Marketing Operations Governance:
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
Knowing The Political Layout Of Your Department

Arturo F Munoz Open QuoteThose who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber. -- Plato

I said earlier that no marketer can pull off doing marketing most effectively without a marketing database. But a more accurate statement for B2B situations is to say that no company is able to achieve the most success in its marketing operation without it.

Marketing OperationsStill a marketing database is just a tool. A database marketing-driven strategy, on the contrary, is a reason and a plan for using that tool.

You need a marketing strategy in hand before you start chasing after the database and improvements on marketing operations.

Let me show you how to start down this road.

Your starting point should be to follow Delphi’s directive and 'know thyself.'

What type of an organization are you? What does it take to succeed in your company's Marketing department? What keeps your marketing operation going?

Two things define far more than do financial sponsorship and business requirements whether your database marketing initiative will stay afloat or hit a reef. They are corporate culture and the structure that governs it, known as a marketing operations governance model.

Both dictate the degree of resistance that your colleagues will level against the changes that a database marketing system requires of an organization. In a word they define the political landscape of your project and your potential for success.

Balance of Powers Database-Style

Corporate politics. Does the phrase curdle your blood or does it infuse it with adrenaline for excitement? Either way you can't afford to avoid it. A database marketing strategy takes into consideration a team's willingness to perform its duties in accordance to the laws that characterize one of the following 4 marketing operations governance models.

Each model is political, enables various degrees of success and contains the seed of its own destruction. So discover the model that applies to your organization below and ready yourself to play the politics of the game.

Is your organization a monarchy? Is it a fiefdom? Is it a federation? Is it an anarchy?

A monarchy consists of one senior individual – a champion – or single team that controls most of the information and rules (laws) that govern its definition and usage. This political model produces sound benefits in small, single-business firms, but leads to fiefdoms in large organizations.

A fiefdom consists of a business unit striving for control of its information environment apart from and, often, in direct conflict with that of another. Information feudalism is a reflection of an organization’s dysfunctional rejection of its need to integrate and can cause severe damage if left untreated, since a house divided cannot stand.
marketing operations governance crown
It originates in the narrow-minded focus by any business unit on its distinct information objectives, without consideration for the larger business issues that depend upon it and other units like it. It is particularly prevalent in marketing organizations, where operations discipline is minimal because of the many "creative juices" that permeate the organization.

Rather than operate across integrated business processes, feudalistic organizations fail to incorporate. Those who should be cross-selling to customers can’t. Those who should be sharing components across different product lines don’t. Costs increase. Revenues drop. Like a black plague, poverty slowly eats away at profits until the business dies.

A federation consists of business units that have agreed upon identifying only a few information elements as definitive and to be controlled centrally, while the rest are left up to local units to manage.

This model treats politics, even the politics of information, as a necessary and legitimate activity, because it means that the central team at corporate derives its authority from that which the local units give up. Therefore, federalism is established only through extensive negotiation between the center and the periphery.

Federalism means stability and innovation; stability at the center where information remains common to all units and innovation at the local level where most of the interaction with the market takes place.

The most necessary requirement for the creation and maintenance of a stable federation is trustworthy information managers adhering to a common set of directives under charter that ensure the fulfillment of both corporate and local interests. This group of experts should facilitate negotiation among the true stakeholders for information rather than building their own information empires.

An anarchy emerges from the breakdown of a centralized form of governance. A typical case might involve top executives realizing the importance of depending on a common set of information processes at the time the company is going through a severe crisis, such as hostile take-over.

But when everyone and his grandmother keeps a personal database, the figures for leads, orders, revenues and costs in one area of operation will quickly diverge from those in another area. That, in a word, is chaos. At such a time, it’s every database for itself.

Survival of the Fittest Database

What works where? The monarchy is the ideal culture and governance model under which to execute a database marketing strategy swiftly to bring order to chaotic marketing operations. Nothing beats a benign dictatorship for getting this type of culture-changing initiative started, promoted and finished quickly. But the trade-offs in terms of creativity, flexibility and breadth can be substantial.

Monarchies are stultifying. The brawn they have in abundance, they may lack in brains. Even El Cid alone couldn't bring Spain out of the Middle Ages and straight into the Renaissance. So, by all means mount up your trusty steed and proceed swiftly but with caution. Don't try to be Da Vinci.

marketing operations governance sharks The best model under which to sustain a database marketing strategy is the federation model. Every team or department holding a stake in the game surrenders some authority to the database marketing team in exchange for the security that comes from relying on a common source of valuable, reliable information and marketing operations support.

There lies stability for you, until interest groups coalesce and begin to infringed upon the "property rights" of the common welfare, by competing for scarce resources, such as when demanding for the fulfillment of special report generation requirements impacting the marketing operations workflow processes that favor one group of users above another, or when pressuring for user feature enhancements catering to prima donnas.

Sounds like Washington DC? No kidding.

Be on the lookout for shifting team dynamics and power lunches, if you control the budget. Else brush up on Machiavelli's "The Prince". You will need to spot him in a heartbeat, or may be look in the mirror if you fail to find him anywhere else.

The best model under which to gain sponsorship is the fiefdom. A monarchy will accomplish the job. A federation will sustain it. But a fiefdom will kick-start it. It will pay for and champion it like none other. It will also wield it to benefit the sponsoring interest group in the hope of strengthening it by creating a silo, usually poised against another silo.

So, if you like jousting and short term oriented projects, if you like a marketing operation for the moment, then this is your ideal situation. Don't forget your armor and all other necessary utensil of medieval warfare, particularly your siege works. You'll need 'em.

Anarchies are for Jedi knights at the Moss Eisley cantina. They're dubious, daunting, deadly -- a galaxy away from the usual governance situation you'd typically encounter -- and quite unreal, though not entirely. You might land on that chaotic planet during a corporate merger, right before or soon after a market recession and its adjunct bloodletting layoff, or even at a fledgling start-up.

Any of these places may display the classic anarchistic symptoms of all chiefs and no indians, Corleonesque "offers you can't refuse" or the idiot leading the clueless. In a place like this you live and die by The Force.

Still, start small. Gather a following. Make a clan and press for fiefdom status. Find a monarch and lay siege to other fiefdom fortresses. Consolidate the marketing operation by force and press forward toward federation. It's a long, hard road. But Rome wasn't built in one day. Neither is your career.

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