What are the elements of a successful modern marketing organization?

The CMO Club, in partnership with Oracle, recently produced a CMO Solution Guide that answered this question by identifying 4 key themes in the organizational decisions of CMOs. To elaborate on these points, Oracle co-hosted a panel session at The CMO Club Fall Summit where top marketers shared their own examples of a successful marketing organization.

The CMO Club’s Sandra Zoratti moderated, while Andrea Ward, VP of Marketing, Oracle started the discussion with a 30-second summary of the 4 A’s – acumen, alignment, agility and accountability.

  1. Acumen

Panelist John Ellett, CEO, nFusion, cited Oracle research findings that CMOs pay the most attention to 10 top capabilities when modernizing their operations. These main skills include a focus on digital, social and data-driven capabilities to create a seamless experience across all touch points for customers.

Symantec, parent company of Norton brands, has implemented what they call “Momentum Marketing” to create content that answers customer questions about security in real-time.

How? By listening, leveraging mediums and testing.

“We’ve defined the journey, the customer mindset and the problems customers look to security partners to [help] solve, through all the different stages of the journey at different levels of the organization. It was a lot of process mapping up front,” said Alix Hart, VP Global Brand, Digital and Advertising Acting CMO, Symantec.

We are moving in a direction where instea there are no longer separate marketing, social media and analytics experts – but where that expertise is engrained in each team member. Likewise, marketers can’t wait for IT to implement, they need to bring the ideas to the table and have the technical acumen to apply it.

  1. Alignment

“As customers engage with brands across an ever-increasing number of touch points, aligning the organization from top to bottom and across all functions has become more essential AND more challenging than ever,” said Ward.

Internally, alignment spans from departmental functions to organizational mentality, where CMOs must make sure there are unified goals, achieved expectations and frequent, honest communication.

“We shouldn’t even call it ‘marketing’ and ‘sales anymore.’ We should just call it ‘Go To Market’ and realize that there’s a fluid transition between one to the other,” said Marilyn Mersereau, CMO, Plantronics.

Panelist Richard Marnell, CMO, Viking River Cruises, explained how he aligns the selling and post-selling touch points via email and adjusts the channel to function in a way that customers actually want to interact.

“You can create it or you can curate it – and Viking is taking both approaches [to content],” said Marnell. “We have an extensive library of videos inspired by the destinations to which we sail, which are a primary focus of the [original] content. We are also associating ourselves with the great content of others. We have an email campaign called the ‘Cultural Calendar’ where we select a local cultural luminary in [a] city then collect and package their recommendations for cultural events.”

  1. Agility

The days of setting an annual plan in motion and letting it play out with few adjustments are gone.

“The pace of change is faster – waaay faster – than typical annual planning cycles of most corporations. CMOs must adjust to create more agile ways of doing business,” said Ellett.

Consumers regularly communicate with each other in real-time and at very regular intervals, so it is implied that brands will do the same. Flexibility is now a resounding theme across all areas of business, with an emphasis on marketing and organizational design.

But is true agility in marketing really a feasible goal, or just an unobtainable pipe-dream? Susan Lintonsmith, CMO at Quiznos, not only sees it as a reality, but implements it daily in their marketing execution:

Quiznos uses mobile-hosted geo-targeting and contextual marketing to send content via SMS. For example, on a cold, rainy day, they might send a text message that says “come inside for a nice and toasty Quiznos sub.”

Evolving your brand’s marketing playbook on the fly can be hard. To start, think about it as a pilot strategy – with the intention to hone and the possibility of failure. It’s much easier to support something that is set up to evolve that it is to completely change everything in one go.

  1. Accountability

CMOs are finding new ways to instill a sense of accountability in their team members, often starting at CMO level. Delivering the goods, following through on promises and establishing credibility in your own right sets you up as a shining example of what accountability for other members should look like.

At the end of the day, CMOs and every member of their teams must contribute to the success of their companies,” said Ward.

For Viking Cruises, the accountability of each team member is up to him or her, as each individual has the ability to impact a customer’s cruise experience. So, how do you create a hospitality team of 50-odd folks [per cruise] that makes a trip abroad unforgettable?

Invest in the team early on, according to Marnell.

He recently told Travel Weekly that his company invests millions of dollars to properly train over 1,600 employees on board its vessels. Many members already have experience for the jobs they fill, but others are trained from the ground up, and ALL staff members are groomed to be good managers and leaders.

For other companies, data does the talking, and they use pre-defined goals to define the success of overall marketing efforts and individual team members.

“The curse is you have to decide what the most important things are to measure to demonstrate accountability,” said Heidi Melin, CMO, Plex Systems.

From creating a vision for a new organizational design to implementing each process along the way, brands are looking to CMOs to forge the path to marketing success.

“The status quo is no longer acceptable and you — as the marketing leader — are being brought in to lead some kind of change,” said Ellett in his book, The CMO Manifesto.

To read the full CMO Solution Guide, CLICK HERE.