What is Content Marketing? IDC’s Definition of Content Marketing

If you looked away for a split second you may have missed the rise of Content Marketing from “buzz word” to “must have”. In fact, at the beginning of 2014 CMOs at the largest technology companies reported that “Building out content marketing as an organizational competency” was the 2nd most important initiative, only behind measuring ROI. Since then, they have responded by putting more budget, staff, and energy into the area, yet there is still confusion around the topic. What exactly is Content Marketing? Is it a type of marketing asset? Is it a process or a technique? Or something else?


IDC’s CMO Advisory Service, has seen this issue first hand and to help remedy the situation the group has  published a document, What Is Content Marketing? IDC Defines One of Marketing’s Most Critical New Competencies. Included within is a formal definition for Content Marketing.

IDC’s Definition of Content Marketing

Content marketing is any marketing technique whereby media and published information (content) are used to influence buyer behavior and stimulate action leading to commercial relationships. Optimally executed content marketing delivers useful, relevant information assets that buyers consider a beneficial service rather than an interruption or a “pitch.”

What is Included Within Content Marketing?

A definition is a great start, but the question that follows is, “What is, and is not Content Marketing?” To help marketers become more grounded in this definition of content marketing the CMO Advisory Service has also published a guide for “Types of Marketing Assets.” In the graphic below you can see the break out of marketing assets into three categories:

  • Content Marketing Assets 
  • Product Marketing Assets
  • Corporate Marketing Assets

Each is important to the company and within the marketing mix, but only content marketing is new in purpose and new in form. Also, key to remember is Content Marketing Assets are not replacements for Product Marketing Assets or Corporate Marketing Assets.

Why Content Marketing, Why Now?

For decades the marketing team produced communication assets about its products, services, and about the company itself.  Before the digital era, sales people were the primary persuaders and these assets were used as sales tools. Marketing conducted some persuasive outreach, primarily through direct mail. However, this little thing called the internet changed everything – as digital technologies have progressed, buyers have become increasingly self-sufficient, the contribution of the sales person has eroded. This erosion leaves a gigantic gap in a vendor’s go-to-market capability. How do companies build these relationships with buyers if they won’t talk with sales people? Content Marketing fills this gap.

At IDC we believe that marketers must continue work to keep pace with their buyers. To be successful, not only is agility required, but clear guidelines and processes on how to execute new and exciting practices like Content Marketing.

Sam Melnick is Senior Reasearch Analyst with IDC’s CMO Advisory Service, follow him on Twitter: @SamMelnick

Why Participate in IDC’s Marketing Barometer Survey

The CMO Advisory Service at IDC is conducting its annual barometer survey. This is the 10th year of the survey.  All respondents will receive a free copy of the report produced from the results of the survey and an invitation to IDC’s exclusive Client Telebriefing.

During The CMO Advisory’s 2012 Marketing Benchmarks survey we collected data from ~100 of the largest and most influential tech companies, their combined revenue totaled nearly $750 Billion.  The barometer survey provides a “finger in the wind” follow up to the Benchmark Survey providing detailed guidance to senior marketers. Areas of focus include: budget ratios, program spend, headcount allocation, and in-depth insights into key trends in the industry and forward looking roles and programs.   
If you are interested in participating: contact Sam Melnick at smelnick (at) idc (dot) com
Below are some answers to questions you might have:

Q: A free report and webinar, cool! Wait what type of information will they contain?
A: The results of the survey will be used to analyze the direction of marketing resource expenditures and priorities during the next 6-12 months. So questions like the following will be answered:
  • How aggressively are marketing budgets increasing or decreasing in my sector this year?
  • What marketing staff positions or programs should I look to invest in?
  • What up and coming areas should I be looking into this year to create a world class marketing organization?
  •  What are next week’s Powerball numbers? (Ok we won’t answer that question, if we knew we probably wouldn’t tell you…sorry).
Q: Who should take the survey?
A: Marketing executives who are in a position of responsibility for worldwide marketing practices.
Q: How long will it take?
A: Depending on several factors, as quick as 15 minutes!
Q: I can’t get this done today, when do you need to have it completed by?
A:  To receive the report and an invitation to IDC’s exclusive Client Telebriefing participants need to complete the survey by Wed Feb 13, 2013. Also, all of the information must be accurately provided in order to be included in the study and receive the free deliverables.
If you are interested in participating: contact Sam Melnick at smelnick (at) idc (dot) com

