HomeBlog What Can CMOs at Large Enterprises Learn From Their Counterparts at Emerging Firms?

What Can CMOs at Large Enterprises Learn From Their Counterparts at Emerging Firms?

February 17, 2015 | By Alan Gonsenhauser

  • Entrepreneurial behavior and quick responsiveness to customers are more challenging as organizations grow
  • Many small companies don’t have the talent or resources to optimize organizational design or go-to-market models
  • Small companies need to remain agile and do more with less to survive

We all know that larger ships are more difficult to steer. Entrepreneurial behavior and quick responsiveness to customers get more challenging as organizations scale and grow. Complexity rises with multiple geographies, product lines, customer segments and vertical markets.

Conversely, many small companies don’t yet have the experience, talent or resources to optimize organizational design, strategic visioning or go-to-market models. They need to remain agile and do more with less to survive.

Sometimes, less is more. Is efficiency or enterprise effectiveness gained or lost with growth? Perhaps both?

Having been a CMO at large enterprises and emerging firms across industries, I’ve seen a variety of situations and results as organizations have scaled beyond various echelons of growth. The following are points that CMOs at large enterprises may wish to discuss with their emerging-firm CMO counterparts:

  • Agility. How are decisions made? How quickly does the organization come to consensus and capture new market opportunities? How many individuals or groups are involved in decisions? Have lead times or decision effectiveness changed with growth?
  • Alignment. How well does the CMO partner with his or her C-suite peers? Are they on the same page? Do marketing, sales, product, finance and IT speak the same language? Are there alignment issues within marketing? Is there a common language and understanding of growth pillars and playbooks between marketing, sales and product functions?
  • Customer centricity. How effectively does the firm drive customer satisfaction? How quickly are customer issues identified and resolved? Do functions think and act alike where customer satisfaction is concerned? Has company size had any impact?
  • Organization design. As the organization has grown, have any silos formed? If so, where are they and how do they impact efficiency, cost and effectiveness?
  • Innovation process. Does the organization focus mainly on incremental, “sustaining” innovations to extend its existing business model? Is the organization capable of embracing new technologies and approaches, which could disrupt its own business model? If not, what’s the risk of a competitor or smaller new entrant becoming a serious threat with “good enough” offerings?
  • Resource usage. Are there ineffective or redundant resource pockets as the organization has grown? How will the CMO recognize and adjust essential vs. unnecessary resources?

Has your firm become any less efficient with growth? Has decisionmaking slowed as more people have become involved or silos emerged? Is your firm more vulnerable to new entrants?

Revisiting how smaller firms handle the above issues can identify opportunities for large marketing organizations to mitigate these common pitfalls of growth. In many cases, CMOs at large organizations can find ways to rekindle their teams’ agility and productivity.

If you have experience with both large and small organizations, what do you think are some of the most important things they can learn from each other? Please use the comments section to share your ideas.

Alan Gonsenhauser

Alan Gonsenhauser is a Research Director of CMO and Marketing Executive Strategies at SiriusDecisions. He is passionate about accelerating growth, driving innovations and leading business transformations. At SiriusDecisions, he works closely with global chief marketing officers and sales and product leaders to drive positive organizational change and cross-functional alignment, benchmark against peers, and mobilize deployment of new marketing methods to accelerate innovation and growth. Follow Alan on Twitter @agonsenhauser.

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