Are your marketing and business strategies aligned? Alignment is a continual process, not a once a year affair.

Author:Srinivasan, Suresh

A tight economy forces businesses to scrutinize very resource. All too often marketing comes under the gun because its tactics are not perceived by management as having a direct impact on the company's bottom line. If your business is evaluating the value of marketing and looking for ways to cut it, you should first cast a critical eye on whether you have the right management model to ensure that marketing is measurably helping your business achieve its goals. A good management model means marketing and business strategies become aligned and stay aligned. Good alignment means your company gains the flexibility to grow in any economy, and marketing can always demonstrate its direct contribution to achieving business goals.

There are many tell-tale signs of non-alignment. Common symptoms include:

* Management does not believe marketing has a direct impact on the company's financial performance.

* Management feels marketing is out-of-pace with the speed the business is moving.

* Marketing tactics are often discussed yet results are rarely communicated.

Too many functional silos exist within marketing, each fighting separately for management attention and budget.

* It seems there are too many marketing initiatives and no one really understands how or which ones contribute to the bottom line.

* The budgeting process is simply based on last year's budget, not on hard metrics, achievements or what goals the company has set for the coming year.

If you answered "yes" to any of the above, you're likely out of alignment or heading there. The key to rectifying this situation is to take a look at your process for managing the marketing function and to develop a chart of the clear relationships between marketing's objectives, tactics and the business strategies that help it meet its financial goals.

A good management process starts with a unified framework that all stakeholders understand what aids decision making. This framework should be codified into a living document, spreadsheet or chart that is reviewed and evolves over time. A good framework starts with the big picture (input from the CEO, COO and CFO) and then allows functional heads to winnow those down to specific strategies and tactics they can delegate throughout their department. Once approved, this framework should be fed to IT and process leaders who will be tasked with capturing and reporting data back from the field when necessary.

Meeting of the Minds: Understand Business Objectives


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