Reimagining marketing’s org structure for better synchrony

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What did you have for dinner yesterday? (I had turkey hot dogs – no judgement, please!)

What about lunch? Did you skip breakfast?

Americans typically eat a larger meal for dinner than they do for breakfast. Nutritionists would tell you that most people who enjoy their large meal at breakfast burn more calories throughout the day and snack less. However, my family (like many others) still enjoys our largest meal at dinnertime. 

There’s a laundry list of human habits that inhibit the optimal function of the body – just ask the makers of the “Squatty Potty.” 

Similarly, I can’t help but think that the traditional structure of the marketing department acts as a barrier to synchronous marketing. 

Marketing needs an evolution. 

The typical product, portfolio, demand, and operations silos result in a fractured narrative – an incomplete story that fails to address the changing information needs of the buyer as they research and compare solutions. 

There is only one way to be audience centric: Align pods to buying stage to ensure information needs are met.

The solution’s narrative should be developed collaboratively, and cross-functional tiger teams composed of portfolio, product, growth, and operations functions should work on programs that address each stage of the buying, selling, and retention process. 

The early stage team handles macro-level themes that define the status quo for the market for each segment. For example, is there an oncoming regulatory and compliance change that your market is grappling with? Is there a new competitor stealing market share from your buyer? 

  • Portfolio focuses on thought leadership and branding
  • Product focuses on how macro-level themes inform product innovation
  • Growth focuses on using themes in the market to attract and acquire early demand

The middle stage team is in charge of buying center education, and creating the trials, interactive tools, and case studies that give well-rounded context to a buyer in an active information-seeking state.

  • Portfolio focuses on sentiment and reputation in market
  • Product focuses on trials, use cases, and tools
  • Growth focuses on nurture and conversion

The late stage team is responsible for supporting the opportunity through to close both digitally and in the field.  

  • Portfolio focuses on references and loyalty
  • Product focuses on competitive displacement and differentiators
  • Growth focuses on field programs and digital events and experiences that can help get deals over the finish line.

The retention team is responsible for the onboarding and education of customers, creating loyal advocates through programs, and renewing revenue. 

  • Portfolio focuses on building advocates and influencers
  • Product focuses on customer tiers, features and benefits
  • Growth focuses on programs that promote timely renewal

By creating teams, or pods, that are aligned to the desired outcome of the buying stage, we realign the teams to a shared outcome, both near term (acquisition, education, conversion, and retention) and long term because a successful progression through each stage results in more revenue and better continuity of message. 

How does this work with ABM?

An oversimplified answer would be turning a blind eye to how diverse ABM programs can be. For example, 1:many ABM programs where the goal is new logo acquisition work with the structure above. Assign a cross-functional pod to each cluster and allow the team to make inroads based on the segmentation strategy. 

However, account-centric motions and executive engagement programs require a bespoke strategy, and should be supported by an ABM or field marketer who has access to the portfolio, product and growth resources necessary to execute their program.

Can Marketers find identity in the buying stage they support and not the role they play?

Aligning pods to the buying process would involve a reframing of how marketing is structured. It would force marketers to define the buying process and the questions on the minds of buyers as they progress before programs or campaigns were planned. It could enable better agility and remove barriers to getting programs in market.

It would break down the barriers that we see to true, synchronous marketing.

But alas, old habits die hard. I skipped breakfast and I’m making spaghetti and meatballs for dinner tonight.