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Growing in hard times

Growing revenue and cost-effectively scaling a business in a highly competitive market is no mean feat. This is compounded by the challenging economic climate. Today, medium and large businesses alike are finding it tough to meet demands to deliver more with less.

Organisations are increasingly scrutinising sales and marketing metrics and Return on Investment in order to justify their value at board level. B2B mega businesses – particularly those in the multi-product technology market with extensive networks of channel partners – are being tasked to reduce costs (which typically translates into fewer resources), drive efficiency and improve the quality of outputs. The burden to achieve this lies heavily on the shoulders of sales & marketing leaders.


What does this spell for marketing in 2013?

Four consecutive years of economic hardship means that most businesses have already stripped back and are managing with minimal, streamlined resources. Recovery is likely to be slow and painful, but businesses are making plans for growth. Those with big ambitions realise they need to take decisive action to seize emerging opportunities.

However, budgets are typically a fraction of what they were. And there is immense pressure on marketing departments to be more transparent with their metrics and to work to tangible key performance indicators.  

Strategy, planning and creativity will continue as core competencies of marketing. However, the discipline is also turning to technology to deliver more sophisticated execution of data-driven strategies, customer roadmaps and nurturing. Marketing operations and the ‘back office’ engine room of the marketing department – leveraging sales force automation, customer relationship management, business intelligence and marketing automation tools – are taking on greater prominence. There is a growing need for strategies to be metric-driven. Marketers have to understand conversion rates and ensure campaigns are backed up with business intelligence. But the frameworks to deliver this are time-consuming to create, and implementing them requires a significant amount of organisational bandwidth. Many businesses simply lack the capacity and the capability.


Marketing Process Outsourcing

Against this backdrop, marketing process outsourcing is likely to come into its own in 2013.

Unlike traditional business process outsourcing, which is usually associated with cost-cutting, and too often leads to an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude, MPO works best with a partnership approach. Back office marketing functions are given dedicated attention from people specifically trained to deliver maximum value from their application.

The main benefit of an MPO model is that it enables back office tools to be supported and leveraged to their full potential. Too often, the clever capabilities of modern tools are under-utilised. MPO offers a cost-effective, scalable way to access additional resources and niche skills in areas such as marketing automation.


A framework for success

The main critical success factor for MPO relates to people - the foundation skills, acumen and attitude of the individuals who deliver the marketing process work. This isn’t a battery chicken approach. You need an MPO team who can think for themselves and contribute to the planning and execution process. They need to work with agility and intuition, taking action based on the data and insights they uncover.

Measurement is also vital. Key performance indicators should be agreed at the outset and revisited regularly. When you engage an MPO partner, ensure they are focused on the right things. It’s not about simply completing tasks ‘on time’ but delivering tangible benefits, outputs and ROI.

Most importantly, you need to ensure the MPO’s output is well integrated into the central organisation. The framework should involve a seamless connection between the external and internal teams, with a clear, sequential hand-over and closed loop engagement.

For mega businesses that want to drive growth, finding innovative ways to consolidate and centralise back office marketing is going to be central to success. When it comes to MPO, it’s not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’? 


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