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Marketing Governance: Mitigating reputational and financial risks

Good governance needs to underpin all aspects of a business or organisation and this holds true for marketing. Unfortunately, marketing governance tends to be substantially underdeveloped, with blurred responsibilities and a lack of sufficient oversight.

The most evident examples are seen in social media, where a lack of oversight and a failure to link execution with strategic direction, has resulted in significant public mistakes by businesses (including large businesses like Woolworths and McDonalds), as well as not-for-profit organisations (as evidenced through the failed YourTaxis campaign).

Marketing Governance defines the roles and responsibilities of the marketing function, by considering three core elements:

2016-02-29 Levels

  1. Level 1: Executive – Leadership and Direction – Marketing leadership and strategic direction needs to be established at an executive level. This is often the Chief Marketing Officer and the Executive Team, or a combination of the board and Executive Officer within not-for-profit organisations. The strategic marketing direction needs to be consistent with the organisation’s vision.  In particular, the entire marketing mix needs to be considered, to ensure that marketing has visibility and suitable influence across the organisation. Suitable structures should be developed to support the need for marketing to be integrated into other business areas.
  1. Level 2: Management – Accountability and Oversight – Management is accountable for delivering the strategies that will achieve the goals established through the marketing plan. Management should determine the appropriate activities and tactics (within budget and resource parameters) that will collectively achieve the identified direction. Management is responsible for oversight across these activities to ensure consistency and to evaluate results. Management should be empowered to not only measure marketing performance, but to adjust these activities if the expected outcomes are not being realised. As a result, management must be able to measure marketing performance and be fully aware of the customer journey and sequencing that is required to motivate action.
  1. Level 3: Implementation – Execution – Execution is where relevant marketing tactics are undertaken based on the decisions made by management. The execution layer can involve internal teams, external partners or a combined approach, but should always have a clear understanding of the outcomes required. It is imperative that execution activities are briefed correctly and that inputs and outputs are not mistaken for marketing outcomes. Management needs oversight over execution to ensure that outcomes are consistent and delivering anticipated results. Measuring marketing performance enables adjustments and to ensure that all execution elements are working as intended.

Marketing Governance is an area that is far too often overlooked, but is required to ensure the evaluation of marketing performance and to reduce reputational and financial risk.

Marketing, as a function, and organisations overall, need to develop capabilities in marketing governance so we can finally see an end to mistakes that never should have occurred in the first place, had oversight and direction been suitably established.

Alex Makin

Author Alex Makin

In a career spanning over fifteen years, Alex has been instrumental in transforming, reinvigorating and growing the capacity of businesses and not-for-profit organisations. He is a visionary who understands the big picture. Alex's expertise is a Certified Practising Marketer and as Chair of the Victorian State Council of the Australian Marketing Institute. Alex is also an accomplished speaker, author and mentor and former Mayor and Councillor for the City of Maroondah.

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