Head of Marketing...and Product?

Marketers have been forced to leverage data...but that’s actually what every part of the organization should be doing.
Eric Dodds

At Yield we’re working with a client where the primary person we report to has the title of “Head of Marketing and Product.” 

For those of us who have spent a few decades in the marketing space, that title feels a little bit weird. If some of us are truly honest, it almost feels like a vanity title. Either way, on first blush, it’s easy to imagine that role as one can’t actually be done by one person. 

However we feel about the title, though, the reality is that it represents a key characteristic that is increasingly becoming a requirement for high-performing companies. 

The way things were (and, in many cases, still are)

It’s worth stopping to ask why those of us with a marketing background struggle a bit with the “Head of Marketing and Product” moniker. There are many reasons, but here are a few of the big ones: 

  • Marketing and product have traditionally been completely separate worlds, even within the context of the same organization. 
  • It’s easy to mistake the skillsets for marketing and product as fundamentally different 
  • It’s still the rule (not the exception) for marketing and product teams to be held accountable in completely separate ways

Even though our new digital context has completely changed the way the consumer buys, the reality is that most organizations are still structured to operate in silos, where individual teams optimize for an individual step of the customer journey (marketing “gets leads,” then sales “closes deals,” then customer success “activates”). 

A whole new world…

What our client, and many of today’s digital leaders, recognize is that operating “the old way” is becoming increasingly costly. At best it’s a severe limiter on growth and agility and at worst it puts companies out of business because they can’t compete. 

The revelation that creates unique titles like “Head of Product and Marketing” is that, fundamentally, each of those functions should operate the same: their goal is to drive revenue by leveraging data and insights to craft an incredible customer experience. 

At Yield Group, we describe this dynamic by saying: 

Marketing is eating sales…and product is joining the meal. 

In other words, marketers have been forced to leverage data, testing, automation and consumer insights to thrive in an increasingly complex digital marketplace…but that’s actually what every part of the organization should be doing at every point on the customer journey, from first touch through retention. 

…the customer’s world

Companies who understand this principle are primarily focused on individual questions about either acquisition or retention. Those questions are very important, but they tend to put a team’s optimization effort at the center, as opposed to the actual customer experience. 

High performance companies seek to understand the entire customer experience by asking questions like, “how does acquisition impact retention over time?” 

Achieving a comprehensive perspective (and processes) with the customer at the center is challenging work that requires organizational change. It’s not easy, but will become increasingly necessary for businesses who want to be digital leaders in their space. 

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