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Frans Riemersma, 04 Feb '16

A Winning Agile Marketing Team Template

Agile marketing is awesome, when you do it right. Use this template to align marketing goals, teams and tools flawlessly. It's the quickest road to success.

“What are the main challenges in your CMO role?”, I asked a friend who recently moved to a vibrant Internet company. He took a blank sheet of paper and this is what he wrote down.

CMO main challenges

Marketing Integration is key for the future Marketing Organization

The topics the CMO wrote down reminded me of the lists I’ve recently come across. According to research the CMOs’ and CMT’s #1 challenges for the future are:

• “Complexity of integrating technologies“ – Informatica, Dun & Bradstreet

• “Non-integrated tech platforms“ – eConsultancy

• “Aligning marketing technology with business goals“ – HubSpot

If I would ask you to write down your main marketing challenges, I am confident to find similar topics on your list. To me, all these different surveys point to the same challenge: marketing integration, or “how to leverage everything?” .

Marketing Organizations face integration challenges on several fronts

On three different fronts marketing needs to integrate their organization.

On the marketing automation front there is the amount of Marketing Technology vendors that grew with 51% to 1,876 over 2014. How can you still find the needle in the MarTech stack?

On the marketing capabilities front there is a great number of new skills and disciplines to be added to your team. In the past few years marketers needed to add 14 new marketing skills to their resume.

On the business integration front, marketing is gaining ground inside companies and is forced to collaborate more closely with other teams. HBR keenly observed that “Marketing has become too important to be left just to the marketers. All employees, from store clerks to IT specialists, must be engaged in it.”

Does the perfect Marketing Organization exist?

Building your Marketing Organization will never be “finished”, let alone be “perfect forever”. If you want to benefit from the latest trends in marketing you need to constantly change. Change is the only constant.

With change as a constant, integration is a ongoing challenge. If your marketing structure is not “adaptable to change” your integration challenges will only grow bigger.

So, the CMO asked “how to leverage everything?”. Well, your marketing organization will have to start working with an agile operating model which embeds change. To constantly create value and embrace new trends, you need to optimally reorganize your “people, processes and technology”.

According to Scott Brinker, promoter of the Marketing Technology Landscape and the marketing Stackies, a Magic Marketing Machine does not exist. I agree, there is no “one size fits all” Marketing Organization.

Use Marketing Organization Canvases

The perfect Marketing Organization does not exist. But there is a variety of canvases available to help shape your Marketing Organization. You can use these models as an operating model canvas. Here are a handful of examples. Remember, there are many more flavors.

• Ultimate Marketing Machine by Marc de Swaan Arons & Frank van den Driest.

• Inbound team structure by Erik Devaney.

• Organizational Design for Modern Marketers by Jascha Kaykas-Wolff.

• Organizational Design for Modern Marketers examples by Mike Volpe.

• Marketing Team Structure by HubSpot (3D version).

How to implement a Marketing Organization template?

Once you have selected your canvas, you’ll want to shape it to your own Marketing Organizational needs and make it actionable. Transforming your Marketing Organization into an agile and adaptive environment, means to connect three elements conform the canvas of choice.

1. Connect your goals.

2. Connect your team.

3. Connect your stack.

1. Connect your goals

Add goals and objectives for the respective building blocks of your canvas. If you distribute goals and objectives this way, you actually make your company and marketing strategy actionable.

You enable your Marketing Organization, i.e. the teams and departments, to own their part of the marketing and company strategy. You ensure that your Marketing Organization is always delivering in line with the Corporate Strategy.

This is what you might call the establishment of a vertical handshake between management and operations. For a real life example see the HubSpot canvas below.

52% of overperforming marketers say that in their organization marketing is regarded as a strategic partner for business growth (versus 38% of the under performers).

2. Connect your teams

Make sure your staff has the right and up to date capabilities relevant for the specific building blocks of your canvas. Equip not only your team leads with the right skill sets; also support team members of other departments with the right skills.

This is how you establish horizontal handshakes (e.g. SLA’s) between the Marketing Organization and the rest of the company.

Research shows that “companies that have a talent strategy focused on foundational marketing capabilities experienced nearly 10% higher growth rates than their competitors”.

3. Connect your stack

Equip the staff with the right tools. All your marketing tools combined is what is called a “marketing Stack”. Have a look at the marketing software tool overview we created earlier based on real life marketing stacks, especially the Top 3 MarTech vendors per category lists.

The business integration, connecting goals and teams, are a “waaaaaaay harder problem than technology integration”, according to Scott Brinker. Technology integration are pretty straight forward steps: “You determine what data is available, and what data is desired, from one component to another. (…) You map the data flow, implement, test, and deploy.”

Our research shows that marketing teams focus on Acquisition tools (29%), Marketing Automation tools (22%) and Content Marketing tools (18%).

Case Study: How HubSpot structured their inbound marketing strategy and team

Working on smaller monthly goals makes it easier to prove the return on marketing than focusing on the big hairy goals only. So your goals will be“responding to change over following a plan” as the agile manifesto says.

An example of this principle we can show in the HubSpot Inbound Team Structure. Instead of forming its team by function, HubSpot organizes its marketing team following sales funnel activities as the canvas building blocks. It focuses on team activities, performance and results.

In the illustration below you find the HubSpot canvas. We have provided a tree-like goal structure for the highlighted area in blue. This is how you can work on goals and objectives in an agile and collaborative way.

The Hubspot Inbound marketing team structure and strategy.

Hubspot inbound marketing team structure

Making the team and strategy actionable by assigning goals.

Boardview agile marketing inbound team structure actionable