Decision-driven marketing

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The full version of this article is available on Harvard Business Online (subscription required).

Marketers have always had to build brands, create demand, promote sales, and help their companies earn customers’ loyalty. But today’s turbulent environment means they must play critical new roles: They must be strategists, allocating scarce resources to support company priorities and increasing return on investment. They must be technologists, tracking and capitalizing on the most useful of the sophisticated technologies that are flooding their field. And they must be scientists, because the future of their business may not look much like the past: Experiments that were once sideshows to preplanned campaigns are increasingly central to a marketer’s job.

Over the years we’ve seen many individual marketers try valiantly to take on these challenges. But most of them are stymied by structural constraints and capability limitations. Strategic priorities somehow fail to cross organizational boundaries, to the point where sales and marketing may find themselves at odds. The skills that marketers need often reside elsewhere, such as in IT or central analytics groups.

The gap between marketers’ aspirations and what their organizations can accomplish creates intense pressure to reshape how marketing is done. So where to begin? In recent years some leading companies have developed an innovative approach that focuses on the seams between marketing and the other functions it interacts with—the C-suite, IT, sales, finance, and so on. It is at these seams that communication most often breaks down and processes stall. To complicate matters, the boundaries themselves are blurring, and some tasks are moving from one function to another. The cutting-edge companies create a different kind of marketing organization—one that is less siloed, more interactive, and more collaborative, and that increases marketing’s value and effectiveness.

Aditya Joshi is a partner at Bain & Company, a leader in the Customer Strategy and Marketing practice, and the head of the firm’s Marketing Excellence area. Eduardo Giménez is a partner at Bain and a member of the firm’s Consumer Goods practice in Europe, with a focus on marketing organizations.

Read the full article on Harvard Business Online (subscription required).