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How CMOs can build a unicorn marketing team

By Joanna Verkade |



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This content is produced by a member of The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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December 2, 2021 | 7 min read

Read our first article on striking a balance between creativity and data to drive growth and our second article on chief marketers’ influence over the C-Suite.

Capgemini tie up their three part Playbook series considering the importance of cross-skill collaboration.
Capgemini ties up its three-part Playbook series considering the importance of cross-skill collaboration

The skills required to be a great marketer are changing. Traditional marketing talent tends to be more creative, but with the shift toward data and digital, the modern marketer requires both an artistic and creative mindset, as well as an analytical and methodological viewpoint.

Capgemini tie up their three part Playbook series considering the importance of cross-skill collaboration.

Capgemini ties up its three-part Playbook series considering the importance of cross-skill collaboration

These creative analytical wizards are rare. As a result, chief marketers should not expect individuals to be the master of all, but instead focus on building a blended team ­to form one giant unicorn. Gjensidige’s Janneke Tranas Marino says: “The most effective way to break down silos is to have a clear methodology and structure as to how cross-functional teams will work.”

The perfect blend of data and creativity within a team can strengthen skillsets and generate meaningful outcomes. Take Spotify’s ‘Only You’ campaign, integrating data about listening habits with creativity to create a personalized in-app experience and buzz-worthy campaigns.

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How do you create this golden team?

Chief marketers must ensure their department is a blended talent ecosystem with the right mix of data v creativity and intelligence v emotional quotient.

1) Outsource specialist talent

Working with external agencies is common practice, with 81% of marketers partnering with marketing agencies. Outsourcing is a quick way to gain expertise in a certain field, with access to a larger talent pool and the ability to pilot a new capability with managed risk.

A leading European retailer tasked Frog, part of Capgemini Invent, to design and execute its digital marketing strategy with a team sitting across tech, marketing and consumer experience.

Frog formed a blended project team of subject-matter experts, creating a digital pilot (which was tested across marketing campaigns) and carrying out a CRM and marketing technology assessment. This pilot informed the specialist marketing tools to implement to scale its digital marketing strategy. The project was successful, with the digital pilot campaigns driving a 60% increase in email CTR. Combined, the initiatives unlocked over 9% footfall uplift after four years.

2) Hybrid model

A hybrid approach can reap similar benefits. This approach focuses on capabilities in-house with agency support, offering greater access to talent while controlling cost and performance. Neeraj Bhalla, vice-president of digital at Mahindra Group, echoes the importance of this hybrid approach: “We have campaigns delivered by agencies but we monitor the campaign efficiency and outcomes in real-time, and we decide the call to action.”

For example, Unilever partnered with Frog to design, build and scale the People Data Centre (PDC), a social and business analytics capability that delivers unprecedented insights at speed with a data-driven approach to marketing and business decisions. This initially followed an agency model while the capability was being built, then became a hybrid model with in-house data capabilities, layered with Frog data storytellers and strategists.

This partnership helped put data and insights at the heart of Unilever’s decision-making. This has been deployed across 27 markets to all key brands and categories. Unilever has achieved €150m of estimated incremental revenues and €60m worth of savings on external research costs.

3) In-house expertise

Our research found that 43% of marketers plan to bring the work done by marketing agencies in-house in the next two to three years. Cyrille Giraudat, senior vice-president at RATPDev, says: “We often leverage and source solutions from the market but, for some specific use cases, we design our own solution internally.” One way to close a skills gap is to upskill colleagues on specific areas by providing support and tools. Chief marketers need to develop and promote continuous learning, as marketing is constantly evolving.

Another way to gain expertise in a particular area is to recruit specialists. Initially this may be challenging, especially if your company is not renowned in that area. This is a common problem, as artistic souls look to work at advertising agencies, and data-minded folk seek out tech companies.

Solving for now

Creating a blended team should be your long-term goal. For a quick win, have your data and creative teams sit side-by-side to drive collaboration and break down silos. This approach will help improve speed-to-market and drive innovation and consumer excellence at scale. See Nike’s decision to sit its data teams alongside creative teams to encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing.

A future-fit marketing team

In order to create a future-fit marketing team to drive sustainable growth, chief marketers must set their team up for success. It’s vital that chief marketers build a balanced team with blended and diverse skillsets.

To keep up with this digital shift, we recommend that brands consider a hybrid approach in the next two years to maximize the benefits of specialist talent, while monitoring and controlling costs and performance. As a minimum, chief marketers need to ensure their teams are constantly collaborating to achieve the right balance of creativity, data and insights. This will translate into growth and drive the foundations for meaningful consumer relationships.

For more, download our CMO playbook and Disruption Fatigue Report.

Joanna Verkade, digital marketing consultant at Frog UK, part of Capgemini Invent.

Modern Marketing Agency

Content by The Drum Network member:

frog is a leading global creative consultancy, part of Capgemini Invent. We challenge the status quo to craft and build transformative human experiences that win hearts and move markets.

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