Managing the Matrix: An Essential Part of Every Marketing Role

Too often, it’s the last thing a deadline-driven marketing team thinks of or wants to do: seek involvement and input from other groups in the company. The usual reasons given – “I don’t have time”; “It will complicate things”; “I know what needs to be done” – only touch the surface of why. Inevitably, further down the execution path, the piper gets his due when sales doesn’t embrace a product launch plan or buyers become confused by competing marketing campaigns. This begs the question: Why is it that we usually find the time to do something over, rather than get it right the first time?

Businesses have long grappled with finding effective ways to access and leverage skills and competencies locked inside functional boundaries that rely heavily on lines of authority to get things done. Marketing is no stranger to this phenomenon; yet, to be successful, it must build alliances across multiple disciplines. For example, product/solution marketers must interlock with sales, development and campaign teams to bring products to market; and brand teams are increasingly required to align with sales, content developers, social media initiatives and campaign strategists to shape impactful messaging.

Is the time and effort to cultivate and sustain key internal relationships and rationalize diverse or conflicting priorities worth it? SiriusDecisions research indicates that high-performance marketing organizations think so, leveraging internal sales and marketing alignment to outperform their peers in demand creation. These leaders make managing the matrix a habit with an ever-present mental checklist:

  • Who are the stakeholders who will impact success?
  • What information do I owe them and what do I need from them?
  • How and when should I involve them to drive best results?

Instead of thinking about avoiding “internal interference,” recognize that managing the matrix is an essential part of every marketing role. What we’ve learned is that you don’t always need authority to get things done, but you do need alignment.

 

About the Author

Marilyn Reap is Research Director, Executive Edge: CMO, at SiriusDecisions. For more than 25 years, she has led marketing, sales and consulting professionals through significant business re-engineering and organizational change, providing thought leadership, team building and innovative strategies. Follow Marilyn on Twitter @MarilynReap.


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