To run a successful marketing plan and budget, it’s important to identify and manage your team. This chapter talks about the key stakeholders in the delivery of a successful plan. If you operate in a large company, you may have multiple team members in many of the key stakeholder roles. If you work in a small company, you may find that one or two individuals wear most of the stakeholder hats between them.You will also likely find that some of the stakeholder roles are filled by people who aren’t full-time employees (FTE) but are instead carried out by contractors, consultants, or agencies. How the stakeholder roles are filled is less important for the purposes of this topic than understanding what the roles are, and ensuring that the responsibilities are understood and owned by someone on your team.
This chapter outlines the team you will need around you to maximize your chances of achieving your marketing goals on budget and on time. First, it covers the key stakeholder roles, and then it introduces a responsibility matrix to help you assign accountability throughout your team, so everyone understands what they own, what they influence, and what they need to know at all times throughout the year.
The 7 stakeholders of a marketing plan and budget
The CMO (or VP of Marketing, if that’s how your company is structured) is the executive leader and owner of the marketing plan and budget. The CMO is accountable for committing the marketing organization to achieve a certain set of valuable outcomes given a budget that they negotiate with the company. Once they have buy-in and support from their CEO and executive peers, the CMO must clearly communicate the goals, metrics of success, and high-level strategies to the broader marketing organization. They must ensure team alignment, and delegate responsibility for (1) spending budget (2) executing campaigns (3) reporting on results throughout the team.
One or more marketing directors typically report to the CMO. They are often responsible for a marketing function, such as PR, Demand Gen, or Product Marketing. Depending on the company structure, they might be responsible for a region. Given their seniority and the nature of their role, Marketing Directors typically are given responsibility for a portion of the budget, and then it’s up to them to figure out how to spend that across campaigns and other activities in order to achieve the marketing goals they’ve understood from the CMO. It is the Marketing Director’s responsibility to ensure that a clear understanding of goals, target metrics, timeframes, and strategy is clearly understood by their team members.
Figure 1. The marketing plan and budget stakeholder chart
Campaign managers are accountable for designing, coordinating, and executing the campaigns that will achieve the marketing goals. They are often functional specialists. For example, there may be a digital demand campaign manager or someone dedicated to running the company’s events. They frequently receive a target budget from one or more of the Marketing Directors, which defines the spending envelope for their particular campaign, Campaign managers must be operationally strong, have excellent project management and coordination skills, and possess superior communication capabilities.
Marketing Individual Contributors
Marketing IC’s are typically responsible for the majority of the actual spending in a marketing budget. They will source and purchase the items and services necessary for running the campaign. As such, they need to possess both marketing and financial acumen. They need to be detail-oriented and rigorous in updating their activities and data to ensure that campaigns are executed well and on time, and to ensure there is always current and accurate metric and expense data on hand to generate meaningful reports.
The fastest-growing role in marketing organizations, Marketing Ops is a multi-disciplinary role that encompasses finance, technology, analytical, operational, and marketing skills. Marketing operations influences plan and budget set up, enable the team to be successful by implementing and monitoring the tools, systems, and data they need to execute effectively, and captures, synthesizes, and reports on the progress of the marketing plan and budget, including forecasts and recommended course-corrections.
Sales is a critical stakeholder for almost every marketing organization. Since marketing is largely occupied with generating awareness and interest in a company’s offerings in order for sales to close deals on those offerings, it is of paramount importance that Sales and Marketing are well-aligned at the beginning of the planning and budgeting cycle. Sales needs to understand what it can expect from marketing, and what it should not expect. The sales leader must ensure there are sufficient sales resources to handle the pipeline generated by marketing, and marketing likewise needs to be sure that it is neither over- nor under-feeding the sales team with well-qualified leads. As the year progresses, sales represents one of the most important voices in terms of gauging progress and identifying needed course corrections in the marketing plan.
No other function spends like marketing. Everyone in marketing spends, and they spend quickly on hugely diverse items from incidental expenses to major investments. A strong relationship between finance and marketing will make everyone’s - and I mean everyone’s - life easier in the company. Marketing needs to make friends with finance, align processes, understand mutual accountabilities, and work together to ensure marketing budget and expense data is kept as current and accurate as possible. Fresh financial data means that marketers can make confident, well-informed purchasing decisions at the rate they need to in order to achieve their marketing goals on time. Inefficient finance-marketing relationships create budget, execution, and business risk.
