Marketing Accountability: Who Owns What, and Why It Matters

Who owns data quality management (DQM)? Who owns defining the program and campaign calendar? Who owns driving the editorial and content calendars? Who owns the coordination of digital communications with customers? Let’s address them one by one and create some guiding criteria for coming up with the best answers.

In budget discussions, we rarely argue over the very obvious line items that are to be included or excluded from the budget. We spend most of our time debating items near the cut line. It’s the same when discussing which function in marketing is accountable for what items.

Ownership is clear for items such as reporting, budget management, marketing automation platform execution, or digital property management. But the addition of marketing operations as a function, or the creation of a center of excellence, makes it tricky to pin down exactly which marketing group is accountable for what.

  1. Who owns data quality management (DQM)?
  2. Who owns defining the program and campaign calendar?
  3. Who owns driving the editorial and content calendars?
  4. Who owns the coordination of digital communications with customers?

Let’s address them one by one and create some guiding criteria for coming up with the best answers.

1. Who Owns Data Quality Management?

Within marketing, most would agree responsibility falls to marketing operations. But the real question here is if marketing should own this at all, or should sales operations or information technology (IT) own it?

Certainly, there are unique data in the marketing automation platform (MAP) that are not synchronized to the CRM. But much of the data is shared by both platforms, and the CRM is usually governed by sales operations. This problem is solved in some companies by merging marketing operations and sales operations into one function. Here are the criteria to help arrive at an answer when the functions are not unified:

  1. Who has the skills to report on DQM, can be an admin in the CRM and MAP, and understands at a deep level the data needs of marketing and sales?
  2. Who has the relationship with data vendors to support data cleansing and appending of the database?
  3. Who pays the licenses for the software systems involved, and does the licenses cost scale with the number of contacts?

Given the increasingly complex data needs of marketing, and the increases in budget allocated to marketing technologies, it seems likely that the expertise and therefore accountability for this function will shift from IT and sales operations into marketing operations over time.

2. Who Owns the Program and Campaign Calendar?

When a marketing organization has a field marketing team and a headquarters team, the question often arises: Who owns the program and campaign calendar? On one hand, the field marketers are closer to both the customer and the sales organization and know their unique market needs better than HQ. On the other hand, a centralized approach to program and campaign planning will ensure maximum reusability of developed content and assets, consistency in execution, better brand alignment, better best practices adoption, easier reporting rollups, and potentially the ability to focus on programs and campaigns that are delivering the best results. So, the criteria for a decision are:

  • Skill level of the field marketers for ideating, designing, and building multi-channel campaigns
  • Clarity of the brand materials so that consistent application is easy at the regional level
  • Ability of the content/creative group to roll up diverse requests from many regions to create a single content calendar without duplication of effort
  • Availability of creative talent in the field
  • Quality of best practices management and communications
  • Quality of inter-region collaboration and information sharing
  • Frequency of global marketing planning sessions
  • Degree to which regional markets are similar in their needs, maturity, and messaging

The dominant criterion is likely to be the availability of skilled marketers in the field who can design multi-channel campaigns including social and email channels. Even if the execution (build) is centralized, one could decentralize the designs if the skills were available in the field.

3. Who Owns Driving the Editorial and Content Calendars?

If your program and campaign design is distributed, wherein the field can create their own campaigns from scratch, it is likely they will want to keep control of the asset design too. Since up to 30 percent of marketing program budget goes to content creation, it may behoove us to wrest control of the content calendar any from the regional leaders and centralize it. Additionally, content is now coming in other forms than the whitepapers, videos, and PowerPoints we had in days past. Do we really want to foster creative agency contracts in each region? The criteria for a decision are:

CMO Accountability: What’s the Time Horizon?

What are CMOs held accountable for at the end of the year? Let’s say we invest 5 percent of revenues in a given year in marketing, what do the CEO and the board of directors expect in return?

What are CMOs held accountable for at the end of the year? Let’s say we invest 5 percent of revenues in a given year in marketing, what do the CEO and the board of directors expect in return?

  1. Incremental sales to the tune of 20x their investment?
  2. Incremental market share or new market penetration?
  3. Incremental profits?
  4. Incremental customer loyalty, customer satisfaction and customer value?
  5. Increasing shareholder value?
  6. All of the above?

Whereas sales representatives may have a one quarter horizon, can the CMO afford to invest in marketing functions with such a short time horizon in mind? In our post last month, we discussed these six major functions for which marketing is responsible, presumably so that they can deliver on the list above:

  1. Gather customer requirements, defining markets and the product/service sets
  2. Help create and retain customers with demand generation programs, content marketing, events, social, etc.
  3. Increase brand equity
  4. Channel marketing and technology partner management
  5. Empower the sales channels with market data, prospect data, competitive data and sales tools & collateral
  6. Participate in the support and delivery of the “whole product” to customers

Reconciling the investments in each of the latter six functions with the results described in the former list of six outcomes is a herculean task. So, let’s focus on just one aspect: Which marketing functions require the CMO to have a longer time horizon than one year?

