Why Process Eats A Bigger And Bigger Breakfast

A few weeks ago I asked my LinkeIn network their view on how best to achieve excellent marketing performance. I did a simple poll with three options: Great marketing strategy? Great marketing skills? Or Great marketing processes?

Here’s the result and I’ll also explain why I believe marketing process will be eating marketing strategy, and even marketing skills, for breakfast soon.

POLL RESULT: In the poll most respondents consider marketing skills to be the key lever. This is an interesting shift from the focus on strategy which for the past 15+ years has held the top spot. Only few consider process to be important.

WAVES IN MARKETING: I’ve worked with international marketing for 20 years and thus have been through several waves and shifts in the evolution of the practice. 

From Corporate Religion to Internet 1.0 to eCommerce to Experience Economy to Internet 2.0 to Brand Management revisited to Omnichannel to The Long & Short etc… Ya know.

STRATEGY: Since the advent of digital and the ability to measure effect very directly, strategy and KPIs have overtaken ‘creative’ as the key to marketing success. A terrific development, if you ask me. While important, creative is and can ever only be a tactic to support the strategy.

SKILLS: Then, from what I’ve seen the past 3-5 years, skills have crept up the list. Two years ago I conducted a similar poll, the result showing that skills shared the top spot with KPIs. And lo and behold, skills are now at a very comfortable number one position.

Also a great development, and most likely a result of the proliferation of the marketing discipline the past 10 years, spawning a host of new and very specialized subject areas. And a welcomed appreciation of marketing being more than the department for Facebook pages, pamphlets, funny hats.

PROCESS: Now, it is my contention that the next development of the marketing practice is going to be about process. Why? 

Because marketing is becoming ever more complex. Fragmented in channels, touchpoints, products, segments, markets, stakeholders, skills, technology, agencies in a continued iterative loop. And something needs to make it all come together. Enter process.

Without process, the strategy risks being disintegrated, if it’s developed at all. Without process, the skills are suboptimised. In fact, without process the entire marketing output is reduced, both in quality and quantity. 

Of course, all three dimensions are important and reinforce each other. When managed together, they provide the means for exceptional marketing performance that is sustained, not just achieved momentarily or periodically.

I find marketing processes to be an undervalued field – and reversely an opportunity with enormous upside. I know of only a few brands and companies that are actively driving and managing their marketing processes. And an awful lot who don’t know what marketing processes even are.

Which one are you?

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