Q: I can’t answer this question, I need input from my colleagues…help?
A: No worries, if you leave the webpage it will save your progress.
Q: What types of companies participate in this survey?
A: Some of the largest tech and tech related companies in the world participate (again total revenue of participants reaches upwards of $1 Trillion), but plenty of companies who may not have as many 0’s in their revenue line, but are growing quickly and have exciting products, do participate and receive great value from the deliverables!
Q: Some of this information is kind of confidential, I want to trust you, but can I?
A: As stated above, the CMO Advisory Service has been doing surveys like this for 10+ years. All answers will be kept confidential by IDC and all data will be aggregated for the purposes of trend analysis.  No client or other participant of the study will ever receive your company-specific data and there is no way that any company can “reverse-engineer” the analysis to derive your data input. Your responses will not be used for any other purpose within IDC.
Q:  Ok I completed the survey…so… when do I get the free research?
A: Heh, I knew you’d ask this one. You can expect the deliverables to begin coming out around late March. For clients who are attending our March Board Meeting we will have in depth discussion around the barometer findings (want to know more about these board meetings? Reach out to the CMO Advisory Group team or send me an email).

If you are interested in participating: contact Sam Melnick at smelnick (at) idc (dot) com

#CMOFact: IDC 2013 Marketing Investment Planner

With 2012 coming to an end, for many businesses planning for 2013 will bleed into the New Year. Marketers are no exception; in anticipation of the planning cycle each year, the CMO Advisory Service publishes our annual Marketing Planner in August/September, developing the B2B tech industry’s leading marketing (and sales) benchmarking study. To anyone familiar with the industry, you are probably used to hearing that Marketing is transforming. What is so exciting about our Marketing Planner is we are able to provide specific guidance on changes, challenges, and successes within the industry through incredibly accurate industry data and qualitative information provided by you, the senior marketers. Marketers in turn are able to use this information to successfully plan for the upcoming year.
I’ve taken the liberty of pulling out some key facts below from our report that are particularly interesting or useful. Feel free to share them and remember to follow me on twitteror check out the CMOFact hashtag – we will continue to share some marketing goodness there.

#CMOFact Number 1:  In 2012 the average large B2B Marketing organization is in receipt of a 1.7% budget increase. This is 50% LESS than the 2011 rate.

#CMOFact Number 2:  The Marketing Budget Ratio for B2B tech companies has declined each year from 2009 through 2012. Marketing Investment is not keeping up with revenue growth.

#CMOFact Number 3: B2B Tech CMOs are spending approximately 30% of their budget on digital marketing programs. This is up from 12% in 2009. 

#CMOFact Number 4: For Large Tech Companies, only those in Software (vs Services & Hardware) are receiving increased budgets!

#CMOFact Number 5: The marketing automation train is picking up speed, and fast. Jump on now or prepare to be left behind. This is a new category in our survey and is already at 3.1% of programs budget and 1.6% of staff allocations.

These are just 5 nuggets from the 2013 Marketing Planner. The full version includes a complete overview of the current state of the B2B Tech Marketing it includes; program spend, staffing breakdowns, up and coming technology, and forward looking advice. For your own copy, reach out to Wendy Pemberton at wpemberton@idc.comor find it here

Data Analytics wins 2012 US Presidential Election

Data analytics was the big winner in the 2012 US Presidential race. In fact, 11:17 PM (US ET) November 6th was the moment data analytics went mainstream. This was when Ohio was officially projected to go to Obama. It was the ultimate validation for Nate Silver and his data analytics approach to election forecasting. To much fanfare he accurately predicted the results of the election in all 50 states without doing any of his own polling. He used sophisticated analytic models based on data from as many third party polls he could find. To this he added the secret sauce of data analytics – a keen understanding of how different types of data from different sources relate to one another in context.

