Like many creative services companies, the Content Bureau works with tech and financial services companies that have corporate marketing departments wielding lots of centralized control; and we also work with companies that are almost completely decentralized—where the individual business units can produce whatever marketing content they want. Which of these organizational structures leads to the optimal output? Let’s define “optimal output” as the highest-quality marketing content produced most quickly, cost effectively, and with the least amount of drama. Every single one of our clients wants that outcome, and so do we.
After running a B2B marketing agency for the past seventeen years, I feel I’m in a good position to provide insights on which organization structure leads to that optimal output. Strong corporate marketing guidance—when paired with project-level decision-making by the business unit—produces the optimal outcome. Let’s take a look at how this plays out, noting which responsibilities lie with business units and which with corporate marketing.
IMHO, business units should do the following:
Corporate marketing should do the following:
I’ve seen it all over the past seventeen years, including a head of creative services at a global software behemoth who gave me an earful for poaching—providing quick, high-quality, cost-effective service to—his internal clients (an extreme example of a near-monopolistic in-house agency model).
Or the ultra-creative rogue marketer we—her humble vendor—had to rein in because she was careening dangerously far from the established brand, and spending too much company money on concepts that wouldn’t pass corporate brand review (an extreme example of outsourcing with no oversight—which is no better).
Between these two extremes, there is, of course, a happy balance to be achieved.
Strong corporate guidelines + decision-making at the business unit level allow agencies like the Content Bureau to do its best work—delivering the highest-quality marketing content most quickly, cost effectively, and with the least amount of drama.
How is your marketing department structured—and how do you feel about that? I’d love to hear your opinions.
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