The term Center of Excellence (COE) seems like it only applies to large organizations, but in our experience with hyper growth companies, a Marketing COE makes sense a lot earlier than many expect. Gartner describes a COE as a “physical or virtual center of knowledge concentrating existing expertise and resources in a discipline or capability to attain and sustain world-class performance and value.” What size company wouldn’t benefit from this?
Read on to explore the four main ways organizations leverage COEs to drive marketing success.
Benefit #1: Continued Education
The pace of change in marketing, specifically in MarTech, is a well-known challenge. The COE creates consistency in continued education for marketing teams and the overall organization by tracking and updating best practices. These best practices may be as company-specific as the segmentation of certain industry-specific events through very broad channel ROI, as reported by major analyst firms.
Benefit #2 Company Culture Alignment
I’ve yet to see a company advocate for a culture of status quo. Instead, most organizations (at least those worth working for) drive toward innovation and incremental improvements. That is squarely the purpose of a COE. It drives marketers to perform actions with a measurable consistency, and adjust for what works and does not. Leveraging a marketing COE will dramatically help enhance stakeholder alignment, from top leadership down through to the most tactical person on any team.
Benefit #3: Role Definition
Depending on the size of your organization, the interactions of individual team members with your COE will likely shift. But even in the definition of how individual contributors use and influence the COE, it holds value. For example, within robust marketing organizations, a marketing COE keeps large, often geographically separated teams on track, on brand, coordinated, and making progress. Without it, an enterprise marketing department can get hung up by legal approvals and other red tape that can’t be circumvented or expedited.
Within smaller organizations, COEs can provide the answer for how to make the most of your team and resources. By leveraging the templates and framework inherent in the COE, your team won’t see as many mistakes or corners being cut. COEs help your employees perform more efficiently and optimize their outcomes.
Benefit #4: Making Money by Saving Time
Let’s be frank, benefits 1-3 would be hard to take into a boardroom and turn into a nice, ROI-driven business case. But benefit #4 is markedly different, because it’s all about the dollars and cents. A main function of the marketing COE is simply efficiency.
The 80/20 Rule for Your Center of Excellence
Don’t confuse COEs with templates. Yes, frameworks and templates are a part of the COE library, but they’re not the main purpose. Each COE in your organization should include the necessary elements for that given practice.
For example, a marketing campaign COE would ensure you can launch your campaigns at a targeted, yet practical, level. If you set your goal to register a certain segment for a dinner you’re hosting, the COE provides the tools, such as the landing page which converts best for these small, targeted dinners. It’s 80% completed, leaving 20% for the field marketer to customize. Or, perhaps the messaging that converts best for that group involves a personal phone call. The COE would then provide a script and the technology to record the dial and result. It gives your team a trusted roadmap for what will be most effective, based on experience.
A COE’s framework, processes, and templates are just that, the foundation. It helps those in the field avoid making a lot of unnecessary experiments and mistakes, while still giving them room to personalize each effort to a specific audience and objective. The goal here is to remove ‘random acts of marketing.’
The bottom line? Creating a Center of Excellence is more than just ticking a box. Unlike implementing a new technology or redesigning your website, creating a COE for marketing is a game-changing action. It’s the kind of initiative that takes a truly unique individual to lead and likely a lot of convincing across the organization. What’s more, once it’s created it will also require diligence in its updating and enforcement. But it’s worth it: The most impactful COEs just happen to be associated with some of the best marketers in the world. If you’re looking to build the business case for a COE in your org, keep following along, as we dig into some of the most impactful COEs we’ve seen and share how they were created.