Why Global Marketing Structure Must Follow Strategy

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I just finished reading a fascinating article titled, “Why Global Marketing Structure Must Follow Strategy,” by Marc de Swaan Arons and Frank van den Driest (2010). Fascinating.

This article discusses Sony Ericsson’s Lennard Hoornik’s plan to develop a new vision and role for the brand and global marketing. An excerpt from the article states:

We’ve studied all areas of global marketing. Our findings consistently show that organization, roles and responsibility, and global behaviors are without doubt one of the knottiest global marketing leadership challenges out there. Yet few global marketers have the stomach or energy to tackle the subject.

This article intrigued me because it doesn’t simply state that successful global marketing strategies include analyzing foreign markets, competition, cultural differences, and the other major elements that most articles discuss. Rather, this article discusses the importance of analyzing the internal structure of a company – the roles and responsibilities of employees, and the importance of approach and communication efficiencies.

The article states that global marketing leaders admit that they initially underestimated the importance of addressing their organization structure and processes . . . yet they rarely do anything to fix this problem.

For Samsung, Hoornik came in and analyzed the marketing objectives and global trends. From there, he shifted focus to reconnect personnel to the role of the marketing department, and made sure that role was fully understood. He then made sure that the marketing department reconnected with the company as a whole, as well as with its stakeholders. Once the department was reconnected, he knew that he had to prepare it for the growth of the new more global marketing organization. This meant a “redesign of the marketing organization, cutting overall headcount numbers, and making it ‘fit for purpose’ for the new strategy.”

By focusing on the internal structure of a marketing organization, a company can eliminate roadblocks, confusion, and duplication, and they can find new ways of working to enable the brand vision to be translated into reality.

This is the first time I have heard about developing a global strategy and tailoring the structure of your department to meet the needs of that strategy. Normally, a strategy is tailored to meet the needs of the department. This seems, to me at least, to be brilliant. If you have a global marketing strategy with extreme potential, maybe the best way to be successful is to tailor yourself to meet that strategy? Not to tailor the strategy itself . . .

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