His FiveThirtyEight blog drove as much as 20% of the web traffic to the New York Times website – the 6th most visited US news site on the net – leading up to the election. As a result, data analytics is officially mainstream. Any business leader at any level that does not immediately embrace its power is putting his or her career and company in jeopardy.
Data analytics works. It does not produce miracles, but it does produce results that far outperform human judgment on its own. The Obama campaign employed an army of retail data analytics wonks to beat the Romney campaign in every battleground state. They did it by applying analytic techniques proven in the supermarket industry:
  • Standardizing records: Unifying the customer (voter) database
  • Widening perspective: Combining diverse data types: demographics; buying/voting history; response by media; donation/activity by trigger (celebrity dinner), model (contest) and method (mobile); group/church  membership, social networking activity (Reddit), etc.
  • Judicious targeting: Carefully identifying the potential for influencing voters that could influence the election. Not worth targeting easily influenced voters if they don’t live in a county that can help swing a state. Not worth targeting difficult to influence voters even if they live in a critical county. This is essential for achieving impact and ROI.
  • Media mix modeling: which media channels have the greatest impact on which kinds of voters?
  • Action oriented outreach: Understanding the specifics of why and how certain people act and designing multiple outreach experiments (progressive offers, channel mix, social references, etc.) based on that.
  • Openness to innovation: data driven models may point to approaches that are counter intuitive for some decision makers. They can seem risky and mysterious. They will not be right all the time. Controlled risk is part of the evolutionary process to effectiveness. Without a tolerance for experimentation however, you will not develop a data driven culture, you will in fact kill it.

Marketers in the world’s largest high tech companies are finally acquiring the enterprise data services needed to apply data analytics to long cycle B2B customer creation processes. We are already seeing signs of how significant the impact of these new approaches to marketing and sales can be:

  • $200M EU lift based on a sophisticated solutions recommendation engine
  • 45% more subscription revenue with no increase in a multi-million dollar marketing budget
  • Tens of millions of dollars in revenue uplift from simple web behavioral changes

Embracing data driven decision making is now a matter of survival. You simply cannot win against competitors that have faster, deeper market insight. They will beat you in every stage of the customer creation process. Your marketing will be months behind, your inside sales reps will be calling customers already committed to alternatives, your field sales reps will miss opportunity after opportunity to get more revenue from existing customers. Your funnel will collapse, your pipeline will dry up, your renewable revenue will shrink, and at that point it will be hard to recover. Hyperbole, you say? In the great A/B test of who uses data analytics and who does not, stay in the B group at your peril.
IDC EAG group has done extensive research on the key ingredients needed to create the enterprise data services that are a prerequisite for data driven customer creation and has ongoing research into how to create a data driven culture. To find out more please contact Gerry Murray – gmurray(at)idc(dot)com. 

Six Key Table Stakes for B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment

The IDC CMO and Sales advisory services held their most recent client leadership meeting in Santa Clara on June 5th. One of the key topics of the day was sales enablement. The ensuing dialog between the sales and marketing execs in the room was as impassioned as it was ineffective. Many of the usual themes were expressed (in the nicest possible way): “marketing leads are crap”, “sales doesn’t follow up”, etc. etc.

Whenever I hear this conversation it always sounds like the two sides are talking past one another. Neither really understands how to express their frustration in a way that has any meaning to the other. What’s missing are some basic table stakes:

Sales 

1. Train marketing on sales process. It is impossible to effectively contribute to, much less consistently improve, an unknown process. No marketing team should be expected to deliver effective collateral or leads to a sales organization until they have been fully trained on sales process and methodology. In a large organization with multiple business units and product lines there will be many sales processes and the marketing teams charged with supported them must receive the same depth and cadence of training that the sales reps get.

