Conducting the Marketing Philharmonic

Authored by Biswajit Das, Founder, Brandintelle.

Imagine a large orchestra which is a combination of hundreds of onsite as well as offsite members (spread across the length of country.) Each member is trained to play a particular instrument. And while a few are regular members of the group, others are engaged to play their bit in the current rendition. The symphony is selected by the conductor (CMO) based on various parameters. The score is shared with the team members. All members must  be experts in playing their own instruments and completely familiar with their bit of the symphony score.
And everybody must wait for the cue from the conductor to start playing their individual bits.

And there's a team which monitors the pure quality of music output (viewership/clicks). And another who tests its effect on the target audience (sales). Now imagine that the score is constantly updated, based on feedback from these teams.

Conductor of the Marketing Orchestra (CMO)

The Marketing team is conducted by the CMO designate who works with his core team of VPs, Brand Managers, Planners, Marketing & Media Managers, Ops Teams, Procurement / Supply Chain & Marketing Accountants along with outsourced Agency Partners & Consultants. The CMO is supported by remote teams form the Regional/Branch Offices along with local Franchisees/Dealers. And takes constant feedback from the Sales Teams who are the direct beneficiaries.

The Symphony

It starts with selecting the symphony. Marketing starts with selecting the objectives & strategy to build the Master (Annual) Plan, which may typically undergo a major review every quarter. To begin with, the Master Plan is prepared by agency planners. Since this is finalized in collaboration with the Marketing team, how do you ensure maximum collaboration? During implementation, how do you ensure that the monthly plan is relevant, what with the constant changes in the business ecosystem? How do you record the progress? And finally how do you record what KPIs were planned & what were delivered?

The Music Score

Just like a symphony conductor shares the relevant parts of the musical score with members, Marketing can ensure that each member does his "everyday" activities in line with the relevant parts of the plan shared with the players. Just one example: regional offices should be provided with an updated blueprint to budget & guide their marketing activities for each period.
 With 99% of the activities outsourced to external vendors, it becomes extremely important to monitor all activities & record performance. How do you ensure that activity monitoring & bill-passing is thorough & efficient in a systemic manner (not person dependent)?

Real Time Feedback

In such a dynamic & widespread plan, high level course correction is only possible based on real time data.  How do you ensure data visibility in real time at the CMO / CXO level - for all these myriad activities (also called marketing investments)? And since the Marketing Master Plan must be linked to the Sales Master Plan, how do you track that ultimate ROI, viz sales vs marketing investments? In short, how does a CMO's team conceive, approve & track the Master Plan across multiple budgets, multiple offices & myriad activities via a horde of partners including sometimes franchisees/dealers? Let's see how things work at ground zero.

Ground Zero

As far as each major media & digital activity is concerned, a team of appointed agency planners constantly make plans, track deliveries & make edits with inputs & information from the Marketing Team. This happens dynamically over separate email threads, voice calls & text messages. This creates the first set of problems based on multi-channel communications which are not linked to the transaction workflow. On their part, planners are constantly in touch with their internal (agency) ops teams, directing them to cut & edit running campaigns. This is based on feedback from audience data as well as client feedback for sales performance of the product, category & competition. This results in a constantly 'meandering' path of activities to meet the plan objectives.

At the end of each billing cycle, the agency planners update the Marketing Team by making a presentation to the Marketing Team on "Pre vs Post Analysis" - to capture the essence of what was planned vs what was achieved. But Media & Digital are just a part of the Master Plan. Activation campaigns which ensure / increase brand visibility across markets are rarely tracked. Come to Regional / Branch office marketing: this usually means providing them with  monthly budgets & minimum instructions. Very rarely, Regional offices are provided with detailed schedules of activities for each month. Then there is incentive/discount marketing. And experiential marketing.

Not to mention managing creatives, consultants & competition for the various markets.

Marketing Platforms

In each case, the issues are the same: multiple channel communications not directly linked to the transaction, along with working in silos leading to poor data visibility. Every specialist (internal & external) is focused on his own area of expertise.
 The Master Plan cannot be orchestrated efficiently from Marketing H.O. without a central data repository of marketing data in real time. So it's not difficult to imagine that Reporting lags behind by a couple of months. And analytics exercise can lag by 3 to 6 months.
 And all this is because real time marketing data is not available in a central repository - although this data is available in bits & pieces. Which in turn is because marketing activities are executed individually in silos. A Marketing Platform utilizes information technology to help orchestrate marketing activities across the enterprise from planning to execution to monitoring to analytics.

 DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and does not necessarily subscribe to it. 


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