17 February 2017 by Richard Parsons

If marketers are architects, how should they structure their own building?

Continued from my previous post

If marketers should be the equivalent of architects designing and building beautiful edifices founded on a series of platforms – the most important of which is creative – it follows that the way we structure our businesses should reflect this.

But marketing functions are often structured around products or media. For example, I often speak to people who are responsible for email marketing, or advertising, or digital. That’s a crazy way to structure ourselves in my view. It leads to fragmentation, silo thinking, and dilution of the core ‘big idea’ creative message.

Take social media. In some organisations it’s seen as an extension of PR – a means of engaging with influencers, trying to get dialogue and interactive conversations going. This can be effectively done, of course, as when Ford gave pre-launch Fiesta models to social media opinion-formers and asked them to create online content for them as part of the deal.

But this is taking a media-first approach, which says: Here’s this funky new medium, how can we use it? I think we should be looking at the buying journey the audience goes on. People within organisations should be responsible for that audience throughout the entire journey.

Now all you CMOs out there are shouting: That’s what I do, dumbass! And yes, you have overall control of the whole shebang. But go down a level and you often find organisations structured around media or product from then on.

What I’m arguing is that at this level we should have audience managers responsible for specific segments of the market. Their job should be to analyse the buying journey the audience goes on, then decide which media are best-suited to that journey. They should own it. There’s nothing stopping you having people with channel responsibility, but they should be subordinate to the audience manager.

The shocking truth is that I see few examples where this is done well.