Marketing Strategy Execution Tiffany Goodman posted three whopper questions in the comment section of my June 1, 2008 blog posting on Adrian Ott’s article, “Beyond the 4Ps: the 5Ts of Marketing Operations.&qout;  After answering her thoughtful questions as comments, I realized I should bring these to the top of the blog to spark some dialogue.

The answers to any of these questions could fill a book, so if I missed anything or you have a differentpoint-of-view, please pipe in!

How do corporate objectives affect marketing operations?

All marketing operations should start with the corporation’s top 3–5 strategic objectives — often called the enterprise strategic agenda. The perceived success of marketing will be tied to how well we help the company to achieve these objectives in a demonstrable way. Since marketing will be evaluated based on our contribution toward achieving these objectives, how we define success (metrics) should be linked to these objectives.

Many marketing operations groups struggle because the corporate objectives are notwell-defined. The challenge for marketing operations professionals is to hold the company to a clearly-definedenterprise strategic agenda. If one does not exist, we have the opportunity to drive a process to create this strategic agenda.

How do business marketing strategies and product marketing strategies differ?

Business marketing strategies (which are often largely owned by a corporate marketing and/or marketing strategy function) tend to address decision-makersthat are more concerned with business issues than product issues. Investors are a good example of this audience, as are
executivedecision-makers that must sign off on enterprise product purchases.

Product marketing strategies address an audience that is more technical in nature (in the case of technology products, for example) or at least is more concerned about how a given product solves their functional requirements or application.

The messaging emphasis is very different for these two audiences. The business audience cares about issues like return on investment, total cost of ownership, selecting a vendor that reduces their risk and exposure, etc. The product audience focuses more on product issues like functionality, product reliability, how one product fares versus another competitively in terms of price, performance, specifications, etc.

Marketing tactics aimed at realizing these strategies often differ (though many tactics can effectively address both audiences). For example, investor roadshows, annual reports, corporate brochures, services marketing and business-orientedwhite papers and case studies are attractive ways to reach the business audience. On the other hand, demos, product evaluations, application and technical briefs, and product announcements, for example, are more geared toward the product-orienteddecision-maker.

How does marketing differ for a new, single-product venture and a large, multiproduct corporation?

In a nutshell, the difference between the two company types is the role marketing plays, the motivation (and propensity) to invest in marketing and the level of complexity in the marketing organization.

Marketing for a younger company with a single product tends to focus on winning initial customers, then building a funnel of sales opportunities. Ideally, the company finds a “beach-head,” a homogeneous market it can serve with the existing solution “out of the box.”

Marketing investment in these companies is fairly straight forward. Without a certain level of marketing, Sales is forced to sell without any “air cover.” Unless the sales team can easily access its customers directly, the success of the company is directly tied to how well Marketing can decrease the cost of the selling process.

Thus much emphasis in these young,single-productcompanies is naturally placed on developing a well-differentiatedposition and messaging platform; obtaining enough brand awareness to compete (and be on the “short list”) and enabling Sales with tools and opportunities. The marketing charter is fairly straight forward and the level of complexity is thus relatively manageable.

Larger,multi-productcompanies tend to have more complex marketing agenda. The resources devoted to marketing (people, budget, infrastructure, etc.) are much greater. The number of markets served (vertical, geographic) increases. These companies are more likely to sell through multiple channels (direct, reseller, online), requiring them to develop positioning, messaging, collateral and go-to-marketstrategies for each audience and product family. They tend to have many more marketing programs and a much more sophisticated lead generation and nurturing process in place (or development) in support of the channel and the direct sales force. As they enter new markets, become a public company, undertake new compliance initiatives, go through a merge or acquisition process, strive to become more a part of their local community and/or more “green,” this complexity and the associated investment in marketing becomes very hard to manage. Marketing operations strategies such as advanced analytics, process improvement, best practices, knowledge management, policies and procedures,cross-functionalalignment, socialization, winning stakeholderbuy-in, metrics and dashboards, and change management grow in importance.

by Gary M. Katz, Founder and Chairman at Marketing Operations Partners