Tackling marketing transformation

Part two of our marketing transformation series



Transformation environments are chaotic – particularly those in the early stages. You can spot them a mile away.


· Leadership are demanding change – but are frustrated that progress isn’t being made

· Buzz words are spoken frequently - we need to be digitally enabled, customer centric, agile but no one really knows what that means in the context of their organisation

· Team members are getting busy on things they think are important (whilst also protecting those that aren’t) and lack alignment starts to emerge

And that is just the tip of the iceberg.


Whether it is marketing transformation, digital transformation or otherwise – transformation is messy and early on leaders often underestimate the effort ahead to transform and the time it will take to do so.


In part one of our marketing transformation series we explored the five core barriers of impacting marketing transformation. In part two of the series we take a closer look at how leaders can effectively bring a level of clarity to the chaos and bring about meaningful change.


A more holistic way to plan your transformation

When it comes to marketing transformation too often leaders plan new strategic initiatives and streams of work to meet organisational objectives but they fail to address “the how”. What occurs next is teams attempt to deliver programs and initiatives and start to face a series of roadblocks because they are not equipped to drive the change. Those roadblocks can be in the form of processes which aren’t conducive to test and learn or to collaborate cross-functionally. It could be skill gaps that inhibit people from being able to know the right questions to ask based on past experience or it could be legacy tech or a host of others.


This leads to a slow-down in progress and whilst it creates valuable learning it can also be a costly.

In an environment where marketing teams are being challenged to solve new problems – we can’t expect our teams to do so in the same way we have historically operated.


A good marketing transformation plan – will therefore not only seek to outline the new strategic direction and why it matters – but it identifies what underpins or enables that direction across key areas of enablement. Whilst there are a host of variations in market –we like to consider 4 core areas of enablement which need to be considered as part of any good marketing transformation plan. These are


1) People and culture

This encompasses talent, skills, mindsets and behaviours


2) Process

This encompasses ways of working and process evolution.


3) Technology

This encompasses the technology that enhances our ability to engage customers but also enables our team to be more effective


4) Data

This encompasses core data assets, data access, privacy compliance, analytics and reporting.


In a marketing world, these enablers should consider and extend to partners as most marketing functions are utilising vast extended teams to drive outcomes on an ongoing basis. In some instances it may be that incumbent partners need to evolve, whilst in others it may be deemed they are no longer be fit for purpose. Either way giving consideration to partners as part of enablement helps to determine where they fit and what needs to evolve as part of your transformation journey.


Five key steps to building the plan

Success in marketing transformation is in part influenced by strategic clarity and a plan to help guide and govern the roll out. In environments of transformation much is unknown – therefore plans need to provide enough clarity for teams to grasp the direction and where they fit in – but fluid enough to flex and adapt based on learning. Whilst every planning process will differ and steps and stages are nuanced we have outlined the broad stages of building a robust transformation plan.


Step 1: Clarity around the strategic direction; The starting point for any good marketing transformation plan should always be to cast a clear vision and north star and outline strategic goals and priorities. The horizon for the plan may differ - it might be 3 – 5 years depending on the level of strategic clarity within the broader organisation, which the transformation plan should align to. Building that clarity should be done through co-creation to provide leaders and team members with an opportunity to shape the direction.


Step 2: Current state of enablement: Once there is clarity in direction, consideration needs to turn to what is going to enable you to get there. This requires an assessment of your today state across the 4 key areas of enablement (people, process, technology and data). This is usually best done through some sort of structured audit or review (surveys / interviews) which should involve team members at different levels to bring diversity of thought to the table and to get a true sense of the current state.

You may also consider the types of capabilities you may need to build. For example if you are looking to embed a customer centric approach – building a capability around CX might be vital to design new products and experiences and bring the customers voice to the table to guide decision making.


Step 3: Building strong foundations: Guided by the vision, goals and strategic priorities you then need to set about defining what needs to change and evolve across the 4 key areas of enablement in order for the team to effectively transform. Planning across a 3 – 5 year horizon in this space however probably isn’t an effective use of time. Usually we find many marketing departments have many foundational elements they need to address to re-orient the function to deliver on the new direction and therefore it is difficult to build a 3 year plan. We typically suggest to adopt a planning horizon of 12 – 18 months maximum which enables teams to address core foundational capability issues. Once these key foundations have been addressed, it becomes much easier to assess what needs to be done next to build maturity in key areas of enablement.


Step 4: Once you have clarity around enablement and broader strategic direction – it all comes down to sequencing the change. Once you bring together the “what”- being the strategic priorities and the “how”- it starts to become clearer that certain initiatives cannot be tackled until foundational elements are in place. This clarity of the what and the how side by side allows for a more integrated plan that ensures teams are equipped to tackle key strategic priorities.


Step 5: Once sequencing is clear, it is much easier to determine and assign clear accountability. Resource allocation is very important and often missed in the process – not only do leaders need to turn their attention to transformation but so too do team members and therefore having visibility to both BAU and transformation streams of work is advantageous in order to effectively ensure team members have capacity to focus on transformation efforts (otherwise it gets pushed to the side).


Step 6: Cascading the plan & monitoring progress

Even when teams are involved in co-creation – cascading the final direction is important. Marketing transformation is not the job of a leader or a leadership team – everyone must play a role. It is therefore important to cascade the direction and plan and consistently refer to it along the journey frequently.

The marketing team serve as key advocates for the plan within the department and across the organisation. But also as key enablers of change – they cannot execute what they don’t understand and so over communication is required.

Regular reviews of progress are also important to hold each other to account, provide feedback loop and to assess the need to pivot where necessary.



Finding it difficult to kick start your marketing transformation efforts? We are here to help. Find our more about our marketing transformation advisory services here.

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