This is Part 2 of a two-part posting on how to create and organize a center of excellence (CoE) for demand generation and customer engagement. In Part 1, we highlighted that one must define the capabilities that will exist within the CoE and talked generally about the people involved. In this post, we will discuss the inputs and outputs to the CoE and what driving for excellence means, in practice.
CoE Inputs and Outputs
So let’s say you’ve decided to create a Customer Engagement CoE, within marketing, and they will drive all your inbound and outbound campaigns, engaging with prospects and customers. You already concluded which capabilities you will need in the team in order to execute.
Next, you need to consider the inputs and outputs to this organization very carefully. Why? Imagine a baker is determined to be excellent, the best in the county. They are going to master the best cates around. They will test different ingredients, ovens, temperatures, cooking times, blending methods etc., all to arrive at the perfect cake. If the ingredients were to change in composition every week, would that stymie the baker’s attempts to achieve excellence? Of course. So for our customer engagement team, if there is no defined process for submitting campaign requests, or offers, or personas, or buying journey maps, or campaign and event calendars, or communications cadence and governance rules, they will not be able to hone their results. They will do their best to manage the chaos, but don’t expect them to achieve continuous improvement.
The outputs will, of course, depend on the capabilities you put in the CoE. Let’s assume for a moment you put the email platform power users, the inbound power users, the SEM/SEO, social media, and event managers all in here. The obvious output is, of course, great customer engagement and MQLs/SQLs. The other outputs include:
- Content requirements to the content group
- Content engagement results to the content group
- A campaign calendar
- MQL/SQL results, broken down by product and region
- Technology, process, data, and reporting requirements to the marketing operations team
Driving for Excellence
So what does it mean to drive for excellence? We could just put a demand generation team together instead of creating a CoE, so what’s the difference?
Putting a team of people together, all driving for a common business outcome, does not make them a CoE. Creating a managed services team does not make it a CoE. The CoE label is earned if you direct them as follows:
- There is an expectation of excellence from this team. They will have precisely defined outcomes and goals. These will be measured and reviewed regularly.
- They will have a maniacal pursuit of excellence in the delivery of their outcomes. A strong QA ethic. And if the inputs do not conform to the defined process and expectation, the task is not accepted. For example, a campaign brief or blueprint is submitted with missing details, perhaps missing copy or assets, it is rejected. Nothing is allowed to interfere with the precise operation of a customer engagement machine that is being fine-tuned for perfection.
- There is a burning need for continuous improvement. There is experimentation and multivariate testing. The best practices are carefully documented and rigidly followed. There is continuous education for all team members. They are to become the elites in the industry.
- The team is empowered to task some measured risks, to embrace innovation, and to operate in an agile fashion.
It is likely that a new team will not become a CoE overnight. It may take months to define the inputs and outputs and the processes behind them, so that the quality becomes consistent. It may take time to find people who are passionate about continuous improvement and open to experimentation. New ways of rewarding performance may be required. But the extra investment in creating a CoE, instead of just forming a group, will be returned in much higher-than-average results.