4 Requirements for Building a Best-in-Class Marketing Function

by Debra Andrews | December 24, 2020

As companies begin a high-growth period, many can achieve some success in acquiring new customers with one-to-one cold sales calls. But eventually, these efforts start to take up all of your sales team’s time. Leads can stall when they should move down the sales funnel but don’t receive the nurturing they need to maintain interest.

This is a sign that it’s time to build a marketing function that generates and maintains qualified leads for your sales team. So where do you start? We believe any world-class marketing department needs these four things—in this order.

#1: Strategy

The very first step in building a marketing function that works for your goals is to flesh out exactly what those goals are and to develop your marketing strategy. This starts with a strategic marketing planning process that will be the roadmap that leads from where you are today to where you want to go.

If you’re at base camp and trying to climb to the peak, the strategic marketing plan will act as the guide to get you there in the most efficient and effective way. In that regard, you conserve resources because you’re not veering off course with any missteps. 

Resource: How to Build A Strategic Marketing Plan

One great place to start is with a SWOT analysis to determine your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It helps to have an outside observer, such as an objective marketing firm, help you to complete this analysis. 

From there, you can figure out what aspects are most important to your business to achieve growth goals. These may include:

  • Branding
  • Demand generation
  • Product marketing

#2: Talent

It’s crucial to build out your strategy before building a marketing department. Many companies start building their marketing function by hiring a marketing manager. But this person may not have the specific skillsets that are most needed to execute your plan. 

We see this happen with too many companies who bring in a mid-level generalist marketing manager without a strategic background who cannot put the right pieces together to achieve a result. Goals aren’t achieved, and the marketing manager often leaves because of the unachievable expectations.

More than likely, you will need leaders who can help you put all the pieces together. Build a team who can help you meet your goals and follow your strategic marketing plan—rather than building goals around what your team can do. We recommend keeping in-house teams lean because the skills needed will evolve as the marketing program evolves. A highly cost-effective method is outsourcing part or all of the marketing function.

#3: Technologies

Just like a car, marketing technologies need fuel (content, social posts, etc.) and a driver (marketing talent) to actually be useful. Many times, companies invest in expensive automation tools and they aren’t set up for success. Those subscription fees erode the bottom line when their promise is to do the opposite: to bring scale.  

There is a range of products you may need to automate marketing operations, analyze metrics, and get an in-depth look at the customer journey. These may include:

  • Email marketing/marketing automation software
  • A social media management tool
  • An intuitive CMS (content management system)
  • Advanced web analytics technology, customized to your organization

But don’t put the cart before the horse! It’s crucial to have a plan and a driver in place before making the investment.

See Also: Why Not to Start Your B2B Marketing Journey with Automation

#4: Best practice processes

All marketing functions should be run like an efficient agency—even those that are in-house. There should be a proven and documented process and methodology for all things marketing, with budgeted time allocations. Marketers should attribute their time to projects and tasks so that you can effectively schedule resources and see where there might be inefficiencies and/or training needs.

Don’t view your marketing department as “overhead.” It’s important to see marketing as a revenue center, not a cost center. You will see a return on your investment—as long as you have a team of strategists who are aligned with your goals and given the right tools for the job.

Do you have the time and resources to build out your marketing function—and provide your team with the right tools for success? If not, it may be time to outsource to a fractional CMO structure, with a successful marketing function behind it.