Shared services in marketing organizations: A model for improving effectiveness and efficiency

Published: August 2, 2011

Executive summary

The marketing function at many large companies is under intense pressure to drive growth and to meet the challenges of the digital revolution. While CMOs are trying to use all levers at their disposal to push their businesses forward in today’s competitive markets, many are missing an important opportunity to drive efficiency and effectiveness through a more advanced approach to shared services — specifically, marketing shared services. Leading companies are capturing scale from transactional activities and developing advantaged capabilities by taking a coordinated, consistent, and collaborative approach to their marketing service delivery model.

Those opting for shared services have had to overcome resistance from the business units, geographic divisions, and product lines that have traditionally owned marketing. Services that are transactional and repetitive can be either outsourced or kept within the company but consolidated and based in low-cost parts of the world. Specialized knowledge that is scalable and essential to the development of new capabilities can be gathered into centers of expertise. The benefits have outweighed the challenges for companies that have made this shift. Efficiency gains of 15 to 20 percent have been achieved by some. These changes can also free up resources to concentrate on capability building and other higher-value projects, greatly increasing the potential for top-line revenue growth.

Enough companies have taken on the challenges for others to benefit from their experience. Newcomers as well as companies that are looking to expand their current shared practices can avoid pitfalls and adopt best practices by following a four-step program: Develop a baseline understanding of the existing marketing service delivery model; define a menu of services and assess their scalability; design the future model and make the economic case for its adoption; and devise a holistic but practical transition plan.

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Shared services in marketing organizations: A model for improving effectiveness and efficiency

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