Marketing Report
C-Suite support, training key to marketing transformation, WFA research

C-Suite support, training key to marketing transformation, WFA research

Top level support, the freedom to take decisions and investment in training are critical enablers for achieving real change and creating a marketing organisation that is future fit, according to a new report from WFA.

Marketing Transformation: Delivering the Future Fit Organisation finds that the current state of transformation varies widely between multinational companies with 37% ‘just beginning the journey’, 32% ‘progressing well’ at, and 22% ‘well advanced’. At every stage, the main barriers to successful marketing transformation relate to attitudes, culture skills and ways of working.

The research, carried out in conjunction with Dentsu SCHEMA, WFA’s strategic partner for marketing transformation, identifies five key differences between those who have made progress and those who are still in the early stages:

Half of advanced organisations have active support from the C-Suite compared to just 4% of organisations at the early stages of transformation;

Transformation is accelerated when executive leadership views marketing as a proven driver of growth. This is the case at 43% of advanced organisations but only 15% of early-stage companies;

A third of advanced organisations state they invest significantly in the training and development needed for successful transformation. The numbers are just 4% of early stage and 6% of maturing organisations;

Organisations need the capacity and freedom to succeed. Half of advanced organisations stated they significantly/completely gave this compared to 13% of early-stage companies;

Have a clear and actionable transformation roadmap. Eighty-twopercent of advanced organisations define a clear plan vs 25% of early stage.

The results are based on 56 respondents representing 51 companies across more than 15 sectors, spending more than $83bn in global advertising. All respondents were in senior leadership roles within their organisation, with 63% being in a global role, and the remainder having regional responsibilities.

Stephan Loerke, CEO, WFA: “Marketing transformation for the data-driven digital economy isn’t new. Most multinational brand owners have been on a journey towards this for several years. But the change in business environment precipitated by COVID-19 has accelerated the need for brands to future fit their organisations. Naturally this includes a keen focus on e-commerce, customer experience, data and technology. However, the cultural and organisational elements of change are equally (if not more) important than ensuring that the right technology solution is in place. Advertisers will need to be highly focused on a clear roadmap to ensure their organisations are future fit.”

Marketing Transformation: Delivering the Future Fit Organisation also highlights key challenges in areas such as organisational structure and ways of working. For many companies that will mean re-engineering legacy structures – 92% of early-stage respondents agreed their current operating model inhibits success, whereas this was only the case with 50% of advanced companies.

Key changes are likely to includemoving to ‘marketing in a digital world’ vs having a siloed ‘digital marketing’ strategy. Decisions should also be taken more centrally as is the case with 72% of advanced organisations, compared to 42% of early stage and 47% of maturing organisations.

The research also identifies changes in “ownership” of various marketing disciplines. Customer Experience (CX), e-commerce and customer data strategy are all areas where marketers expect to take increased responsibility in the next three years. Meanwhile it’s anticipated that several of the ‘traditional’ marketing territories, such as Pricing, will see a decline in ownership by marketers in the near future.

Other findings include:

Brands need a managed approach to test and learn: There is room for improvement across all organisations, but all must get better at replicating successes and avoiding duplication;

Skills change as the process evolves: Early-stage organisations define the key hard skills for leaders as data analytics and martech but advanced organisations focus instead on change management experience and business acumen;

Getting the capabilities balance right through the process: Marketing organisations need to find the right balance between in-sourced capability build and external partner support. Most choose a hybrid model, with more mature organisations in-housing across a broader spectrum from strategy to execution (especially in digital). The motivation for in-housing initially focuses on ownership of data and improving control but matures to focus more on improving overall agility;

Empower decision making and encourage informed risk taking: Transformation maturity is linked to the level of empowerment in being able to make rapid and agile decisions. Eighty-one per cent of advanced organisations encourage informed risk-taking vs 42% of early stage;

Transformation is more than just technology – It is critical that technology is fit for purpose and designed and based on local market level business requirements. All advanced organisations agreed compared to just 42% of early stage;

Data is a strategic asset – and should be treated as a core enabler of marketing transformation. Eighty-two percent of advanced organisations treat data as a strategic asset compared to only 46% of early-stage organisations.

Nick Broomfield, Director and Global Client Lead, Dentsu SCHEMA: “Maximising transformation program success is undoubtedly high on the ‘to do’ list of all CMOs. To thrive in today’s rapidly changing market requires a paradigm shift that will affect all aspects of how the modern Marketing function is structured and how it should operate. Fundamentally, successful marketing transformation is a people-based mission built around effective leaders who can take the whole organisation on a journey to deliver growth and sustainable competitive advantage. This study provides Marketing leaders with insights into what capabilities and enablers are needed within their organisations and specific recommendations to best deliver the ‘future-fit Marketing function.”