Marketing team structures too often are remnants from the days of print ad dominance.  Sure they’ve evolved, but the core structure is often the same.  Modernization has been performed by adding ‘vertical’ skills onto existing structure.  Few organizations have retooled.  New skills such as SEO or Social expertise were added to existing structure and/or outsourced. 


Furthermore team structure that has evolved has come from changes influenced largely by individual staff strengths/weaknesses vs. team capability. 


Marketing teams advanced effectively with this approach in the past.  However, the tipping point has been reached. 


These factors play havoc on annual plans: 


  • Acquisition tactics are evolving quicker than legacy staff
  • Buyers expect value-based content, not brochure-ware
  • Varying modes of communication outnumber soft drink choices
  • Social media offerings advance in dog years
  • In-house marketing technology is a lynch pin of success


Marketing leaders attempting to address short-comings by adding ‘vertical’ experts are coming up short. 


Evolving your Marketing Team

New Customer AcquisitionB2B CMO’s are being asked to increase the impact of customer acquisition in 2013.  The output will not change if the input remains constant.  Evolution is constant in today’s world-class B2B marketing teams. 


Building World-class Lead Generation programs begins with assessing current state. This involves both demand generation best practices and Talent Management.  Borrow from the SBI playbook to perform an assessment of your team’s capabilities for acquisition.


While your team’s structure may not be perfect, don’t start with structure.  Many structure variations are capable of delivering results.  There may be structure changes needed, but don’t start with structure.  Focus on capabilities.  Gaps in key demand generation capabilities are what derail acquisition efforts.


Lousy team structures with good capabilities outperform ideal structure teams that lack key capabilities.  There are other dynamics involved such as collaboration skills and CMO leadership.  At the core of the issue is talent assessment, what are the team’s capabilities?  Download the Demand Generation team assessment tool here.


Assessing Marketing Team Capabilities for Customer Acquisition

Review your team’s ability to acquire new customers through the lens of total team capabilities.   This is an objective lens to understand gaps and alignment.


Demand Generation is your team’s ability to drive inquiries into the top of the Lead Generation funnel.  The total effort to generate demand includes strategic planning and tactical execution.  Review each of the capabilities to objectively assess competencies.  Use the following rules of thumb in your assessment:


  • Aligned
    • Staff are trained/experienced to perform this capability
    • Activity is formally part of their job description
    • Appropriate % of staff time and budget have been allocated
  • Gap
    • Staff have limited training, or little to no experience
    • Or staff are trained/experienced, but do not have this as part of their job description or do not have the available time to perform
  • Gulf
    • Staff does not have training or experience
    • Or this capability is not part of a formal job description, no resources assigned


Perform the assessment based on factual evidence.  Don’t bloat the results by giving credit based on what could happen if there was more time.  Your team must be trained/experienced, have the capability as a formal part of their role, and have the appropriate % of staff time and budget allocated to support.  Trust your gut instinct and record actuals.  This is your surest path to world-class evolution.


How to Analyze the Assessment

Analyze how the capabilities map to your structure.   Plot the specific capabilities to points in your marketing org structure.  This gives you a clear view of how the overall structure is aligned to acquisition. 


A high degree of scatter across direct reports and sub departments reflects a fragmented team.  It is not uncommon to find 5+ staff in the critical path reporting to 3 or more directors.  A conflicting priority among one directly automatically deprioritizes customer acquistion. Look to streamline direct reports. Be crystal clear on the top priority (Important vs. Urgent).


Evaluate marketing team roles against capabilities.  Without looking at names, slot the capabilities into the roles.  Analyze how the roles stack up as a percentage of demand generation involvement. 


Assess your staff in relation to overall capabilities.  Look for rare capabilities vs. commonplace.  Seek to shift common capabilities out of burdened staff to free these individuals for a higher level of unique capability allocation.


Identify Gaps and develop a plan to fill.  This may be done on an individual level through a Personal Development Plan.  Have your team research the ideal training and resources necessary for success.


Consider what you can stop doing today that represents a lower priority.  Shift capable staff resources to fill Gulfs in demand generation capabilities.


Locate major Gulfs and assign key marketing staff to develop a plan to fill.  This requires major new capability acquisition.  Significant training, new hiring, and/or a consulting firm is required.  The assessment shines light on a temporary team weakness for you conquer it.   


In world class marketing teams, the strengths are almost always yesterday’s Gulfs.  Filling the Gaps and Gulfs become a marketing leader’s top priority. 


Benefits of Team Self-Assessment

Consider enriching the assessment by involving key staff in a self-assessment.  Ask department leaders to assess their team against the criteria.   People by nature tend to be overly critical of their own capabilities so keep that in mind when reviewing their results.  Create a discussion around the topic to begin the Change Management process from the start. 


In Summary

Assess your marketing team’s true capability to acquire new customers.  Analyze and act on the results to turn weaknesses into strengths.  Build a world-class customer acquisition team.