A note on IT
There is an argument that IT should be one of the key stakeholders in the delivery of a successful marketing plan and budget, and you will not witness strong pushback on that idea here. Indeed, as MarTech becomes more powerful and more diverse, the partnership between marketing and IT is critical. I have chosen not to include IT in this view for two reasons. The first is an effort to keep the model succinct. The second is that a strong Marketing Operations leader can and should act as an effective liaison between marketing and IT, so I decided not to include IT in addition. If you think it makes sense to include IT as a key stakeholder in your plan and budget, you should go for it.
The IOU model: accountability among the marketing stakeholders
It’s critically important that the marketing stakeholders understand the IOU model, which is a simplified version of a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) model.
- The I in IOU stands for influence (i.e. an influencer is not ultimately responsible for a task, but they should be involved in defining and shaping the task).
- O stands for own. If a stakeholder owns a task, the buck stops with them - they are ultimately responsible for the definition and outcome of a task.
- The U stands for understand. If a stakeholder is required to understand a task, they may not be involved in its creation or definition, but they are accountable to the team and themselves for understanding how something affects them, and what they need to do to contribute towards a task.
The Marketing IOU chart is outlined below, mapping accountability levels for the key tasks in creating and running a successful marketing plan and budget.
Figure 2. The marketing plan and budget IOU chart
If you are able to identify the stakeholders and the IOU model for your marketing organization, you will have a significantly greater chance of success in delivering your marketing plan. You will achieve greater clarity throughout your organization, higher efficiency, and more accurate communication and data sharing. Your stakeholder and IOU model might look slightly different to the examples shared in this blog, but if you apply this framework in a way that makes sense for your organization, your marketing organization will benefit throughout the year.
7 Cultural Traits of Successful Marketing Teams
Successful marketing teams require a broad set of characteristics that make the function unlike any other in an organization. These teams require a unique blend of skill sets that span multiple dimensions, including:
- Long-term strategic thinking coupled with superior execution skills for the here-and-now
- Creativity coupled with detail-oriented quantitative skills - sometimes referred to as left- and right-brained thinking
- Financial acumen
- Technical sophistication
- The ability to make and justify changes in direction while staying true to the overarching strategy and objectives
- Great project management
- An appreciation for other functions: sales (especially sales), finance, IT, product, at least, and maybe others like hardcore research, depending on its industry focus
- More so than most functions, marketers must be able to source and negotiate deals with high quality consultants and contractors, and then partner with those same outsourced service providers to deliver brilliant marketing results
I’m sure you could extend this list based on your experiences. The point is, it’s a lot, and the required skills are diverse. If you work in a big company, you might have many individuals who neatly address those needs. If you work in a smaller company, you may need to hire people who can wear multiple hats.
The culture of your marketing team depends on a few things: the marketing leaders, the broader company culture, the team members, and the external market environment. While you might argue that the characteristics we outline below would apply to a successful team in any function, and it’s true that many of them are transferable, we believe this is the combination most relevant to the marketing function. We introduce the key elements of a successful culture, and offer a self-assessment at the end of the blog.
1. Goal driven planning
You may have noticed this is something we believe in at Plannuh ;) If you don’t set goals, then any outcome is justifiable. If you only measure what’s easy to measure you prioritize the wrong things. Successful teams identify their topline objectives and identify the measures that objectively prove whether those goals have been attained or not. Importantly, those teams embrace the data if they don’t achieve their goals - but more on that below.
Culturally, transparency is as important as anything. Blame culture (“Who screwed this up?”, “Who did this?”, “Who’s responsible for this over-run?”) drives opacity - it’s the opposite of a transparent culture. In a blame culture, avoiding taking the heat for issues becomes more important than raising and resolving issues before they become problems. A lack of transparency invites office politics, where perception matters more than facts. As the cliche goes, sunshine is the best disinfectant, and transparent team cultures are more harmonious and effective.
What does transparency mean though? It means sharing data with everyone, with no sugar coating. Share the goals. Share the strategy. Share the tactics. Share the progress. Share the results, the lessons learned, and the next steps.
Transparent teams make hard decisions as needed and explain why they needed to be made. Transparent teams invite debate, embrace the intellect of the entire team, and explain when, how and why they’ve made the decisions they’ve made. Transparent cultures are fantastic, but they can be difficult to sustain unless the whole team embraces the concept and commits to it. Everyone has to be comfortable with being uncomfortable sometimes: when they need help, when their results suck, when they don’t know what to do. If they’re working well, they engender fantastic teamwork, superior alignment, and incredible trust.
