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Center of Excellence: The Tool Great Marketing Teams Wield Skillfully

The Case for a Marketing Center of Excellence

The case for a Marketing Center of Excellence (COE) starts with a special kind of marketer, a catalyst. That catalyst must be driven to achieve (and then communicate) uncommonly impressive marketing results. As the visionary behind an organization’s marketing COE, this catalyst marketer must diligently create comprehensive, detailed governance for marketing to be followed by every person in every department. Let me say that again in a slightly different way, an effective marketing COE not only aligns every role in the marketing team but facilitates cross-functional understanding of the role messaging, brand and marketing serve in the overarching organization’s objectives.

Over the next quarter, we’ll do the same thing we did with the topic of customer marketing. We went wide and deep on that topic, covering all the elements of developing your Customer Marketing Strategy to specifically how to build a Customer Marketing Scoring Process or Customer Lifecycle. Keep in mind these four main ways organizations benefit from deploying a marketing COE.

And first, if you’re unfamiliar with a marketing COE, here’s a Gartner resource that explains the concept well: “What Makes a Marketing Center of Excellence?

1. Continued Education

The pace of change in marketing, specifically in MarTech, is a well-known challenge. The COE creates consistency in continued education for marketing teams and the overall organization by tracking and updating best practices. These best practices may be as company-specific as the segmentation of certain industry-specific events through very broad channel ROI, as reported by major analyst firms.

2. Company Culture Alignment

I’ve yet to see a company advocate a culture of status quo. Instead, most companies (at least those worth working for) drive toward innovation and incremental improvements. That is squarely the purpose of a COE. Perform actions with a measurable consistency and adjust for what works and does not. Leveraging a marketing COE will help keep alignment to its importance from top leadership through the most tactical person on any team.

3. Role Definition

Depending on the size of your organization, the interactions of individual team members with your COE will likely shift. But even in the definition of how individual contributors use and influence the COE, it holds value. For example, within large marketing organizations, a marketing COE keeps large, often geographically separated teams on track, on brand, coordinated and making progress. Without them, an enterprise marketing department can get hung up by legal approvals and other red tape that can’t be circumvented or expedited. Within smaller organizations, COEs can provide the answer for how to make the most of your team and resources. Leveraging the templates and a framework inherent in the COE, you won’t see as many mistakes or corners being cut. COEs help your employees perform more efficiently and optimize their outcomes.

4. Making Money by Saving Time

Let’s be frank, reasons 1-3 would be hard to go into a boardroom and have a nice, ROI-driven business case to tell. This reason is markedly different, because it’s all about the dollars and cents. A main function of the marketing COE is simply efficiency.

The 80/20 Rule for Your Center of Excellence

Don’t confuse COEs with templates. Yes, frameworks and templates are a part of them, but they’re not the main purpose. Each COE in your organization should include the necessary elements for that given practice.

For example, a marketing campaign COE would ensure you can launch your campaigns at a targeted, yet practical, level. If you set your goal to register a certain segment for a dinner you’re hosting, the COE provides the tools, such as the landing page which converts best for these small, targeted dinners. It’s 80 percent done, leaving the field marketer 20 percent to customize it. Or, perhaps the messaging that converts best for that group involves a personal phone call. The COE would then provide a script and the technology to record the dial and result. It gives your team a trusted roadmap for what will be most effective, based on experience.

But the framework and processes and templates are just that, the foundation. This helps those in the field to avoid making a lot of unnecessary experiments and mistakes, while still giving them room to make each effort applicable to that specific audience and goal. The goal here is to remove ‘random acts of marketing’.

Conclusion

The bottom line? Creating a Center of Excellence is more than just ticking a box. Unlike implementing a new technology, or redesigning your website, creating a Center of Excellence for marketing is a game-changing action. It’s the kind of initiative that takes a truly unique individual to head and likely a lot of convincing across the organization. Once it’s created it will also require diligence in its updating and enforcement. Where we’ve seen COEs the most impactful just happen to be where we see the best marketers in the world. If you’re looking to build the business case for a COE in your org, keep following along, as we dig into some of the most impactful COEs we’ve seen and share how they were created.

 

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