HomeBlog Do You Really Need a Portfolio Marketing Leader?

Do You Really Need a Portfolio Marketing Leader?

January 09, 2014 | By Jessica Lillian

Whether launching an offering or expanding into new markets, b-to-b organizations depend on product marketers, solution marketers, industry marketers, and business unit marketers to gather crucial knowledge and execute strategies. Portfolio marketing is the glue that holds all of these activities together, and the leader of this essential function brings focus and alignment to the product, solution and industry marketing components of the marketing organization.

Whether launching an offering or expanding into new markets, b-to-b organizations depend on product marketers, solution marketers, industry marketers, and business unit marketers to gather crucial knowledge and execute strategies. But something is often missing.

Portfolio marketing is the glue that holds all of these activities together, according to Marisa Kopec, vice president and group director at SiriusDecisions. The leader of this essential function brings focus and alignment to the product, solution and industry marketing components of the marketing organization.

However, many organizations lack a portfolio marketing leader. During a recent SiriusDecisions webcast, Marisa defined portfolio marketing and told attendees why the role is so important – especially as many companies increasingly focus on solution selling.

“Product marketing was about marketing products, and solution marketing was about marketing solutions,” she explained. “Portfolio marketing is a term that captures all of the above to accurate reflect a company’s entire go-to-market strategy, no matter what the offering is.”

Without guidance from a portfolio marketing leader, dangerous internal silos can form. “One of the biggest misalignments we see is product marketing and solution marketing competing for sales mindshare, or firing overlapping communications into the market,” Marisa said.

For example, if a new product doesn’t fit into the existing solution architecture, an organization typically launches a new campaign. The portfolio marketing leader must ensure that the new campaign coordinates with existing efforts and does not waste internal resources or target the wrong audiences.

More broadly, portfolio marketing aligns all products, services and solutions to market segments (including industries and geographic regions) and audiences or buyer personas, and creates the mapping for the organization’s go-to-market architecture. The function also plays a major role in content strategy and might also identify market opportunities independently.

But isn’t the CMO in charge of go-to-market strategy? Can’t he or she handle this type of work?

“It’s hard to orchestrate within the boundaries of the CMO job role,” Marisa said. “The CMO should be assisted by an empowered portfolio marketing leader who is capable of integrating and aligning the diverse components of the organization’s go-to-market strategy.” Marisa recommended that organizations place the portfolio marketing leader directly below the CMO, closely linking the various go-to-market functions to executive leadership.

Because organizations have finite marketing resources for the year, marketing must be unified in its strategy and campaigns, Marisa concluded. Every variation of go-to-market activity cannot be accommodated. It’s up to the portfolio marketing leader to determine what everyone – from the Web design team to the marketing campaign manager – will focus on.  This leadership role drives efficiency and clarity across the organization.

Jessica Lillian

Jessica F. Lillian is a senior editor at SiriusDecisions and has more than seven years of b-to-b editorial experience, including five years as the editor of national b-to-b magazines. Follow Jessica on Twitter @jessica_lillian

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