Five_Core_Marketing_Functions, Andrew_Stein, MBA, Chief_Marketing_Officer, Global_CMO, VP Marketing, Strategy, Operations, Outside_Director, Board_Member, Technology, Services, Energy, Oil_&_Gas, Geologist, Mining, SteinVoxLike trying to understand an electrical circuit board without the schematic, it’s hard to keep up with the complexity and importance of the five core marketing functions without a reminder from time to time.

And, with the daily hype around the tactical effort, tools, and constantly changing environment of social media, it’s easy to lose sight of the five core marketing functions.

As a corporate advisor and successful turnaround CMO, I regularly discuss the big picture as I guide CEOs and executives in building sustainable organizations for the long-term.

If you are a marketing leader, CMO, VP of Marketing, or Director of marketing, and you haven’t read at least a dozen articles in the past 3 months about how “Social Media has changed or replaced marketing,” then you might either be incredibly busy or already understand the foundational five core marketing functions.

Importance of Core Marketing Functions

The five core marketing functions are every bit as important as R&D, operations, and finance – and by many accounts, even more critical to the business. Think back to business school and recall what you learned. Or, review your most recent business failure. Was there enough horsepower behind marketing?  Were the marketing basics of creating value, capturing value and building programs and plans for sustaining value put in place before the social media trigger was pulled?

To understand these core marketing functions, one has to relax and clear their mind of the day to day frenzy of delivering on tactical activities and all the pressures of every other executive’s demands on the marketing function in your organization. To do so, will allow this blog post to give you insight as to how you might need to organize for success. Do it now – relax and breathe deep before you proceed to read.

Oh, yes – you will find social media’s pervasive role described in context of the Five Core Marketing Functions at the very end. That way its tactical potential can be integrated into the structure of these functions more effectively.

Internal Business Process Chain

A good friend, business mentor and coach once told me that every successful business needs three things.

  1. Make a product or service.
  2. Market the product or service to customers.
  3. Manage the money.

This over-simplification makes a point – and helps us avoid being distracted by the most recent shiny object. My friend also indicated that “he has never met the person that could do all three of these functions.” Perhaps there is someone that can do 2 of these, but understand in addition to the different talent required, there probably isn’t enough time in the day to do more than any one of these well.

Recognizing this fact helps to understand the value of organizational roles differentiated from specific tactical activities.  A model I created many years ago and have successfully used in technology companies looks like this.

Marketing_Functions_In_The_Business_Process, Five_Core_Marketing_Functions, Andrew_Stein, MBA, Chief_Marketing_Officer, Global_CMO, VP Marketing, Strategy, Operations, Outside_Director, Board_Member, Technology, Services, Energy, Oil_&_Gas, Geologist, Mining, SteinVox

This model will take some digesting – and it will be the basis for a number of future blog posts from me. Briefly, the following describes the five core marketing functions in the business process.

Corporate Marketing

This function has global marketing domain to set and enforce brand standards, define global infrastructure for public relations (PR), investor relations, advertising, corporate communications, event strategies, user group community programs and production synergies across all marketing. Operates on an annual corporate marketing plan calendar assembled from editorial, PR, product roadmap, and other coordinated calendars to deliver on milestones and objectives.

Strategic Marketing

This function sets strategies for growth, assesses competitive landscape, works with engineering and product management to perform gap analysis, performs make vs. buy analysis, proposes and performs due diligence for merger and acquisition (M&A) targets, creates, develops and manages partner programs, manages key relationships to support technical, business, and other strategic needs. Strategic marketing operates on an opportunity-based calendar.

Product Management

This function is the owner of the product and its long-term strategy (multi-release through end-of-life) and current direction (next release), articulates innovation such that it can be built and marketed. Defines and communicates initial positioning and messaging, pricing strategies, commercialization strategies, go-to-market strategies and competitive positioning. This function works in a cross-functional team with sales, marketing, product development, R&D, engineering and operations functions to achieve pre- and post-launch results. Product management operates on a product-lifecycle calendar.

Product Marketing

This function builds and drives launch plans for products and service offerings, refines raw positioning and messaging (received from Product Managers in MRDs) into crisp value propositions, drives tactics for product and services sales training programs. Product marketing operates on a product-lifecycle calendar.

Field Marketing

This function’s modus operandi is to execute, execute, execute… marketing programs and campaigns that have a singular focus of lead generation and driving opportunities through the pipeline. Operates under a quarterly calendar. This function has dotted-line or direct matrix reporting to the divisional or geographically distributed organizations.

Things To Ponder While Digesting

  • Each of these functions operates on a unique calendar – which is a driver to recognize that there are many core marketing functions.
  • Marketing business processes are not linear – all these core marketing functions are iterative, both on a micro-scale and a macro-scale. Micro-scale means that within a product lifecycle, change can happen through iteration, and on a macro-scale, the process does not end, it circles back to begin again.
  • Marketing presents a unique organizational challenge. Just as no one person can be the R&D (make the product) Marketing and Sales (market the product) and the company accountant (watch the money) – all at the same time, there is no one marketing person that can effectively do all these functions simultaneously.
  • Understanding what we mean by innovation, vs. say, product launch, for example, helps to balance demands on the marketing professionals you have and need by organizing properly and effectively.
  • I know a few human resources professionals who fully understand these functions and the unique demands on each. Engage human resources as a partner and fill any gaps around marketing as business strategy to engage their support.
  • These roles may not all be organized under the Marketing VP or CMO in your company. They may be in silos, in matrix organizations, divisionally structured and/or even globally distributed.
  • Marketing functions may be achieved through shared roles in non-traditional marketing organizational structures. For example, field marketing may be organized in the sales organization. This is not wrong or right, just something again to observe.
  • Whether your company is a small startup, or a large multi-divisional conglomerate – these functions all exist, and are done at some level of effectiveness.
  • Understanding now that each marketing function exists, and the activity is done. Recognizing this from an organizational perspective enables one to coordinate better results.

