Marketing complexity continues to increase due to data proliferation, channel fragmentation, technology advancements and the increasing empowerment of the consumer.

In addition, marketing is being asked to address some key organizational challenges as the role of marketing becomes more pervasive across an organization.

But what can you look at in order to address these challenges and bring your organization into the future of business?

There are a few things you start with from the marketing department. Though these are not fixes that happen overnight, they are ones that can help make the internal changes happen through a long-term approach.

Long-term strategy

Organizations work to specific revenue and EBIT targets in order to deliver to the expectations of shareholders. Sometimes this can result in a short-term focus.

Marketing needs to be the “Jiminy Cricket” of an organization, its conscience and to keep the company focused and aware of its progress to its long-term goals. To do this marketing needs to identify the key organizational success factors and track and report against these.

Understanding the customer

As customer expectation increases it puts increased demands on an organization to ensure that every interaction is relevant for the customer and delivers a high quality experience.

To achieve this, marketing must build a clear understanding of the customer, their needs, wants, preferences and expectations for application across the entire organization. 

Aligning sales, service and marketing

A customer assesses a company and its offerings based the sum of all interactions with that company and their products. This means that all functions have to be completely aligned.

This is especially true in a B2B company where B2B social buyers have blurred the lines between the three functions and everyone is now a marketer. Marketing must support this transition and technology can play a big part here.

Providing attribution

It is essential that marketing takes a TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) approach to marketing contribution and has responsibility for tracking and reporting on all stages of the buyer’s journey as well as overall customer success measures.

It is no longer enough to report on the performance of specific marketing activities in isolation of commercial performance.

So what are the measures a marketing function should consider to take to be successful in 2013?

1) Agility

Take an agile approach to marketing that supports and encourages flexibility, testing, small initiatives, empowered culture, transparency and collaboration.

Achieve this by focusing on desired outcomes and not activities and then create small teams that are empowered to achieve their goals in a way that works best for the specific deliverable at that specific moment.

  • Responding to change over following a plan

  • Testing and data over opinions and conventions

  • Numerous small experiments over a few large bets

  • Engagement and transparency over official posturing

  • Collaboration over silos and hierarchy

2) Establish a marketing sciences team

Start with data and build insight and understanding. This will provide the basis for cross-organizational alignment. It is only with this in hand that an organization can focus and thereby optimize the impact it can have on commercial performance.

Then prove out that performance with appropriate metrics and executive dashboard reporting to demonstrate value created.

Arthur C Clarke once said:

The Information Age offers much to mankind, and I would like to think that we will rise to the challenges it presents. But it is vital to remember that information — in the sense of raw data — is not knowledge, that knowledge is not wisdom, and that wisdom is not foresight. But information is the first essential step to all of these.

3) Invest in marketing technology and a marketing technologist

This should not be an enablement function but a truly innovative, disruptive team that embraces new technologies and opportunities and empowers marketing to achieve things that were not possible before. This is a role that is steadily becoming an integral part of marketing teams.

4) Create teams that are dedicated to content & strategy

This team should be focused on connecting the desired audience with the best content, matched to channel, that will optimize the customer experience.

Establish a close working relationship between digital and corporate marketing to ensure the desired customer experience is taken into account in development of the corporate creative.

Marketing has a challenging year ahead but as Henry Ford once said:

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. 

It is only through perseverance, application and focus that marketing can help an organization achieve its growth targets and avoid its own fiscal cliff of being treated as a cost center and having budgets questioned or reduced.