Here’s how you can build a marketing organisation that drives growth

Technologies and customer expectations have changed faster than marketing organisations. Here’s how to fix that.

From the rise of online shopping channels to ad campaigns created for an audience of one, consumer marketing has changed more in the past ten years than it did in the previous 30.

Despite that level of change and disruption, if you had put a few typical marketers from the 1980s into a time machine and sent them into the marketing departments of today, they would probably feel right at home, says a report, Building a marketing organisation that drives growth today by McKinsey.

New world, same world?

There might be a new IT department and a few other changes, but the job titles, structures, approach to performance management – even the vocabulary – would be remarkably familiar.

That’s not a good thing, say the authors Raphael Buck, Biljana Cvetanovski, Alex Harper and Björn Timelin. The truth is, while the proliferation of new channels and technologies has dramatically changed the environment in which marketers operate, the way they organise and approach their tasks has stayed more or less the same.

Orchestrating the marketing ecosystem

The digital age has made the old agency model redundant, with the emergence of an array of narrower, more specialised services.

Making effective use of these capabilities requires new management approaches and ways of working. The traditional notion of managing a roster of a single media agency and one or two creative agencies of record seems like a relic from ancient marketing history.

Today’s world features multiple channels and capabilities, such as search, social, programmatic and content management, all of which need to be closely coordinated to be effective, says the report.


The teams that deliver these services – whether internal or external – need to function as an interconnected ‘ecosystem.’ An early decision is figuring out what to handle internally and what to outsource to an external partner.

Core competencies such as strategy are best handled by the brand, while execution functions and experimenting with new media or channels can be handled by external partners.

Over time, as the brand has a clearer sense of the value of the new capabilities, many activities will shift to internal teams.

The real complexity comes in orchestrating all of the teams. For this model to work, agencies can no longer be simple inputs in a linear process. Instead, they need to be partners collaborating with brands and each other to create campaigns and assets, the report adds.