The Secret to Good Organizational Marketing

There’s a secret to good organizational marketing—a secret that’s rather simple, but rarely implemented. It’s true for one-person marketing departments, international marketing teams, third-party marketing agencies, and marketing consultants. It’s likely true for you, too.

In a previous article I talked about the concept of good marketing; that “good” can mean both effective and virtuous. Here’s the quick scribble I used to illustrate the concept.

a 2X2 grid of good marketing

In this piece, I want to riff on the idea of being effective (moving up the 2X2) and share what I think is the key to effective marketing on an organizational level.

Anyone can develop individual competency in our field. Fire up your browser and you’ll find a ton of free info on how to conduct every sort of marketing tactic under the sun. Best time to post a video, how to write a marketing plan, where to send press releases, sizes for social media assets, blog post formulas—the internet has got ya, fam.

That’s how people these days become good. But, how does an organization become effective at marketing?

Aligned Vikings eat dinner

It’s tempting to think that by hiring competent marketers, the best of the best, the result would be a company that’s good at marketing. Certainly, it’s great to have a high-powered team, but that’s no guarantee the company will be effective. To move an organization into competence, into effective marketing, you need alignment more than competency.

It’s a little counterintuitive. You’d think a marketing department of twenty tactical experts doing their thing would result in a successful company. But, unless they’re working on the same goals, the company isn’t going to benefit much.

A simple metaphor is a Viking ship with the top oarsmen in the clan. Unless everyone is rowing in unison and in the same direction, Björn will not be home for dinner. Ever. Conversely, a ship with mediocre oarsmen aligned in timing and direction will get the job done just fine.

So, how do we get an organization aligned?

Just one word

Like Mr. McGuire in The Graduate, I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening?

Plastics? No.


You may be thinking this is obvious. But, I’ll challenge you. Take some of the projects and tasks you’re busy working on and ask yourself, what strategy is this connected to?

I’m willing to bet that in some instances you don’t really know what the strategy is. (And, no, “make money” is not a strategy. It’s a goal.) In other instances, you had to work a bit to connect the dots.

For as obvious as strategy is, and for as much as we like to talk about it in the business world, I just don’t see it much in the wild. A lot of companies don’t have one, or if they do, it’s sitting on a shelf in a binder collecting dust.

Referring to the strategy isn’t critical for a lot of what goes on day-to-day. We all know selling product, retaining customers, and remaining competitive are important activities that don’t require justification. But, to create an organization that sits at the top of the incompetent/competence axis, you have to get aligned.

The Strategy Stack

Ideally, your organization’s strategy stack will look something like this.

an illustration of Mike Gastin's strategy stack for marketing

At the top are the goals and objectives of your company (or client’s company). These are critical, as they will have a ripple effect throughout the organization. A company that’s hoping to be acquired soon will conduct very different marketing than a company that’s trying to unseat a rival to capture the number one position in the market.

Underneath the goals and objectives should be a corporate strategic plan. This should identify how the company is going to accomplish its goals: acquire companies with new technology, increase manufacturing efficiencies to be more competitive, enter new markets—you get the picture.

Underneath the corporate strategy should be a strategic marketing plan. It should identify what marketing is going to do to deliver on each of the company’s strategies. If one corporate strategy is to increase prices to add more margin, marketing might develop a strategy that involves increasing brand equity in order to justify higher prices to the market.

Lastly, you should have a tactical marketing plan. This should map out the what, how, who, when, and where of each marketing strategy. This is about execution and checklists.

Team work makes the dream work

Ultimately, there should be a clear line from the daily activities of your social media coordinator to the decisions that were made in the C-Suite. Everyone involved should understand how their work contributes to the goals and objectives of the company.

This may sound like simple stuff, and in theory it is. Implementing this approach in an organization is certainly hard work but it is the soundest way to transform an organization into an effective marketing machine.