Marketing 

2. Treat the sales force like a market segment. There are great variations in the needs of different kinds of reps in your organization and you must understand them on a rep by rep basis no less urgently than you do for your external marketing targets. The needs of an enterprise rep with two accounts are radically different than an SMB rep with 400 accounts or a territory where they may not know all the potential customers. Don’t throw 10,000 leads a month at both of them. You get the idea. Nurture your sales reps like any other targets and tune the metrics accordingly.

3. Market sales collateral like solutions. Marketing tends to market its wares to the sales force like products whose benefits are self evident. Assets are often “published” or “distributed” generically with tags to help reps “find” them. Imagine what would happen to the funnel if that was the extent of external marketing efforts! Sales support assets should be marketed through targeted nurture campaigns. Once you get going on #2 above, you can start to address the needs of each rep and market your leads, collateral and other assets as solutions to the right sales problem at the right time!

4. Take an account centric approach to lead generation. Marketing is generally great at understanding the world in terms of segments and contacts. These are fundamental concepts for planning, budgeting, and executing marketing activity. However, sales reps think of the world in terms of accounts. Marketing needs to make leads more relevant to reps by delivering them in an account context.

Sales and Marketing

5. Define customer creation as an enterprise process. This is the most effective way to change the corporate culture and gain executive support for addressing the many alignment issues across all customer facing functions in the enterprise. The analogy here is supply chain. Before it was defined as an enterprise process the people, processes, technology, data, and budgets within it were managed on a purely departmental basis. Defining it as an enterprise process made it possible to optimize and continually improve the supply chain based on overall business performance. The customer creation process – from prospecting to closing to upselling – needs to be owned and measured in the same way.

6. Implement customer data as an enterprise service. Once customer creation is established as an enterprise process, it requires an enterprise approach to customer data management in order for the optimization and continuous improvement to take place based on core business metrics and not on a collection of disassociated departmental KPIs.

These six table stakes should be treated as urgent action items for all high tech Sales Operations and Marketing Operations personnel. Some organizations are doing some of these things, but no one has implemented all of them as organizational norms.

Big Data Comes to Marketing?

What’s the most commonly heard word in marketing organizations today? It is “Transformation.”

Dramatic transformational change is sweeping through marketing functions in most industries. And the main “change agent” is the customer. Or what we at the IDC Executive Advisory like to call the “New Buyer” . Our customers and prospects today are crafting their own routes to learning about products and services. They are motivated and skilled at educating themselves and learning from peers. They travel through numerous digital pathways in their exploration process. And by the time they come to a meeting with the vendor sales person, they are smart and savvy. They are empowered.

Marketers need to ask and answer these questions: Where did our Buyers come from? What do they know already? And above all: How do we  add new value to where they are in the process of discovery about our product or service? The New Buyer dynamic creates volumes of new data and customer intelligence analysis opportunities for vendors.

In turn, Those in the marketing job function must be able to bring better data into any planning meeting, including discussions on budgets and investments; programs and campaigns; or performance measurement. Hard data needs to complement the “softer side,” or the “art,” of marketing.

The tools for accessing and mining data, and turning data into insights, are now plentiful for today’s marketers. And, The marketing job function might be the last of all an organization’s major functions to become automated.

The marketing winners of tomorrow will be masters of rapid data management — able to turn data into intelligence, intelligence into analysis, and analysis into decision support and execution. Achieving this will be the first step in the rudiments of sales-to-marketing cost control.

For the CMO, there are three critical, inter-departmental, data-driven intersections that need to be created and nurtured. Marketing is now too important to run in isolation, so here are the three key intersections:

1. The Marketing and CIO intersection. New IDC research shows that the investment in marketing automation technologies in 2012 will be at three to four times the rate of 2011 levels. Automation technology development is going to sweep through sales and marketing over the next 10 years.

