The right foundations for a rock-solid marketing operating model: a CMOs checklist

29 Nov 2023

At the start of 2023, Gartner shared that 71% of CMOs said they lacked sufficient budget to fully execute their strategy. Add to that the snippet from our recent AAR Exchange Event where we even went so far as to ask, “Are we all busy fools?” and it’s no wonder that most of our time in 2023 has been spent helping CMOs optimise their marketing operating model. Tough decisions need to be made; CFOs are (sadly) not loosening the purse strings anytime soon. If CMOs want more flexibility in their operating costs, they need to ensure that the foundations of their marketing ecosystem can support business growth.  

Whether it be through the lens of People, Partners, Process or Platforms, marketing teams are re-examining the operational approach for marketing. The meticulously planned marketing strategies CMOs develop will fail if not supported by the right operating model.  

Where should you focus and what can you do as a short, sharp injection to ensure you have the right model going into 2024?  

Our four foundation stones for a strong marketing operating model include:  

  1. Your structure and your people  
  2. Your agency and in-house agency ecosystem  
  3. Your ways of working  
  4. Your Martech and marketing operations  

Here’s what you should be asking yourself. 

1 About your structure and people: 

  • Do you have the right marketing organisational design to deliver growth and integrated customer-centric marketing?   
  • Do you have the right blend of traditional skills in brand storytelling with media, performance and digital disciplines? 
  • Are these teams set up for success in light of any regional/global structures? Where can you centralise to drive efficiencies and better integration? Are you siloed?  
  • Do you have a holistic long-term approach to marketing capability development with the right training to elevate business critical marketing skills? 

2 Is your agency ecosystem fit for purpose?  

  • Is your in-house agency set up for success with clear strategy, prioritisation objectives and ways of working with both your internal team and external agencies? Could it do more? Should it do less? Does it offer you the flexibility you need? Does it have the right level of experts? Is it cost effective?  
  • Are your external agencies set up for success with clear scopes and roles to play? Are you remunerating them correctly? Are there overlaps or gaps? Are the right measurement frameworks in place to drive value and performance?  
  • Have you reassessed your volume production requirements and partnerships? 

 3 Are your ways of working making your team’s work harder or easier?  

  • Do you have agreed and widely communicated planning processes for the delivery of your campaigns? 
  • Do you have a playbook on how to work with your agencies, including around briefing, sign off and measurement processes?  
  • Do you have a clear RACI for inter-team ways of working?    

4 Do you have the right workflow and marketing operations strategy to enable delivery and measurement at scale?  

  • Do you have a workflow system that allows for brief tracking, review and sign off of campaigns? 
  • Do you know how much you are producing, by whom and at what cost? Do you know if it’s working?  
  • Do you have a central DAM to drive reuse and repurpose rather than constant new creative? 

Once you have completed your 2024 marketing operating model questions checklist…don’t despair! Prioritise what should be tackled first in order to give you the best start for what is sure to be another challenging year for marketers.  

If you need help prioritising (or auditing), drop me a line. An investment in solid foundations is never a bad place to start and always a good investment for the future.   

2024 is going to be a fun ride. Let’s get ready! 

About The Author


Robin Charney


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