The concept of Marketing serving as a Center of Excellence (CoE) within an organization is beginning to see traction. In their recent 2017 Marketing Benchmark Report: Centers of Excellence Key to Boost MarTech Adoption and Maturity, Marketo identified a variety of challenges and opportunities facing marketers that can be more easily overcome when Marketing operates as a CoE. Marketo insists that Marketing organizations must operate as CoEs to eliminate the inefficiencies of being a siloed organization. Recently, the American Marketing Associate declared that "to keep up with marketing's continuous evolution, companies could get a jump on their competitors by creating a "center of excellence."
How to Drive Repeatable and Predictable Marketing Performance
A CoE entails more than centralizing your Marketing or consolidating your suppliers. A CoE serves as a way to develop and deploy best practice processes, discover new approaches, and continuously improve the functionality of your operations. In effect, a CoE is at the heart of performance management. At its most fundamental level, a CoE facilitates operational transformation. For Marketing specifically, a CoE provides your company with a way to merge more closely into your markets and make you more relevant to your customers.
Gartner defines "a COE as a physical or virtual center of knowledge concentrating existing expertise and resources in a discipline or capability to attain and sustain world-class performance and value." Successful CoEs focus on a specific capability in order to optimize internal processes and resources. Marketing CoEs, to use the vernacular of Allocadia, are about more about how you "run" and "do" your Marketing not how you manage your external suppliers and agencies. In essence, a CoE's primary focus is to push the organization beyond standard performance norms to deliver incremental value.
The broader the processes and resources covered by your Marketing CoE, the greater the potential impact on your organization. As it should. At its best, your Marketing CoE will help you see beyond the four walls of your organization to understand the implications of Marketing for customers and suppliers.
Creating a Marketing CoE takes a significant investment of aptitude, time, and assets. Therefore, it is critical to establish clear criteria of success for both the operation of the CoE and its impact on the organization. As much as possible, define success in terms of value to business. Some examples include:
- Enforcing standard processes and best practices to improve time to market by X%, improve customer experience for A by X%, etc.
- Improving employee decision making, competency, and proficiency in X (such as analytics or metrics selection) resulting in Y improvement on time to decision.
- Improving quality in areas such as: quality of new opportunities, quality of the win rate, etc.
Ideally, your CoE would measure its value in terms of positive changes related to performance, productivity, customer value, competitiveness, and cost – all of which are results that should resonate with your C-Suite. Even so, making the decision to pull the trigger and form a CoE should be based on strategic and business improvement outcomes.
Do you need to build a Marketing CoE? If you answer yes to one or more of these three questions, we recommend that you do so.
- You need to improve specific capabilities for all Marketers that are important to producing mission critical business results (such as growth).
- You need all your Marketers to have knowledge about a particular area (such as customer experience or customer-centric marketing), and the knowledge is difficult to acquire.
- Centralized processes would improve performance and quality parameters.
CoEs take care and upkeep. As you can imagine, considerations associated with a CoE include scope, staffing, governance, performance measurement, systems/tools, and of course operating budget. Realistically, you should only undertake the transformation of your Marketing into a CoE when you want:
- Well-orchestrated Marketing strategies based on insights derived from quality data.
- Informal, consistent, customer-centric approach to Marketing and its associated processes.
- Marketing that is aligned with the organization's outcomes.
- Adoption of specific performance management processes.
When properly implemented, your Marketing CoE should drive repeatable, predictable, and scalable performance. Are you ready for a reorientation to your Marketing? Begin easing into the transformation with this white paper: What You Must Know About Marketing Centers of Excellence: A Why and How Primer.