2. The Marketing and Sales (CSO, or Chief Sales Officer)  intersection. Today, the CMO needs to be able to connect sales technologies, such as CRM, with new marketing automation technologies.

3. The Marketing and CFO intersection. The CMO needs to deliver a return on investment in measurable terms in order to have meaningful budgeting and planning discussions with the CFO. Measuring impact of push programs in terms of conversion to leads, opportunities, and revenue is the game today.

I like to say that there will be more change in Marketing in the next five years, than we have seen in the past 25 years combined. These Marketing data and IT automation issues will be at the forefront for the next generation of successful CMOs.

CMO’s report universal lack of preparedness for key challenges

IBM released the findings of their Global CMO study yesterday and one of the primary conclusions is that CMOs feel unprepared to address key challenges. The most surprising thing is how consistent the feeling is across regions and vertical industries. CMOs generally face the same issues and report very similar levels of “unpreparedness” in the face of them. Top challenges include: data explosion, social media, growth of channel and device choices, and shifting consumer demographics, among others.
The findings are based on 1,734 structured in-person interviews with CMOs in large organizations conducted between February and June of 2011.Regional and vertical representation was reasonably well balanced. The sheer scale of the effort and the willingness of so many CMOs to participate indicate a role under siege.
In our research, IDC has learned that marketing is undergoing fundamental and painful transformations on several levels: new and expanding datasets, new channels and forms of communication, new tools and infrastructure requirements, new dynamic in customer acquisition, new pressure to prove business impact, new skills required for success. It is a multi-dimensional change that has many marketing leaders struggling to keep up.
The IBM study provides a strong basis for CMOs to educate their C-level peers on the challenges they face. However, by design, it does not offer practical models for addressing the issues. IDC has strong evidence that the customer data record is the fundamental design principle around which all customer facing activities and systems should be (re-)built. The customer record is increasingly the source for strategic insight, tactical planning, and performance metrics. Any marketer working in an organization without an enterprise customer creation process (with the requisite standards for customer records, data governance, and the infrastructure to support it) is set up for failure.
Unfortunately hardly any companies today manage customer creation as an enterprise process. We believe that this is the root of the universal “unpreparedness” revealed in the IBM Global CMO study. Having a practical model for implementing an enterprise customer creation process is the first step toward mastering all the key challenges CMOs and their marketing organizations are facing today.
ENTERPRISE customer creation is not something that only happens in marketing and/or sales. It encompasses every customer touch point over the lifetime of the relationship. It goes beyond the jurisdiction of any departmental leader and therefore must have C-level (CEO) endorsement and active support. It is the demand side equivalent of supply chain automation and we all know how WalMart conquered the world by mastering that side of the economic coin. On the demand side, the challenge is finding and forming relationships with prospective customers much earlier using channels and resources not traditionally thought of as marketing (or sales.) In addition the relationship needs to be tracked consistently from marketing to sales to finance, provisioning/fulfillment, support, etc – i.e. the customer data record must be uniformly defined and managed across departments. All the information associated with a customer record must be available to everyone involved in the process. It is a massive undertaking on par with the supply chain automation effort, but the reward is being months ahead of your competitors in terms of customer contact and relationship building – a key competitive advantage that will be very hard to displace.

