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Departmental Marketing Myopia
by Andy
September 4, 2009

When I look at marketing resumes from those with strong packaged goods backgrounds, I see titles like ‘Brand Manager – Diet Coke’ or ‘Associate Brand Manager – Cheerios.’  These are fine titles and they each enjoyed some very strong P&L, multi-departmental, cross-cultural experiences, and more.  It’s the traditional way.  Continue to build your brand, insert it into as many new opportunities as you can afford, maintain/grow volume with the core, turn a profit.

That structure made fantastic sense when the market was more homogeneous and fewer media outlets were the norm (not that long ago).  But today, homogeny is truly gone.  Media outlets are everywhere. The U.S. market is geographically, politically, demographically, culturally dispersed like never before.  And growth is expected to come from international successes, not domestic.

Yet, most marketing departments are still domestically-structured and built around getting all these differing people to only buy their brand.  In the consumer goods marketing structure, I could argue this inward, ‘look-at-my-brand’ approach makes sense especially if the company supports multiple brands (i.e., General Mills or P&G).  For those firms with fewer brands OR those firms that are pure B2B plays, this inward-focused marketing department structure limits growth.

In the B2B space, the focus must be outward.  If your company already enjoys strong awareness levels, your targets (current clients and prospects) already know who you are, what you do, how to get a hold of you, and how much you cost.  Plus, B2B brands tend to be measured more on functional attributes rather than emotional.  This means additional awareness efforts (i.e., ads) will not drive incremental sales.  You need to matter to these very specific audiences that have specific, expert needs – not just be more known.

This is why marketing departments need to be organized around the target and the opportunity, not the brand or product.  The more you can understand their wants and needs at a higher level, and insert your expertise into the solution set, the more you can help solve their high-level problems.  And if your product is not solving their problem or fulfilling their need, this revised structure is more flexible to launch products that will.

In the B2B space, market-based marketing departments are more flexible and knowledgeable of what’s needed and how to deploy against it.  Traditional departments are not.  It’s a new world for you and for them.  Simply re-packaging the old dog just won’t do the trick.

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