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The New Blended Marketing Operations Model.

Marketing is in a constant state of flux. Pop culture changes. Technology changes. Channels change. Competitors change. Category leaders rise and fall because their audiences needs and preferences change.  

Marketing operations are no different. Do I outsource marketing or bring it in house? Should we operate marketing at an enterprise level or line of business? Is MarTech managed by marketing or IT? The pendulum swings back and forth between insource v. out, should we manage the brand at an enterprise v line of business level? Should marketing own MarTech v IT? Companies tend to seek one of two extremes, choosing one of two points of amplitude on the pendulum. 

The truth is the best performing marketing teams adopt a blended model.  

In-house & Outsourced. 

A few arguments for in-house staffing generally revolve around owning intellectual property, reducing costs, and exerting greater control over the marketing department’s output. While arguments for outsourced typically include operational flexibility, acquiring fractional SMEs, and speed to market. Both sides are right. Usually, companies need a combination of the two to be successful.  

By adopting a blended staffing model, companies can buttress internal organizations by creating long-term relationships with external partners. This blend allows companies to keep the cost of managing the run the business campaigns consistent while tapping into new skills, ideas, and areas of expertise from partner organizations.  

Blended staffing models work well when marketing organizations need to do something for the first time. Exceptional corporate marketers are exceptional at improving existing operations. Sometimes, though, when they are asked to make something from nothing, they faulter; not because they don’t know what they are doing but rather they have not spent a lot of time building at the beginning of a campaign, program, or platform. External teams like Coologee’s are always building from scratch. It’s why we exist. We haven’t found a blank canvas we haven’t wanted to paint on. More staff are required at the start of new things, too, to set up and execute the new initiative.  Beginnings are episodic which makes it difficult from an FTE staffing perspective.  

By blending external and internal teams, our clients benefit from retaining knowledge and lower costs while also launching new strategies quickly and efficiently. 

Centralized & Distributed Marketing Model. 

People do not experience brands as centralized or distributed. Brands are just brands to them; they don’t care if the marketing communications comes from one business silo or another. They do care that the marketing communications understand who they are and what they need, delivering an easy and enjoyable branded experience. Well managed brands combine a centralized, enterprise marketing function with a more distributed, business unit marketing operations.  

Brand identity – basically anything that makes a brand identifiable across communications like brand logo, look and feel, tone of voice, and campaigns –should be centrally managed at an enterprise level. The website should also be an enterprise function, with a team dedicated to UX and SEO optimization. 

Promotional marketing or targeted campaigns can be managed at an enterprise level if marketing has strong working relationships with the line of business managers. Lines of business can as easily manage their own campaigns in close collaboration with enterprise marketing and often a distributed marketing model works best, particularly if there are several business units that represent a smaller market opportunity or represent an emerging opportunity.  

The trick is collaborating at the media buying and MarTech level. Enterprises should take a centralized approach to SEM to avoid keyword competition, coordination at the tag management and measurement level to capture performance metrics consistently, and customer communications. Of great importance is the central governance of opt-in databases. Too often, companies have multiple bases across the enterprise that are not coordinated. If a person unsubscribes from one database, they believe they have unsubscribed from the brand, so brands need to have a coordinated approach to managing prospects and customer marketing databases. 

Marketing Technology & IT Technology Support. 

This one is tricky, and I dare say the solution is still emerging. We find many IT departments are designed to build or maintain systems that have clear, linear roadmaps. MarTech is usually not clear and very rarely linear. Most MarTech are SAAS solutions that are continually updated. API integrations between the SAAS can get out of sync. Data flows can stop. Brand websites are a perfect example of a complex web of interconnected systems, usually involving a CMS, database integrations, Google Analytics, campaign metrics, widgets, and apps. Update one and the others can glitch. Marketing usually knows when a change is happening but often doesn’t have the technical knowledge to anticipate other tech platforms that may be impacted by any given change. IT can be adept at software and infrastructure needs but rarely understands the marketing application. Many MarTech solutions fall between domains of expertise – between marketing and technology. Close partnerships are critical and very hard to establish. Just like marketing departments need to take a change management approach to implementing integrated campaigns, marketing and IT need to take another look at how they partner and put the processes in place to enable more agile and fluid cooperation. 

Marketing operations are a pendulum, swinging to and fro, from one extreme to another. But pendulums are only momentarily at one extreme or another. For the rest of the time, they occupy that in-between space, striving for equilibrium. By adopting a blended operating model, marketing organizations thrive no matter which way the pendulum swings.