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(originally published by Booz & Company)


Six Types of Marketing Organizations: Where Do You Fit In?

Is your marketing approach in sync with your company’s needs? Here’s how to figure that out.

When Eric Kim became Samsung’s executive vice president of global marketing in 1999, he found a marketing organization unsuited to the task at hand and a company not ready for the proactive approach Samsung needed from its marketing team.

Earlier in the decade, Samsung had made the decision to transform itself from a low-cost producer of electronics, sold primarily under the brand names of its OEM customers, to a manufacturer of high-end digital products. Quickly enough, management realized these electronic goods would reap higher margins if they were sold under Samsung’s own brand. Industry icon Sony had made much the same transition years earlier. Yet the marketing organization Mr. Kim inherited was not equipped for such a marketing-driven push.

Samsung’s brand message was fragmented, and marketing budgets were generally driven by short-term programs such as price promotions, according to a case study prepared by John Quelch and Anna Harrington of Harvard Business School. Mr. Kim explained in the report: “Our managers believed that good products sell themselves, that marketing was nothing more than selling, and that selling was only needed when you had a me-too or weak product.”

This type of resistance is nothing new. However, for a company that needed a more active marketing effort, it was a major problem. Mr. Kim eventually did solve it at Samsung. Indeed, we believe solutions to all such problems require a common approach. Marketers must work to understand (1) what type of marketing organization they have in place, and (2) what type of organization the company actually needs.

To help marketers meet those goals, Booz Allen Hamilton and the Association of National Advertisers have joined together to examine the types of marketing organizations that commonly exist today and their best paths of evolution to keep up with the companies and industries in which they live. Our examination identified six distinct types, or profiles, of marketing organizations. All have unique strengths, and each is appropriate to particular types of companies in certain competitive circumstances.

Growth Champion. This organization is highly valued within the company for its ability to drive revenue. It is considered as important as other major departments, such as finance and sales. It drives the company’s priorities and leads product innovation and new business development.

Senior Counselor. Functioning as a high-level advisor on marketing strategy to the chief executive officer and the individual businesses, the Senior Counselor leads major advertising, promotion, and public relations campaigns. Unlike the Growth Champion, however, it does not typically drive company-wide strategy.

Brand Foreman. Above all, the Brand Foreman is an efficient provider of marketing services, ranging from communications strategy to creative output and campaign execution, in support of the company’s key brands. It serves as the central manager of agency relationships, and is considered among the company’s most important support organizations.

Growth Facilitator. The Growth Facilitator has the authority and skills to develop and lead large, company-wide marketing efforts and helps set the business’s overall priorities. This marketing organization coordinates with other major functions, such as sales and product development.

Best Practices Advisor. The Best Practices Advisor works with the individual businesses to identify internal and external best practices and incorporate them into all marketing activities. This organization’s goal is helping the businesses achieve maximum effectiveness and efficiency, and it has expertise across all elements of the marketing toolkit.

Service Provider. This organization supplies marketing services such as advertising, promotion, and public relations at the request of the company’s brand and product teams. The Service Provider is effective at executing specific tasks and is responsive to time-sensitive requests.

Although many marketing organizations profess to fulfill most or all of these functions, they tend, in practice, to gravitate into only one of these roles. Knowing which type of marketing organization exists within a company is thus a critical first step. Then, the challenge is to understand where the company is heading and make sure the marketing team is configured properly.

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  1. Des Dearlove, editor, Results-Driven Marketing: A Guide to Growth and Profits (strategy+business Books, 2005), Click here.
  2. Paul Hyde, Edward Landry, and Andrew Tipping, “Making the Perfect Marketer,” s+b, Winter 2004, Click here.
  3. Tim Laseter, Alex Kandybin, and Pat Houston, “Marketing and Operations: Can This Marriage Be Saved?” s+b, First Quarter 2002, Click here.
  4. Leslie H. Moeller, Sharat K. Mathur, and Randall Rothenberg, “The Better Half: The Artful Science of ROI Marketing,” s+b, Spring 2003, Click here.
  5. John A. Quelch and Anna Harrington, “Samsung Electronics Co.: Global Marketing Operations,” Harvard Business School Publishing, March 2, 2004, Click here.
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