Smarter, Faster, Better -- Vs. How You Run Marketing Today

Henry Ford had success because he saw an opportunity to create a smarter assembly process for cars. The McDonald brothers developed the “Speedee Service System” and evolved the hamburger development process, which Ray Kroc bought and expanded. Jeff Bezos created a super-efficient delivery system from a bookstore.

These examples show that it pays to look at how you work, not just what you produce. And that's something marketers don’t do nearly enough.

This is not totally surprising. Most CMOs have no interest in things that do not deliver a (near) immediate return on investment. They're on the relentless treadmill of results to be delivered this month, this quarter and this year.

They rarely devote time to asking, “if I were to restart my marketing ecosystem today, would I design my organization, my external resources, and where my team and I spend most of our time and energy, the same way we do it today?”

The answer is usually no. But changing what they have to something better is a process that takes time, energy, some dedication of resources and patience.



Changing the way you work is about as hard as changing the way you measure your results.

Both are typically deeply ingrained in the organization and provide a level of familiarity and confidence while the organization navigates the VUCA world of marketing (VUCA = volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity). So changing these pillars of how you work/measure adds to the anxiety of the team’s already challenging world. And instead of ripping off the Band-Aid, most organizations look the other way and keep on muddling through.

But the benefits really do outweigh the drawbacks, as real as they are.

The most obvious benefit is jettisoning waste. In a poorly functioning organization and work process, or one that is based on an outdated way of working or org structure, money and energy are lost. This goes straight back to the examples of Ford and McDonald’s: They found a better, more productive way of creating their desired output.

The objective is of course not just “cheaper,” but a better functioning and better aligned process, designed for what is needed going forward, rather than what was put in place five or even 10 years ago.

I recommend you design processes for the next three years, rather than just optimizing what you have today.

The immediate second ROI is a talent benefit. We are all aware of the war on talent and the great resignation. The Mayo Clinic lists “inability to influence decisions that affect your job, unclear job expectations and dysfunctional workplace dynamics” as the top three reasons for employee burnout. Those do sound a lot like “ways of working” issues.

The final benefit is better outcomes. The VUCA world demands more complex marketing plans, agility, use of data, etc. None of those can be easily accomplished if your process is not designed for it. So, go through the pain of rethinking your “how” of marketing. It may hurt a little, but ultimately pays back.

1 comment about "Smarter, Faster, Better -- Vs. How You Run Marketing Today".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, March 21, 2022 at 6:27 p.m.

    Great post Maarten.   Great brands are like Rome - not built in a day (or a quarter or a year).  

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