The Four Stages of Data Driven Marketing

Who is your customer? It is a deceptively complex question that a surprising number of B2B companies cannot answer. The difficulty stems from several causes:
  • Inconsistent definitions for customer attributes (account name, industry, segment, organizational hierarchy, contact name/email, etc.)
  • Fragmentation of the data across multiple databases and applications
  • Departmental perspectives on customer relationships
  • Lack of an enterprise customer data management approach
The impact of all this is a severe slow down in decision making and an inability to optimize critical processes in customer facing functions, most poignantly in marketing and sales. The solution is to define customer creation as an enterprise process – not something that happens only in marketing and/or sales – and the implementation of data standards and governance to support it. This enables marketing to be data driven, but there are four distinct stages of data driven marketing and not all of them lead to success:
1. Stage One – Fast Failure. This stage is characterized by response-based decision making. Marketing decisions are based on response data from marketing systems – web hits, landing page registrations, and myriads of other campaign performance data. All of this is important, but leaves marketing unable to tie any of its activities to key business metrics such as revenue performance.
2. Stage Two – Slow Failure. This stage is introduces conversion-based decision making. Marketing and sales systems are integrated along with customer data definitions and structures. This provides a quantum leap forward for both sales and marketing. However, marketing is still one degree of separation from linking its activities to business performance. Sales pipeline is a good proxy but it is no substitute for the critical business data that comes from the next two stages.
3. Stage Three – Measurable Success. At this stage marketing finally is able to measure contribution to revenue. However, it is not enough to rely on initial contract data alone. Account A that closed for $1 million and account B that also closed for $1 million may be very different in terms of margin and lifetime value. Account A may have cost $250,000 to sell, install, and support where account B cost $500,000. If that’s the end of the data set, then of course marketing should bring on more account A profiles.
4. Stage Four – Market Mastery. At this stage marketing understands the long term profitability of customer relationships. If over time account A buys nothing more and account B upgrades and expands its investment by millions of dollars at improving margins, marketing can refine its activities accordingly and begin to drive overall business performance.
The key lesson is that marketing is greatly influenced by the depth of data available to it. At each stage in IDC’s data driven marketing model, new data can completely change all facets of marketing activity from strategic targeting and messaging to tactical campaign investment and roll out plans. As a result, it is crucial for companies to get to Stage Three as quickly as possible and remain ahead of competitors on the journey to Stage Four.

The Marketing Operations Role: Where To, From Here?

Looking Back, Briefly:

Marketing Operations has been the fastest growing job role in tech marketing over the past few years. When IDC first started its surveys of marketing spend and staffing back in 2003, Marketing Operations wasn’t even on the job roster at most organizations. Today, the “MO” role represents about 6.5% of the total staff and it is the fourth largest job “category” for a large marketing department. So, what happened? The rise of this role was the response of the CMO to the general condemnation that marketing was not acting like a business. The Marketing area was perceived as offering up no accounting, and no accountability… but also offering no end to the pleas for more budget. And so Marketing Operations as the “staff accountant” role started to turn up at the larger and more complex marketing organizations. As the MO role really took off, the general job description would include four areas: budgeting and planning; measurement and reporting; technology deployment (marketing automation technology); and process improvement.

Looking at Today:

Of the four job areas described above, the most problematic, right now, is technology. There is a vast new set of IT tools available for marketing organizations: Marketing Resource Management; Content Management; Performance measurement; Analytics; Social Media Platforms and Monitoring; and the list goes on. The problem is that in general, marketing organizations do not have the staff skill sets to effectively evaluate, deploy and use these tools. In our 2011 Role Survey of Marketing Operations professionals, respondents said that their number one problem today is the sorry state of the “Automation Infrastructure” and that their number one goal is “Finding the People that know how to fix this”. There is an equally large and underlying issue “below” the technology level, and this is the database and data management issue. With so much marketing automation now in place, the first output that this new technology is producing is crystal-clear visibility to the fact that: “Wow, we have REALLY POOR customer records”. And so a very major issue for the Marketing Operations role is finding the database-savvy personnel who can help with this challenge.

Looking Forward:

Given how fast the MO role has grown and given the significant challenges of today, I want to offer three areas of “Essential Guidance” for CMO’s and their MO “lieutenants”. The first step is to re-visit the job description. In a series of executive interviews that I recently completed, many MO professionals complained that “Our Marketing Operations area has become the dumping-ground for all the unwanted marketing tasks that no one else wants to do!”. Now, whose fault is that?

