Today’s CMO: Conductor, Marketing Orchestration

November 27, 2018 | Lorraine Stewart

Standing in front of an orchestra, a band, or a chorus and beating time does not make one a conductor. But to bring forth thrilling music from a group of singers or players, to inspire them to excel, to train them to become musicians themselves, personally to feel the power of music so deeply that the audience is lifted to new heights… yes, that can be called conducting.

— Elizabeth Green, Composer & Conductor

To the casual observer unfamiliar with the art and science of reading music, the role of an orchestral conductor may seem rather simple. How hard can it be to wave the baton to keep time so musicians can play together? But as revealed by Conductor Elizabeth Green, her responsibilities extend far beyond the ability to read music. She must understand the vision of the work the group of artists is trying to bring to life on a nuanced and panoptic level.

A conductor must also respect the strength of talent among expert musicians, calling upon each separately and in unison to activate the right mix of players at the just right moment to produce what they have set out to create together. To do so well, she has cultivated special relationships with the musicians she directs.

Today’s top marketing leaders face a similar challenge. Leaders are positioned at the helm of increasingly complex teams with fluid talent models, a mix of internal-to-company employees, external ad agency suppliers, subcontractors, consultants and freelancers. All of whom need to be knitted together in a way that best leverages the diversity of skills and thinking. The music to be made?  Creating high-quality brand content delivered in multiple channels, the demand for which grows steadily in volume and complexity. Today’s marketers continue to drum away to have their brand messaging hits its cultural stride.

“One more time, with feeling!”

In-house advertising agencies full of creative talent are on the rise as companies look for more effective and cost-efficient advertising models, according to a new study from Forrester. Sixty-five percent of companies have some type of internal creative services capability – but often encounter growing pains as they plan for the future, uncertain of the specific skills sets they need to recruit. 

Externally, ad agency resources and marketing firms of all disciplines are available to leaders who benefit from the expertise and external point of view provided by their agencies; resources “at the ready” to step in and demonstrate their full potential.

The marketing leader who understands how to direct internal and external teams to work together sets the ensemble on the path to success. According to a study from the Association of National Advertisers, “brands experience greater revenue growth when companies use a networked marketing structure with cross-functional teams.”

Yet, orchestrating team resources and managing talented people requires a deft hand. What can CMOs do to ensure their agency partners and internal teams work harmoniously? Perhaps musical conductors model how to make marketing music.

Songbook Strategy

Selecting what repertoire to play often falls on the shoulders of the conductor. S/He takes into consideration the historical context of the piece and the intent of composer. How will the piece be interpreted to fit the context of the concert experience? How do we want the listener to feel?

Similarly, deciding on a sound strategy – and ensuring organization buy in – is an important framework before marketing and creative teams can get to work.

Today’s top brands are putting out a steady stream of desirable, relevant content to connect with their audiences. Small business owners and major brands alike reported their top strategy for dealing with increased competition around the current holiday season is to create more social content and post more often. It’s important to organize a team that can keep pace.

But before deciding upon whom to call on for what, companies should have a defined social marketing strategy as a foundation in place, otherwise it’s easy for creative teams to crank out content that’s seems close – but ultimately hits a wrong note. SMART goal setting is good start for beginners; customer journey mapping with goals and metrics for each element of advertising content elevates the game.

With your audience in mind, your songbook should specify specific goals for each account on each social network channel. Beyond likes and posts, the successful leaders focus serious team attention on measured referrals to websites or channel partners, lead generation and crescendo-like conversions.

Ensemble Sections

Protocol for full orchestras is to organize its 70-80 musicians into four major sections grouped by the type of vibration their instruments make. Strings are positioned across the front while woodwinds then brass sit near the middle. Percussion anchors the back, often standing. Sometimes a key soloist remains on call, positioned in the wings.

Investing time to design the ideal hybrid integration model for your team is critical. Otherwise precious time and resources will be wasted as employees find themselves frustrated at the lack of role clarity, rework or duplicative efforts. Our consulting clients often use their marketing workflow as the organizing framework to define the cadence of each team section that contributes at each step.

Not sure where to start? Shine a spotlight on the strengths of the resources available to you. A simple back-of-the-holiday-napkin SWOT analysis can help identify who is best for each part (and worth their cost) vs gaps in capabilities that may exist. This analysis goes beyond systems, processes and operations. Looking for the magic in people can be just as critical as other evaluating other strategic assets.  Have some unknowns or weaknesses in performance? Sourcing outside professional expertise to help fill gaps is the ticket to accelerate needed change.

First Chair Sectional Leaders

The “first chair” or most talented and seasoned musician sits at the front of the section – ready to lead or play solo when called upon. It’s both an honor bestowed as well as a responsibility to guide and uplift fellow artists.

Chiefs need to appoint their own section leaders to be responsibility for the performance of their groups. Most companies still organize the functions of marketing by channel or brand/business unit but others are moving towards a more customer-centric view of marketing performance.  Sometimes section leaders align with company hierarchical org models, other times the sectional responsibility is given to an external agency partner.

Encourage Cross-Sectional Communication

Playing a difficult piece of music with a group of talented musicians is a real-time team activity more than a listener may realize. Yes, the best musicians spend hours practicing their individual parts on their own time, but conductors spend hours coaching the group on how to play with each other – listening for key musical cues or adjusting to the group dynamics according to the composer’s written intent.

Behind the scenes practical suggestions to bring your players together include:

  • Make virtual introductions between external and internal team members.
  • Set expectations for weekly, speedy check-in meetings to discuss high-level priorities
  • Invite multiple parities to use the same project tracking tools/software
  • Arrange a time for “first chair” influencers to come together in person
  • Position and embrace change as a way to service others in our fluid, agile world
  • Communicate with clarity what successful performance looks like

In today’s complex and evolving marketing landscape – keeping time is not enough. There are more resources available to marketing leaders than ever before, but organizing and working with those resources to create a harmonious performance that delights the customer requires a great deal of time and thoughtful attention.

The baton is ready and waiting for you!

Get Ready! 2019 Marketing Organization Design

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ROJEK assists numerous clients with their 2019 marketing organization design, in-house agency structure, marketing workflow and team integration models. We design holistic marketing teaming model (with internal functions, external agencies, vendors, stakeholders) to determine the best strategy for in sourcing vs. outsourcing marketing and advertising processes for maximum effectiveness.