Marketing Guru on... shaking up an underperforming team
When undertaking a review of their marketing department, marketers new to a company need to enlist their chief executive, HR, customer service and agencies for perspective, writes Mhairi McEwan.
Q: I've just started as head of marketing in a new company in a relatively unfamiliar sector. How do I quickly get a handle on how effective our marketing department is and report back to the chief executive?
A: Each business has its own unique culture, which could range from 'streamlined, pragmatic - get things done fast' to 'complex, matrix alignment - get things done right'. Getting this wrong can make you look and feel like a fish out of water.
In addition, FMCG marketing can be markedly different from that in, say, a mono-brand business. In the former, you'll have line of sight on most of what goes on and may be held responsible for much of the marketing agenda. In the latter, each team in the marketing function may see only a fraction of the big picture and people may spend their entire career in one specialist function.
Your first days in the role should be spent with the chief executive (getting his or her agenda clear), with your peers (working out where marketing fits) and with the marketing leadership team, for their perspective and insight. Assess how the marketing function is structured, the role it plays (or needs to play) and the talent and capabilities you have.
Ask HR to carry out an audit, outlining who does what and the profile of your talent. There may be people managing marketing activities whose job titles give no hint of this, and vice versa.
Once you have a grasp of the function, you will need to understand whether and how marketing must change to create better customer value and help drive business growth.
Start with the chief executive and business unit heads. What do they expect marketing to deliver? Ask agency and channel partners for an external perspective. Do the same with customer representatives, and talk to the front line - sales and customer relations - for a rounded view.
Then, plan a facilitated session with key marketing, business and agency leaders to focus on the priorities, agree the implications and build a marketing capability strategy and work plan to present to the chief executive. Ask for his or her personal support and sponsorship; without it, you can get derailed.
Lastly, ask for a great mentor, who you can trust and knows their way around the company. You'll need one.
Mhairi McEwan is co-founder and chief executive of Brand Learning and co-author of The Growth Drivers. She is a fellow of The Marketing Society.
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk
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