Pervasive Social Media

Social media fits in each of the five core marketing functions as the anchor to carry on a conversation with the customer. Each function must be connected with the customer, just as every group in a modern company must be. Interestingly, my model demonstrates the pervasive demand of social media in and across an organization. The five functions of marketing are grounded in the business strategy fundamentals of creating value, capturing value and sustaining value – which effectively drives any social media initiative.

Understanding the pervasive shared responsibility for social engagement, this then becomes the single argument against hiring one single social media marketing person or social media marketing agency. It is impossible to expect any effective performance, positive outcome or success beyond some immediate tactical metrics. Social media efforts, and therefore customer engagement, must be grounded in the five core marketing functions.

Social initiatives must be integrated into the larger marketing business processes. They must carry on the conversation with customers, markets and industries that the core goals of the business have outlined at the highest levels of its vision and mission.

Please leave a comment. Others value your thoughts as they ponder and digest how this affects their own organization.

Image Credits: avidd via photopin cc

11 Responses to Five Core Marketing Functions – A Business Organization Blueprint

  1. […] The five core marketing functions are every bit as important as any other function in a company, and by many accounts, may be more important.  […]

  2. Gary Katz says:

    Appreciate your thoughtful response, Andrew. Just wanted to add that in increasingly more marketing organizations, the Marketing Operations leader and the CMO’s Chief of Staff are one-in-the-same. Gary

    • Andrew Stein says:

      Certainly. We are on the same page. In fact, that’s how I ran things as CMO at Paradigm, back in 2007. Alas, this is far from universal, albeit increasingly more common – we yet have a ways to go. FWIW, I would hire my Chief of Staff first over all other leaders on my team, and it would likely be Michelle (the person I had back in 2007. That role is pivotal to success. I truly value the dialog, and your comments.

  3. Gary Katz says:

    Good article. What’s missing is the fastest-growing segment of marketing: Marketing Operations. The five core functions need operational glue to optimize efficiency and effectiveness by ensuring agility, alignment and accountability. Practiced properly, Marketing Operations can be the great enabler for the CMO and all marketers to perform at the highest level and deliver tangible value and impact that is recognized throughout the organization.

    • Andrew Stein says:

      Hi Gary,
      Thank you for the kind words, and comment. I agree with you about Marketing Operations. And, I wouldn’t build a marketing team without it. I left off two areas that I have always found successful in adding to the effectiveness of the Core Functions. One is a Chief of Staff for marketing. Nothing better than having an overseer that can catch things that fall, as marketing moves at the speed of light. The second is a Marketing PMO – or marketing operations.

      I somewhat intentionally left these functions out – leaving license to readers (CMOs, VPs of Marketing, and other leaders) to consider what is the best organizational approach. In some organizations, marketing operations is a discrete piece of marketing. In others, it is a collaboration with Sales operations, IT, and Finance. Operations gets projects done, and is necessary – but may be collaboratively, or matrix organized.

      The CMO in an organization will know what approach will work best for her/his organization. The other 5 marketing functions are marketing alone to own, and cannot be done effectively in a matrix or hybrid organization.

      My intent was to remind professional marketers, that regardless of the current set of “shiny objects that are taking attention from the core of the profession, we cannot let the core go, or Marketing will not deliver when the economic pressure is increasing to deliver.

      Thank you so much Gary for taking the time, and I am honored you have commented.


  4. […] The five core marketing functions are every bit as important as any other function in a company, and by many accounts, may be more important.  […]

  5. […] The five core marketing functions are every bit as important as any other function in a company, and by many accounts, may be more important.  […]

  6. […] The five core marketing functions are every bit as important as any other function in a company, and by many accounts, may be more important.  […]

  7. […] The five core marketing functions are every bit as important as any other function in a company, and by many accounts, may be more important.  […]

  8. Andrew Stein says:

    Hi Jim,

    Thank you for the comment and question. The social-redefining of “inbound” a term that has been in the marketing vernacular for decades since Kottler – eludes me. It reveals that many social media marketing leaders lack a core marketing foundation. I wrote on this issue:

    Strategies for content management and data management should ultimately be set by corporate marketing to leverage synergies across divisions, products and/or projects, which is where the CEO would want it. But, collaboratively these areas will be developed and grow through coordinated efforts across functions and groups based on need. Corporate Marketing stewardship helps prevent the tower-of-babel syndrome, and inordinate cost for duplication.

    Good catch – I will update my slides I use in the board room.


  9. Jim Matorin says:

    Andrew: A lot to digest. Food for thought moving forward. In the new world of inbound marketing where would you put two new processes to add to the equation: Content Management and Data Management?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *