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Why Alignment is Critical For Today's CMO

Steve Olenski
Master Principal Sales Architect

I don't know about you but when I heard the word "alignment" I immediately think of a car or motorized vehicle with this definition being apropos "the proper positioning or state of adjustment of parts (as of a mechanical or electronic device) in relation to each other."

However, when it comes to the world of marketing and specifically from a CMO perspective, the proper positioning or state of adjustment of parts takes on a whole new meaning. 

In fact the topic of alignment is so critical for CMOs it warranted its own section in our recently-released eBook, The CMO Solution Guide For Building A Modern Marketing Organization. Created in partnership with The CMO Club and authored by John Ellett, CEO, nFusion, the guide shares recommendations based on in-depth interviews with over 20 progressive CMOs and senior digital marketing executives.

Rise & Align

Ok, please pardon that horrible play on words and I will refrain from trotting out lines that start out "CMOs need to wake up..." to play off the whole rise thing. 

But make no mistake about alignment is critical for any CMO looking to build a Modern Marketing Organization. Moreover, alignment is important for a variety of reasons, five to be specific, according to Clive Sirkin, CMO of Kimberly Clark.

• First, you’ve got to align on what your model is and then be true to it. Pick one and do it properly and continue to talk about how to improve that model versus pretending you’re picking one yet trying to do another. Align the top 25 people in your organization with that and have them talk consistently about it.

• The second level of alignment is the foundation tools. Let’s get aligned on what the brand stands for and how to express it at a high level.

• The third level of alignment is strategic alignment. Let’s agree on what the strategic plan is, and as a consequence of P&L, what the KPIs are for the brands and the business units globally.

• The fourth level of alignment is what the brand plan looks like and what the programs are going to be in each market for each brand.

• The last level of alignment is how our teams are going to work together as one team to execute on that plan.

"You can imagine if you are off at any one of these levels the further you are into the organization, the greater the gap is," says Sirkin. "So we try to talk as an organization about the impact of what we are doing, even as to how that impacts you four levels into the organization."

Keeping a marketing organization aligned is frequently referred to as orchestration. The analogy is appropriate. In symphonies, a composer writes the sheet music, a conductor conducts the performance, and musicians play their instruments.

The fact is alignment happens more often in organizations that are collaborative. To build more collaborative relationships within your company, try asking these five questions:

1. Are we aligned on expectations?
2. Do we dependably fulfill those expectations?
3. Do we share common vocabulary and information?
4. Do we communicate frequently and honestly enough?
5. Do we treat each other with respect?

To learn more as to how leading CMOs and senior digital marketing executives build modern marketing organizations, download The CMO Solution Guide For Building A Modern Marketing Organization.

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