3. A data-driven approach to decision making
There are few disciplines as data-poor as marketing. There’s an ocean of certain types of data, typically digital traffic data, but ask the next marketer, marketing director, VP of Marketing or CMO how their marketing investments stack up against industry peers and you will not likely get a satisfying answer. Is our marketing budget right-sized for our kind of company and strategy? Are we investing in the right goals? Are we investing enough? Are we setting the right goals? Are we setting challenging but realistic targets? Almost no-one knows the answers to these questions because until Plannuh's marketing budget management software, no-one has made the data available in the same platform that houses your budgets and plans. Once you can benchmark yourself against companies like you, you are in a position to make better decisions, more quickly, with greater confidence. Once you know whether your marketing plan, budget, strategy, tactics and results are normal or outliers, you are in a better position to make adjustments with confidence.
If you don’t have access to benchmarking data - or choose not to avail yourself of it in Plannuh - then you are operating in something of a vacuum. In that scenario, you should seek out opportunities to get a peer-review of your plan, strategy, and outcomes. Seek out industry peers whose opinion you respect and get their feedback. Of course, you should offer to reciprocate for your peers - besides being the right thing to do this will expose you to more data from people you respect, and help you make better decisions in the future.
Finally, you should ensure that you are able to capture numbers from your plan and budget in a way that enables quantitative analysis. Are you accurately capturing 100% of the expenses that go into key campaigns? Are you accurately aligning that spending data against your campaign metrics so you can understand your complete campaign ROI? If not, seek technology platforms that can help you organize and track your data to provide these insights.
4. Role clarity
This seems obvious, but it is an insidious cultural issue. When a team starts out, everyone has a clear role definition and set of responsibilities - at least, they should. As the team evolves, the company grows, and the world changes, roles change in unspoken ways. There is scope creep. Specific talents emerge that encourage the company to concentrate certain tasks on individuals. Team members’ ambitions drive them to seek broader, or different, roles. Before you know it, people are not working on the things they were hired to do, or they’re not working on the things the company really needs them to do. It may seem important, it may be important, but if there is not role clarity, the team cannot be successful.
From the manager to the individual contributor, it is everybody’s responsibility to maximize role clarity. If you know your role, your priorities, your success metrics, your likelihood of success is much higher. If you know the same information for your team-members, and they know yours, then you are much more likely to be operating in a high-performing team.
5. Mutual support and accountability
Teams that support each other consistently achieve better outcomes, and are happier. Mutual support entails mutual accountability. When teams feel as if any individual’s win is everyone’s win, and any individual’s struggle is everyone’s struggle, they perform better. This behavior flourishes in teams that have transparency and alignment, high role clarity, and high trust.
6. Clear set of rules and tools
Marketing needs to operate at higher and higher velocity. Many marketing channels and vehicles are optimized for speed - like social media and digital marketing. Some...just aren’t, like trade shows. However, as competition between companies ramps up and margins for differentiation become tighter, technology can become a competitive advantage.
Marketing organizations need to identify, implement and fully utilize their technology stacks to support their efforts. Since companies have their own policies, rules and idiosyncrasies, it’s critical that the technology stack supports the operating norms of the company, including planning, reporting, accounting, and security best practices.
7. High focus on internal stakeholders and partners
If all of the cultural tenets above are going great in your team, you may still be missing one of the most important cultural markers of a successful marketing organization: engagement with the key stakeholders outside the marketing organization, At a minimum, this will include: sales, finance, IT, and product.
Depending on your role, your partner in the other functions will vary. For example, The CMO must be tightly engaged with the CEO, CSO, and CFO. A marketing manager, or individual contributor may need to be engaged with supporting an individual salesperson, an FP&A (financial planning and accounting) counterpart in finance, or an IT manager who is responsible for integrating new technology into the corporate infrastructure.
Successful marketing teams embrace relationships outside of marketing and ensure they stay healthy, communicative, and mutually accountable. If the marketing organization isolates itself culturally, then it is far less likely to be successful. Even if it is successful, it is less likely to have its results understood and acknowledged.
Centralized, Internal Agency, Matrixed, or Integrated
It is critically important to have clear alignment between the marketing organizational structure and the corresponding corporate structure. Small and medium businesses frequently have a single, centralized marketing organization. The CMO reports into the CEO and sits on the executive team, and manages a unified marketing organization that serves the company functionally.