Job number one, therefore, is for the CMO with the MO team to define and then re-articulate its role to other parts of marketing; so that it does NOT become the dumping-ground! Job number two is to then conduct an “Activity assessment” of what the MO personnel are actually doing, as held against that job description This may all sound like a junior league management exercise but my strong suspicion is that because the role has grown SO fast over the past four years that it MAY be the case that role clarity and scope are due for a closer look. This assessment should also include the organizational placement of the MO role. Why are so many of our MO staff at corporate headquarters? Why are these staff not within our product lines and in the field? These are questions worth asking. Job number three is then to ask “Where do we go from here?” regarding the role and staffing. I believe that the “future” of MO role effectiveness and impact is not in more staff as measured by headcount. In fact, the MO role as a percentage of staff is likely reaching an upper limit at this point. My hunch is that it may “cap out” at perhaps 8 to 10% of staff. However, the MO roles of tomorrow will be more strategic than they are today. The nature of the role will evolve. While today’s MO staff are largely involved with individual execution (within the job description mentioned previously), the MO role of the future will be more about educating and infusing other parts of the marketing organization with a marketing process-excellence mentality, skills, and tools. In this way, the MO staff will become a more “leveraged” function. This leverage will include improving the influence and impact of MO across the entire marketing organization, not just at the corporate marketing location(s). As you further deploy the MO role, think about not hiring more Marketing Operations staff….think about driving the existing “smarts” and influence of MO down and through your entire marketing organization.

— Rich Vancil

The Product Marketing Reporting Structure Dilemma

Where should product marketing report into within a technology organization? Marketing? Business Units? Product Management? The CEO? IDC’s 2008 Tech Marketing Benchmarks study indicated that product marketing reports directly into marketing at approximately 45% of technology companies. This is by no means a clear trend to be replicated by every company. In fact, based upon years of research at IDC in this area as well as my own experience in the product marketing function, I continue to believe that the correct answer for product marketing’s reporting structure is. . . . it depends. Yes, this may seem like a cop-out initially, but there really is some support for my opinion here.

The first question to consider is what is your definition of product marketing? IDC’s official definition is as follows:

  • Marketing professionals accountable for developing and executing the strategy to increase market share for specific products. Activities include market sizing and opportunity assessment, proposing future product development, developing market requirements documents (MRDs), crafting key product messages, conducting competitive analyses, and determining pricing, packaging and program offerings. (this category does not include product management, industry marketing or solution marketing) – refer to IDC’s Sales and Marketing Taxonomy

Regardless of your reporting structure, your first step needs to be the definition of this role within the organization including how this role will interact with other parts of the company. (i.e., roles, responsibilities, performance measurement strategy) Many companies have overlapping responsibilities between product management and product marketing depending upon the business unit or individuals’ skill-sets. Combining these two roles is also quite common.

So back to the reporting structure dilemma. Not only have I seen product marketing report into different parts of an organization, but I’ve seen it oscillate within the same company between marketing and the business units every couple of years. Regardless of what has happened historically in your company, product marketing should report into the part of the organization where the greatest misalignment exists today as well as where the greatest opportunities for improvement exist. (assuming these areas of misalignment cannot be fixed more easily from a process or tactics perspective)

For example, Citrix, a company recently cited in the Leadership Quadrant of IDC’s 2009 Marketing Performance Matrix, shifted product marketing’s reporting structure from the CMO (Wes Wasson) to the business units in early 2009. Wes described it as follows: “we occasionally shift the hard line reporting of field and product groups, depending upon where we most need to optimize”. Another factor to consider is who owns the budget. Wes and his team decided to keep the budget within his control. The result is a strong sense of balance between control of staff and related processes (by the business units) and control of the budget (by the CMO/marketing).

What is your product marketing reporting structure and who owns your product marketing budget? Please share your thoughts below or feel free to contact me directly at mgerard@idc.com.