaption to meet changing requirements.

The function of producing profitable income by satisfying customer demand, does not operate in isolation, but is an integral part of the business. It is therefore incumbent upon the commercial manager to ensure that all personnel involved in this activity, understand how the rest of the business is organized. They need to know how the various functions and departments are subordinated, what their functions and responsibilities are, and the identities of the principle personnel. Commercial managers should have a similar understanding of how their own department functions, especially concerning who has what responsibility and authority.

* Do all marketing staffs have clear objectives, both individual and collective?
* Do they also have clear lines of responsibilities, communication and authority?
* Are all these clearly understood by all the marketing staff?

While businesses put considerable effort into developing an annual marketing planning process, in many businesses, much less effort is put into ensuring that there is an effective organization to carry it out. As with most business functions, marketing staffs tend to work better when there is a clearly under stood routine of activity. However, one of the most important aspects of any business or marketing structure is to be able to cope with changing conditions, and especially unexpected events. Efficient internal communications can ensure that all marketing decision makers are informed of all current and planned activities. This is especially important when marketing staff leave or are absent, so that others are able to take over their workload to maintain the continuity of actions.

Commercial managers must similarly organize themselves and their resources in order to deal with any change in market conditions or circumstance, and especially any unforeseen event.
What do the marketing team do if the projected sales do not come in as planned? What actions are to be taken if the revenue is below what was planned? Or what should be done if demand is outstripping supply?

When staff are trained and encouraged to make and enact decisions independently to achieve agreed aims, they have better motivation than those who simply follow instructions from senior management. Giving staff authority to act on their own initiative encourages innovation and the development of new ideas to meet changing conditions, inducing greater involvement and accountability.

* Are Staff Trained to make independent informed decisions?
* Are staff encouraged to :-
* decide and implement themselves actions to achieve defined objectives?
* look for new ways to achieve objectives and improve efficiency to meet changing situations?
* to have open discussions on objectives and their achievement, as well as all aspects related to customer relations and satisfaction?

Commercial manager should remember that the business exists for the benefit of customers,
shareholders and the employees on which the organisation relies. A full involvement of the staff in the shaping and actions of the business to satisfy customer demand profitably should be paramount in developing a team capable of developing a successful long term future for the business.

Nicholas Watkis, AE MA DipM CMC FCIM
Nicholas Watkis set up Contract Marketing Service in 1981, providing professional interim marketing management for a wide variety of businesses. Over 30 years practical experience in organizations, large and small, national and international, led to the development of Business Performance Maximized specialist in marketing performance measurement.


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