As companies grow, they may establish strategic business units that operate as mini-companies within the broader organization. Their leaders normally have a high degree of P&L responsibility and strategic autonomy. It is critically important to gain alignment on how marketing will serve such a structure. It might operate as an internal agency, utilized by all the business units, with the business units operating as customers who each contribute a portion of the marketing budget
In a matrixed model, some marketing functions might be absorbed into the business units, with other services served by the CMO organization. For example, product marketing, field marketing, and even demand generation might move into the SBU, with other functions (e.g. PR, branding, events) remaining at the corporate level
Finally, marketing might be more completely separated and integrated into the business units. If this happens, it might require the establishment of a separate corporate marketing team that manages the corporate brand, corporate events, etc, with a very high degree of autonomy granted to the SBU’s for their own day-to-day marketing needs.
Whatever structure you operate within, the entire marketing organization should be clear on their responsibilities to each other and to the business. They should be prepared for frequent change, too: as the company structure evolves, the marketing team structure is likely to evolve along with it.
Service, Solution, Technology, Product, or Platform
Often overlooked, it is imperative to have organizational clarity about what it is you are marketing. You should consider at least the 5-way split below. As you can see, the characteristics of different offer types should influence the structure of your marketing plan and strategy, and therefore for your team:
Figure 1: Marketing considerations for different types of offering
B2B or B2C
This distinction is primarily occupied with the different marketing mix compositions of B2C and B2B companies. Based on those mixes, it’s likely that marketing leaders will emphasize hiring in-house vs outsourced talent pools differently. This is a complex topic that could warrant its own book, so what follows is a high-level overview. You should assess the skill-sets you most want to maintain with FTEs and what is outsourced to consultants and contractors.
Since B2C marketing is typically focused on broad communication vehicles that can appeal to buyers’ emotions, like advertising and awareness campaigns on digital, TV, and radio. B2C normally marketers operate with a lower CAC (customer acquisition cost), on average. For high-priced items like cars, or university courses, the CAC may still run high, but the channels of mass marketing, or mass customization - vs highly personalized marketing - is the norm. Because B2C marketing tends to be heavily digital, it is common to find smaller teams with a higher spend per team-member; higher use of the brand and advertising agencies; metrics tend to be focused on impressions, clicks, brand perceptions, digital analytics, and data visualization
B2B typically has longer sales cycles than B2C: more complex, and less emotion-driven, buying processes with more rounds of approval, security, procurement, finance, competitive bids, etc. It is characterized by team buying rather than individual buying. B2B marketing, therefore, tends to pick its prospects very carefully and invest more in targeting them based on their profile, persona, and buyer characteristics. Once identified, B2B marketing will provide customized - even personalized - content to capture and retain the attention of prospects through the buying cycle.
B2B marketing tends to have larger in-house teams; bigger investment in product marketing, events teams, in-house PR teams, field marketing, sales enablement case-studies, thought leadership, and likely in marketing operations.
Some product-led-growth (PLG) SaaS companies, like Slack, have more heavily adopted B2C marketing strategies even though they are clearly selling a B2B product. It is worth understanding whether your company falls into this category, ensuring that there is alignment around the key activities you will need to carry out to best serve your go-to-market motion, and structuring accordingly.
International or domestic
When a business becomes international, marketing complexity significantly grows. Strategically, you need to plan your marketing plan according to your market presence, brand awareness, perception, and competitive strength across multiple regions with disparate requirements. You must take into account cultural, economic, and regulatory differences across multiple countries. For example, there is a substantial difference in the respective security and privacy regulations around the globe. This will materially impact how and to whom you may advertise. You will need to understand how your budget should be managed, bearing in mind that you will be generating expenses in more than one currency, and that these will ultimately all need to be managed within a budget of a single currency. As the company grows, the marketing organization needs to grow internationally with it, and it needs to be structured to address international needs in the context of all the other DNA attributes described above.
The Marketing DNA review described in this chapter highlights a number of sometimes complex questions to consider as you structure your team and culture over time. It’s not something so simple that it can be captured in a scorecard, but it does need to be considered thoughtfully and revisited regularly to ensure that you are continuously evolving your organization to stay in lockstep with the needs of the business. As your company evolves, you will need to evolve the structure, organization, and management of your marketing team. This is one of the reasons why the culture of the company, and of your marketing team is so worthy of your continuous focus and attention. Flexible teams with great communication and high degrees of trust will be better suited to the inevitable change that successful companies require of them. Learn more about why how Plannuh works as a software for CMOs.
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Dan Faulkner is the CTO of Plannuh, a marketing performance management software delivering Operational Marketing excellence. Dan has degrees in speech and language processing and marketing. He got his marketing degree after running research for text-to-speech synthesis research at SpeechWorks (now Nuance) and must have been looking for something easy to do. You can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.