Organizing marketing departments

It is generally agreed and supported by research that the practice of marketing is undergoing many changes to meet the needs of today’s world.  However changing the practice of marketing cannot happen without organizational changes.  

Simply stated, if the marketing department continues to be organized the way it was 5 or 10 years ago, it will have great difficulty putting into place new methods of marketing.

One of the areas of greatest change is the area of customer experience.  In today’s world there is an qualitative and quantitative expansion in the way that a company interacts with a customer — or prospective customer.  For instance, customer support has gone from calling an 800# to online.  And it is online on the same website that is marketing other offerings.  Ordering a product happens on that same site, too.  Suddenly you have a need for integrating customer service, sales, order processing and marketing into a single customer experience.

But companies are not organized that way.  The customer service, sales, order processing and marketing are separate departments.  They do not have the internal organizational structure or processes for integrating their efforts.

There is a great gap between what needs to be done and what is being done.  

Our research shows that 82% of CMOs/Marketing VPs say that their marketing departments are working more closely with other departments that touch the customer.  

At the same time, 78% say that internal silos are the single biggest barrier to integrating marketing with the customer experience.

This is a classic example of how companies are working at cross-purposes.  The internal structure is getting in the way of meeting customer needs. They become self-defeating organizations.  That leaves an opening for a new competitors who have developed either organizational structures or processes that allow for substantially better integration.

So why don’t companies simply reorganize their marketing functions?  

We have  identified 3 reasons:

1. In today’s economy the role of marketing appears to be dropping in company priorities.  Shortsighted or not, it is a reality driven by the economic turmoil and uncertainty.  

2. There are few role models to follow.  Organizational consultants — the McKinsey’s of the world — look at best practices.  They benchmark other companies to identify models that have been successful.  This is great in a stable environment or where innovators have risen to highly visible success.  But during times of rapid change the benchmarking process points to the past, not the future.  

3. Internal resistance to change.  Integrating marketing into other areas is often seen as taking away the initiative and independence of those other departments.  There is internal resentment that becomes the underlying emotional driver.  Of course it is not stated that way.  There is always a rational and logical reason that each department has for the status quo.

There are companies and executives who will recognize the situation either through a moment of great insight or through a dramatic need to change in response to competitive pressures.  The change will come.  Marketing departments need to be reorganized and their relationship with the rest of the company needs to be redefined.

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