Organizing Brand-Demand Marketing Teams for Success
In the fifth and final installment from our Brand-Demand Love series, informed by our conversations with marketing leaders across industries, we’ve outlined the steps to integrating brand and demand marketing capabilities to win in a complex and dynamic landscape.
If we think of marketing organizations as households, they are often not very harmonious, thanks to the common tension between brand and demand generation teams. Our blog series has described why these two marketing disciplines struggle to work together to achieve mutual success. To attain productive and peaceful integration, brand and demand teams must define the best ways to organize people and teams, collaborate productively and deploy the right capabilities and tech.
In our discussions with marketing leaders, the brand-demand split in organizational structures was a common challenge. “One of the big barriers for marketing in our industry is how we’re structured,” a technology CMO told us. “There’s the performance marketing team on one side and then there’s everyone else, including brand people, on the other.”
In many businesses, brand and demand are viewed as unrelated capabilities, run by disparate teams with little to no insight into each other’s activities or results. Other common symptoms of unhealthy brand-demand organizational structures include:
- Separate planning cycles and budgeting exercises
- Distinct KPIs that often do not align with broader business objectives
- Lack of knowledge sharing
- Talent deployed to standalone channels or capabilities, with little cross-functional collaboration or rotational assignments
When marketing teams are organized this way, it’s impossible for brand and demand teams to communicate openly, share data freely, or collaborate productively – much less fall in love again.
A manufacturing vice president of marketing told us that fragmentation is largely down to leadership:
“If your teams are fractured and chaotic, that’s because your leadership is fractured and chaotic.”
This speaks to the importance of leadership in ensuring different functions work together toward shared, big-picture goals.
Rethinking the Marketing Organization Chart
There’s no single ideal structure for a marketing organization, but certainly, brand and demand should not be managed as separate entities. Some top performers organize their teams around customer type, while others use product line, channel or functional discipline. Again, there’s no definitive best practice. A B2B manufacturer that restructured its marketing operation around how customers buy, rather than product lines, became more responsive to business needs.
Marketing at 7-Eleven is organized by discipline, according to CMO Marissa Jarratt, but with a recognition that no one works in isolation. For instance, the company established a customer analytics and insights team to inform business decisions. “Then came the responsibility to socialize those learnings across the organization in a thoughtful way,” she said. “You can have really smart people, but it has to be a team sport.”
No matter the organizational model companies choose, collaboration is key. Collaboration can take many forms:
- Joint strategic planning sessions
- Monthly knowledge-sharing sessions
- Flexible campaign planning exercises and roles, including metrics definition and budget allocation
- Integrated campaign performance readouts
All of these activities can – and should – include external agencies, consultancies and other third-party providers, as well as in-house agency capabilities where relevant. “We need holistic collaboration from our partners to help us work through our evolution,” said Shelley Haus, CMO of Ulta Beauty. Indeed, several marketing leaders who we interviewed considered external partners to be part of the marketing organization and capable of helping bridge the brand-demand divide.
Collaboration can also help solve tactical issues. For instance, brand and demand teams both want efficient and effective content marketing capabilities, which require coordination and asset sharing. “We need atomized content approvals and integrated digital asset management flows so content and images can be reused quickly and easily by many teams,” said a senior marketer at a large financial services firm. “Otherwise, teams can’t streamline timing or use a ‘test-and-learn’ approach based on integrated results from everywhere.”
Boosting Brand-Demand Integration Through Capabilities, Talent and Tech
Several marketing leaders we interviewed talked about the pressing need for new talent. Everyone is looking for data scientists, business analysts and digital strategists; thus, brand and demand teams should look to share in-demand specialist resources.
More than one marketing leader described the need for more communication and training across disciplines to promote better understanding. Job shadowing and rotational assignments can help in these areas. Another challenge involves varying experience and backgrounds: “Brand marketers run the show and they all went to the same business school, while performance marketers all come from DTC brands,” said Ashley LaPorte, ex-CMO at Seventh Generation. Organizational design and cultures that emphasize collaboration and shared goals can help overcome these barriers.
Compensation models and incentives are other effective levers for driving integration between brand and demand. Defining joint performance goals tied to overall business performance may facilitate the shift away from time and expense cost models to more incentive-based pay models, which would encourage brand and demand marketing teams to collaborate more frequently.
Technology has a role to play as well. A strong MarTech stack can successfully integrate data across disparate sources and promote connectivity among different functional areas. Adopting content personalization at scale requires integration across brand and demand teams – and their corresponding tech stacks. Performance marketing functionality can also be embedded directly into tech platforms to give brand teams more access to relevant insights and tools.
We believe the most successful and productive relationships – in business and in life – involve shared goals and commitments. Achieving these goals requires collaboration, communication and an effective division of labor. For brand and demand teams to deliver optimal performance in line with their shared goals, they must organize their “home” in ways that reflect and support these principles. Because brand and demand must live together, we’d recommend they aim to do so with utmost harmony and respect for each other’s unique genius and power. That’s how they can reignite the love in their relationship.
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