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Marketing Maturity: Overcoming 5 Common Roadblocks

One service we offer our clients is a Marketing Maturity Assessment to provide clarity into what’s working, what’s not and how to prioritize areas for improvement. The purpose of the assessment is to set objective goals so that an organization can progress in maturity in all aspects of digital marketing, including data, analytics, and targeting, to name a few.


But the assessment is only the first step. In our experience, there are often various roadblocks within an organization that need to be overcome in order to reach a higher level of marketing maturity.


Here, we share 5 common roadblocks to progressing in marketing maturity and how to overcome them.

1. Company Changes

As the saying goes, if there’s one thing that’s constant, it’s change. Whether it’s a merger, acquisition, or a change in leadership, there are often times when a company is in a state of flux. In the midst of change, confusion ensues and there’s a desire to “tread water” until the dust settles.


In some cases, that may be the best course of action. But we would encourage teams to identify “low hanging fruit,” or areas where they can make some relatively minor changes that will have major impact.


For example, it’s always a good idea to review and clean up your database. One of our clients had a new leadership team, so there were a lot of changes going on. The new leadership team was planning on making major changes to their data structure - a valuable project, but one that was going to take months. So in order to make some incremental progress we helped them standardize a few basic fields in their current database.


This helped make segmentation more effective in the interim period, plus it helped set the stage for the larger data project since those fields needed to be standardized regardless of the data model. It was a relatively “small” project, but it added a lot of value.


Change is going to happen. Try to stay focused on the things you can solve so you can continue to making incremental progress until your organization has more clarity and is ready to focus on the larger, strategic projects.

2. Organizational Complexity

Some companies are large and complex, with a multitude of business units and over hundreds of products. Technology’s promise of “it’s so simple” may seem impossible given the complexity of your organization.


There are a few different challenges this can bring, as well as possible solutions. Here, we’ll tackle a couple of them.


First, some companies might wrestle with how to deploy technology platforms across their organization. For some, a model that gives each business unit as much freedom and flexibility is best. For example, one organization we worked with standardized on a single marketing automation platform (MAP), but each regional business unit had their own instance of the MAP. This allowed each team to develop their own data model, scoring programs, nurture paths, web analytics, etc.


For other organizations a centralized model is more efficient. In these models, all business units and regions share a single instance of the technology platform. Global governance is established and each team needs to adhere to those guidelines.


Another example of where organizational complexity may manifest itself is in the development of scoring models.


Oftentimes, our clients tell us they need a different scoring model for each product offering because the audience and behaviors are so unique. In some cases, this is true.


But there are also times that once we get to work on the scoring models, we find that there aren’t actually as many differences as we originally thought. In those instances, we decided it would be more efficient - and just as effective - to share a single scoring model.


These are just a couple examples of overcoming complexity. But the main idea is to try and break down the problem into simpler issues that can be solved more easily.


In other words, complex solutions will only complicate things further. Focus on simplicity.

3. Siloed Teams

This is all about “who owns what” and the roadblocks that can be created between teams.


For example, as much as everyone loves to talk about sales & marketing alignment, the reality is that marketing automation and CRM platforms are typically owned by completely different teams. When we talk with clients, we’ll often get answers about how their hands are tied because their CRM team can’t or won’t do what they need.


In an ideal world - and perhaps somewhere in the near future - we’ll start to see organizations start to break down some of these silos (they also exist with other teams, such as creative, digital advertising, lead management, etc). If the goal is to create a seamless customer experience, organizations will need to adapt to become more seamless themselves.


But in the meantime, there may be some things you can do to start breaking down some of the walls between teams. For example, we have found it extremely effective to include members of multiple teams in lead management discussions and workshops. This would include members from marketing, operations, sales and CRM.


It’s human nature that we don’t always like to be told what to do - especially if it comes from a peer who works on a different team. That’s why it’s important for everyone to collaborate together to come up with the best possible solution. When everyone feels they have ownership in a project they are more likely to commit and follow through on the tasks needed to execute the strategy.

4. Legacy Platforms

Marketing technology has been around long enough that some organizations have owned platforms for 5-10+ years. In these cases, it’s typical that the “ownership” of the platform has changed hands a few times. And we often find that what was done in the application was never documented, so that “tribal knowledge” is lost once team members leave the organization.


As a result, we’ll hear clients say things like, “We don’t even know what some of those programs are doing but we’re scared to turn them off.” Or, “We don’t even know why we have those fields, but we don’t want to delete them.”


In these cases, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and conduct a thorough audit of the platform. Reviewing and documenting programs, campaigns and data in the application can help untangle the mess and provide clarity into next steps. You may find that some items need to be deleted, some replaced and others fine-tuned to meet what you need today.


In some cases an organization may decide the “untangling” of the audit is not worth the effort and that their time is better spent on starting over on a new instance of the platform. This may make sense if your budget allows for it.


And in other cases, there may be factors that lead an organization to move to a new platform altogether. For example, budget may be an obstacle to staying on your current platform. Or, you may decide you need a platform that better integrates with other applications in your marketing stack.


When it comes to overcoming the roadblock of legacy platforms, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. But we’ve presented a few solutions for you to consider based on your current organization, resources, timing and budget.

5. Lack of Internal Bandwidth and/or Skills

We’ve yet to talk with a client who says, “I have so much extra time on my hands.” The reality is that most individuals are already swamped with their daily to-do list. Taking on strategic initiatives to grow in marketing maturity may feel like an insurmountable task.


Along these same lines, you may also realize your team doesn’t have the necessary skills to leverage your marketing technology to its full potential. Perhaps your team received some basic training but doesn’t have the skills to adapt based on your organization’s unique needs.


There are a few ways to solve for these.


First, are there other members on your team who can take on some of your current workload? If not, is there budget to hire someone? In some cases, interns or junior hires can help with some of the blocking and tackling that needs to be done in order to get campaigns out the door. This can also free up your time (or another team member’s) to get more training or to focus on the larger strategic projects.


In other cases, you may decide that it’s best to outsource some of the work to an agency. For example, some organizations decide an outside perspective is needed to help them grow in their maturity. And in other cases, an organization may decide an agency can help with some of the day-to-day tasks, such as campaign execution, so their internal team can focus on strategic initiatives.


There are multiple ways to knock down the bandwidth roadblock, but don’t use it as an excuse. We encourage you to weigh the alternatives to determine the best solution for your organization.


Like any growth process, advancing in marketing maturity isn’t always easy. You’re sure to face many obstacles but the results are always worth the effort.

What do you think? Have you faced any of these roadblocks? Or are there some you’ve experienced that we didn’t include in this post? Post your comments below, we’d love to hear from you.

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