Creating a learning marketing and sales organisation to win

Business woman africa work 600x300

Delivering sales and marketing excellence in the face of a dynamic market is vitally important for driving brand growth and gaining a competitive advantage. Several studies have shown that companies with better sales and marketing capabilities grow faster; therefore a focus on capabilities is required to ensure brands achieve their desired growth and return on marketing investment.

The landscape today has become complex and unpredictable; this is also exacerbated by the ongoing pressure to deliver above-average growth in tough economic times. In dynamic economic conditions, individuals come and go, meaning that institutional capability over time is eroded and a lack of common points of reference undermine an organisation’s efforts.

Brand manufacturers and distributors cannot underestimate the importance of entrenching marketing and sales skills within their company. Improving ‘intangibles values’ – how people and company resources are brought together to ensure a competitive advantage – has become as important as investment in capital assets in order to sustainably beat the markets, that is why creating a continuous learning marketing organisation has become a necessity.

Skills required range from foundational skills, to data analytics and integrated brand planning, to ensuring brands create valuable consumer experiences to deliver growth and ROI on marketing investment. Winning requires insightful and deliberate planning to ensure long-term consistency to build and reinforce memory structures.

Where learning needs to happen:

Assessing the landscape

This is the starting point of all strategic marketing plans. It needs to be updated each year to adapt to prevailing changes in the market. It lays the framework from which business opportunities are assessed and brand plans are developed. It’s essential for all marketers to have a detailed understanding of the environment they operate in. Poor work on assessing the landscape leads to poor brand decisions – it’s the foundation of all excellent marketing plans. Unfortunately, all too often we constrain ourselves to a category by definitions determined by retailers or researchers. If we are to drive category value creation, a detailed assessment of the landscape our brand plays in through consumers’ eyes is important.

Strategic targets and prime prospects

Identifying target audiences needs to go beyond who marketers are targeting to what this means for brand growth and therefore effective return on marketing investment. This includes ensuring the target is big enough to drive growth and understand their needs to ensure that communication is meaningful and actionable. By clearly identifying the strategic target audience and prime prospects, teams will be able to comprehensively profile their strategic target and prime prospects to ensure succinct, inspiring marketing plans and efficient return on marketing investment when growing brand presence.

Generating insights

Teams should be able to effectively translate target audience insight into brand, concept and strategic solutions. The setting up, delivering and measuring of brand concepts and creative solutions to meet consumer needs, ultimately determines brand growth. Not all briefs are the same – so it is critical to be clear about the strategy, planning and execution deliverables. Additionally, it is important to use post assessments as a means to provide valuable insight to ensure course-correction and refinement of the WHO and WHAT of the brand.

Ultimately, as brands we need to be clear of the underlying truth we are tapping into so that we effectively build or reinforce the brand’s memory structure. Agencies may be able to help in defining the WHAT and WHO; however, brand managers ultimately determine the framework on how insight is effectively translated into action to ensure long-term brand growth.

Deliver business results

How to get the job done and deliver results is the ultimate lever to brand growth. Flawless execution is a must-have skill to ensure a brand overcomes barriers or stimulates triggers for business growth. Bringing strategy to life with perfect execution is a deliberate process to trigger purchase. This is a process that entails design, planning and execution guidelines and benchmarks to ensure the right results at the right time. It is about fewer, bigger and better ideas to ensure desired results. Flawless execution planning needs to be timely to ensure the design and planning by the right people at the right time.

A learning marketing and sales organisation requires focused attention and needs to be tailored to a company’s stage of development. The means a proper needs assessment and development of bespoke programmes that are delivered in a blended approach, ensuring a focus on capabilities that matter most to the organisation.

Masingita Mazibuko is a senior associate at Aperio. Take advantage of Aperio’s free team assessment by emailing [email protected]