When you want a new car, building one from scratch doesn’t figure high on the list of options. You’d need to be a serious expert mechanic to source all the different parts and put them together correctly, and even then, it would take a massive investment of time and energy.
Yet that’s effectively the scenario that marketing departments around the world have found themselves in. Modern marketers are living in an ever more complex environment, with more channels, more content, more touchpoints, and more tools than ever before. At the same time, marketing leaders are under more pressure than ever to drive real results and demonstrate their impact on the business.
The response of most marketing departments over time has been to reach for a grab bag of different solutions to address individual pain points. They might buy some analytical tools to get better reports, or workflow tools to tackle inefficient processes or institute quarterly off-site meetings to plot campaign strategy. And they can choose between around 8,000 different marketing technology tools on the market.
The problem is that these solutions only address parts of the marketing challenge, not the whole. Analytical tools are no use without data to build the reports, and those workflow tools and offsite meetings will be ineffective without a system that monitors the progress of campaigns and creates accountability around them.
The two biggest pain points that top marketing executives consistently cite are a lack of visibility into campaign effectiveness, and the lengthy time it takes to get campaigns up and running.
Visibility is obscured by the multiple functions — more than 20 in big marketing departments — that specialize in different parts of the marketing puzzle. Speed to market is slowed by inefficient workflows and processes, leading to an average time of 12 weeks from campaign ideation to activation, according to a recent Sirkin Research report that we commissioned. Too many marketers still spend the bulk of their time writing emails, composing PowerPoints, and having meetings about meetings rather than doing the actual work of marketing.
When you ask marketers at big firms about their pain points, the gap between the dream and reality becomes starkly clear. In a survey of over 300 marketing leaders at large firms, we found some 88% of respondents said that easily consolidating and reporting on campaign effectiveness is important, but only 24% said they are able to do so well or very well.
Again, 88% of leaders said that speeding up campaigns across channels is important, while just 37% said they’ve been able to do so well, with the COVID pandemic adding significantly to that challenge. Big gaps between importance and reality also showed up in the interoperability of martech, the ease of managing content and campaigns, and aligning strategy to budgeting and plans, as well, according to the research.
While there are individual tools that might help fix those issues, the problems won’t be fundamentally solved without an orchestrated approach. In today’s marketing world, where technology is driving the collapse and convergence of traditional silos, firms need a holistic, orchestrated approach to execute more efficiently and drive results.
To return to the car analogy, your vehicle won’t get very far unless the wheels, engine, steering wheel, and brakes are working in harmony.
Drawing on the experience of the most successful marketing leaders, it’s possible to identify the five necessary pillars of an orchestrated approach.
It’s vital to have a team that collaborates well, with clear workflows and visibility into what is being done. It’s important to know what’s on track, what’s behind schedule and where the bottlenecks are.
The importance and quantity of content mean that it is still king in marketing, whether it’s aimed at enabling sales or for demand generation programs. Collaboration needs to happen around content as well as in teams. Governance of the content, whether brand or legal compliance, needs to be incorporated into the workflows in order to keeps content flowing.
Content has no value unless it’s being pushed somewhere, whether that is through websites, social media channels, or to your sales team. Transitioning seamlessly from the orchestration of content to the orchestration of channel distribution is a critical component of marketing orchestration.
Good integration at the planning, team, and campaign execution levels is essential to a successful orchestrated approach. This encompasses proper integration of the crowded marketing technology stack, which can cause kinks in execution when poorly integrated.
If content is king, then data is now the queen of marketing. Good data is essential across all the pillars of orchestration to acquire visibility into how campaigns, content, and teams are working.
If any of these elements break down, the whole marketing operation is going to be hobbled. Conversely, if they are all performing well and being orchestrated effectively it empowers marketing teams to close those huge gaps between priorities and reality that show up in surveys. Marketing leaders also get what they want – to be able to do their planning on the front end, navigate accordingly as things change, and report back effectively on the back end.
Technology may be the biggest enabler of this change, but it doesn’t describe the approach. The approach is orchestration, and it’s the only real way for modern marketing teams to navigate the growing complexity they face and to drive better results.