In sports skills, maturity matters because it puts your game at the top echelon of competition. In human development, maturity matters because it means wisdom, a well-rounded personality, capability for success under a variety of circumstances, and greater satisfaction in relationships. In marketing, maturity matters for the same reasons! As such, it mobilizes the mojo (i.e. power) of everyone in the marketing department, and their collective impact.
Most marketing maturity models are silos, assessing a nook or cranny of marketing. Digital marketing maturity . . . SEO maturity . . . social media maturity . . . and the like. If a nook of your marketing organization is considered best-in-class, is it possible that the crannies of your organization may be holding it back from being truly stellar?
A litmus test is to apply siloed maturity to sports skills: is a tennis player mature because of consistently awesome serves, even though their volleying may leave a lot to be desired? Apply siloed maturity to human development: is someone mature when they reach the age that they need to shave? Or when they are a prodigy in their pre-teen years, with a magnificent voice or mastery of a musical instrument? In all these cases, the answer is: no. So siloed marketing maturity models are helpful, but not a good measure of what it takes to be fully successful in life.
Other marketing maturity models cover the whole enchilada, so to speak, yet the approach taken is stymied because of moving targets in emerging marketing practices, such as the advent of big data or digital marketing, which weren’t on the horizon of yesteryear.
A litmus test here is to ask, is your grandfather immature because he doesn’t know how to use something relatively new-fangled, such as text messaging? Again, the answer is: no.
Who Decides Maturity
In all the examples above, the best judge of maturity is not a self-diagnosis, but rather, their constituents and stakeholders. In Marketing, the ultimate judges of maturity are customers, channel partners, alliance partners, suppliers, and other stakeholders internally – with emphasis on customers’ viewpoint.
We tend to think of a mature person as one who is accountable, who is in-sync socially and emotionally and physically (aligned), and who adapts appropriately to any given environment (agile). A mature athlete or student or pet or marketing organization would have these same criteria: accountability, alignment, and agility.
These 3 A’s represent universal aspirations of marketing departments. My team became aware of the 3 A’s when we conducted exploratory research about chronic challenges of organizational efficiency and effectiveness with marketing leaders from companies such as American Express, Aon, Apple, Ariba, Clorox, Covidien, Eli Lilly, Global Foundries, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, NVIDIA, and SAP.
All of their feedback easily fit into the 3 A’s categories. We came to realize that they are sequential: accountability is a foundation for alignment, which, in turn, empowers organizational agility. This fact is insightful about what it takes to nurture maturity of a marketing department.
Accountability = maximize resources
Alignment = sync with stakeholders
Agility = mobilize the enterprise
Another insight from this research is that the 3 A’s as the domain of only a few within a marketing organization, such as the marketing ops function, is folly. Every functional area throughout marketing needs to master accountability, as well as alignment and agility. No one is exempt. You’re only as strong as your weakest link.
Building-Blocks of Marketing Maturity
This model is the recipe for establishing capabilities in the 3 A’s. It starts with marketing’s ecosystem, ensuring that stakeholders (customers, primarily) are the centering element across everything marketing does. The ecosystem informs strategy, which is executed through guidance and processes. Metrics monitor the health and provide ongoing inputs to all of the above. Technology has the potential to make all of the above more efficient, and infrastructure is the integration of all of the above.
Ecosystem = Successful collaboration with key stakeholders
Strategy = Holistic vision, fact-based decision-making
Guidance = Competency development, marketing governance
Process = Lean enterprise, six sigma, supply chain
Metrics = Profitability, predictive analytics, enterprise metrics alignment
Technology = Enterprise marketing management, portfolio management
Infrastructure = Back-end integration of processes, metrics, technology
These are the building-blocks for marketing maturity. Each block contains several requirements at the basic level, as well as the intermediate and advanced levels.
In sports, you would learn all the basics before moving on to intermediate and advanced skill-building. For example, in golf you learn putting, pitching, driving . . . in tennis you learn forehand, backhand, serving . . . in baseball you learn hitting, catching, throwing . . . in basketball you learn dribbling, passing, shooting. In each case it’s unheard and unwise to focus only on putting or forehand or hitting or dribbling for a lengthy time before taking on the other aspects.
So it is with these building-blocks. The wisest approach is to work simultaneously, by and large, on mastering the basics across all model components. And you can graduate from there to simultaneous capability-building at the intermediate level, and then at the advanced level.
Marketing maturity matters because it puts your game at the top echelon of the competition. And it breeds more satisfying careers and relationships inside and outside your work environment. That spells happiness and success emotionally, productively, and financially. Marketing maturity mobilizes your mojo.