  1. Defining the markets, and defining the products/services required to successfully penetrate those markets are tasks usually associated with product management (PMM). But the final decision-making requires participation from representatives in nearly every function in the company. The ROI period for these efforts could be three to five years or more. What share of the marketing budget should go to PMM knowing that it is a long-term investment? Most firms tie this to market share changes and revenue/profits that the PMM forecasts over a multi-year period.
  2. If the sales cycle is six months or less, it is conceivable that the ROI for demand generation could be viewed as a near-term investment. As a result, many marketing organizations focus their ROI reporting solely on their promotion and content budgets and ignore ROI calculations on many of the other marketing investments.
  3. Increases in brand equity can be measured, but it is definitely a long-term investment. The benefits are obvious to most: increased brand awareness, brand loyalty, perceived quality, and clearly defined brand attributes improve lead acquisition, increased loyalty, and lower cost of acquiring new business.
  4. In many cases the management and nurturing of channel partners, resellers and VARs lean on marketing to support these players with educational materials, training, and product information. Ie the Partner Managers are in marketing. Additionally, if products or services from an OEM are an integral part of the product or solution sold, those relationships are also managed in marketing by product marketing managers. The ROI for investments in these relationships is near term and can be measured.
  5. Sales enablement with tools, content, templates, training, competitive data target, customer and prospect data and market data is a requirement, and in most cases the ROI is both near and long term. The return is an increase in productivity in the sales teams and sales channels. It is easy to measure, but difficult to allocate how much credit falls to marketing initiatives. Also, much of the tools and content (but not all) will be accounted for in No. 2 above.
  6. How do you do an ROI on marketing’s role as part of the product or service delivery? If marketing is doing follow-up communications with new customers to ensure adoption and satisfaction how are the benefits measured? If marketing owns the e-commerce platform an ROI is easy. How about marketing communications around support contract renewals?

The long-term investments for marketing, at a minimum, are product marketing/management, brand equity and of course any infrastructure investments (technology, data and process). Brand equity investments are usually rolled up under promotion and demand generation efforts as if they were near-term investments. Investing in infrastructure is usually accounted for by tying it to increasing marketing productivity, enabling marketing to be more competitive, or improving customer experience (leading to greater acquisition and loyalty presumably).

The conclusion here is that the CMO is accountable for a portfolio of investments, related to different functions and with both near and long-term return horizons. The methods for measuring these returns vary, and the outcomes for the business from these investments also vary. The CMO has to rebalance the portfolio quarterly and they must adopt an “agile” approach without taking their eyes off the goals. Although for sales, this may be the most important quarter in the company’s history, the CMO has too many long-term investments to have a short time horizon.

Marketing’s New Role in Product and Service Delivery

This is the first in a series of posts about the three greatest challenges facing marketing organizations in 2018: Becoming more accountable, undergoing a digital transformation and evolving to put the customer experience front-and-center.

This is the first in a series of posts about the three greatest challenges facing marketing organizations in 2018:

  • Becoming more accountable
  • Undergoing a digital transformation
  • Evolving to put the customer experience front-and-center

The first few posts will center on accountability. It would be easy to dive into what KPIs we should have, how to measure them and so forth, but before we go there let’s define what marketers are accountable for in 2018. Analysts report a big gap between the expectations of accountability and the ability to measure it.

76% of marketing organizations are accountable for a P&L, but marketing accountability goes beyond just the profit and loss numbers, doesn’t it?
76% of marketing organizations are accountable for a P&L, but marketing accountability goes beyond just the profit and loss numbers, doesn’t it? | Credit: Kevin Joyce

5 Basics of Marketing Accountability

During our lifetimes marketing has been responsible for the following:

  • Gathering customer requirements and defining the product and service set
  • Helping create and retain customers with demand generation programs, events, social, etc.
  • Increasing brand equity
  • Managing technology and channel partners
  • Empowering the sales channels with market data, prospect data, competitive data and sales tools and collateral

With the exception of demand generation, it is difficult to pin revenue contribution on the other responsibilities. However, something else is at play here. Marketing’s role is evolving, and there are areas where we are being held accountable that are not on the list above.

Marketing’s Evolving Role

Organizations have always looked to marketing for help with communications. Marcom was a standard block in every marketing organization chart, and indeed public relations, press releases, creation of collateral and event management are already included in the five basics listed above. However, the need for customer communication is growing.

The number of channels that customers and prospects use to communicate with us has grown from in person, telephone, fax and events in the 90s to include: email, chat, a variety of social channels, YouTube, podcast channels, websites, blogs, user forums, etc. And which function in the company is most familiar with and engaged in these channels and technologies? Marketing.

Now, before you dismiss this as just an expansion of channels used in the existing demand generation and brand equity responsibilities listed above, consider this. Companies are using marketing to communicate new customer welcome messages, customer feedback communications, license renewal messages, satisfaction surveys, availability of training videos, programs to increase customer adoption, etc.