5 steps to marketing maturity

Businesses can often be overwhelmed by the thought of the work (and investment) required to reach a gold standard in marketing. In reality, it can be attained in a series of manageable steps.

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By: Neil Edwards on 7th September 2021, 4 minute read

Elephants, they say (or five tonne blocks of tofu if you prefer), are best digested one mouthful at a time.

And the same can be said for your marketing strategy.

Rather than wilt at the prospect of implementing everything that is needed to achieve a fully functioning, fully optimised marketing operation in one go, take a step back and treat it as a journey.

The Replace Base

Case Study: The Replace Base

An online retailer of mobile device repairs and replacement parts

In this post, we'll show you how.

Deep breath, here comes the busy slide

Let's define "marketing maturity" as having achieved an optimal level of capability in all the key areas of marketing performance. For our purposes, there are eight distinct areas of capability:

  • Strategy & Planning
  • Metrics & Measurement
  • Customer insights
  • Proposition
  • Journeys & Interaction
  • Reach and Engagement
  • Tools & Technology
  • Culture

The road to maturity can be thought of in five distinct phases, starting with "initiated" and ending with "optimised". Within these phases are the eight capabilities that need building, each with their own milestones relative to the level of maturity you are striving for.

The matrix below, which we love, sets out in great detail the landmarks that need to be passed each step of the way.

(Best viewed in landscape on a mobile)

steps to marketing maturity

Your goal is to pass progressively through each phase - and definitely not to try to go from Initiated to Optimised in one giant leap!

Where are you now?

When we start working with a client, we will normally undertake a marketing audit to help us identify what the starting point is and where the first and most important interventions need to be made.

You can run this exercise for yourself by posing the questions asked in the graphic and then mapping where you are.

First, identify the phase that your business is working towards now. Next, identify the areas that need to be your focus so that all the capabilities in that phase can be marked as complete.

There, in an instant, you have your strategic implementation plan for the next period.

Rounding the athlete

In practice, you will likely find that progress is being made with some of the capabilities faster than others. Your strategy and planning, for example, might be at a level of "defined", whereas your journeys and interactions could still be in the "initiated" stage and lagging behind.

This is quite common as human nature is to do more of the things that we are good at and less of the things that we are not. Don't, however, allow the capabilities to get too far out of kilter.

Like an athlete with an unbalanced training programme, a huge investment of resources in strategy and planning will achieve very little if there isn't the implementation infrastructure to support it. Equally "all the gear and no idea", will leave you with nothing more than a bunch of hefty monthly subscriptions.

Circle the areas that are lagging behind and prioritise them for bringing up to standard before investing more in your proficiencies.

Pinpoint the help you need

Some of the objectives in the matrix might still seem quite intimidating. "Cross channel content distribution" might be easily stated as a goal, but achieving it in practice can be difficult.

This is where specialist support comes into the picture. Rather than recruit generalist marketers or agencies, you are now in a position to prepare a very specific brief and find the best providers to help you. You will get much more from your team and your suppliers in this way.

Step 1 - Complete our marketing health check

If you are interested in an initial assessment of your capabilities, we have developed an interactive marketing heath check to give you some immediate feedback on where the opportunities for improvement lie.

Try it out for size. We'll be delighted to hear from you if you want to discuss the findings in more detail.

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Neil Edwards


Neil Edwards

Neil is a Chartered Marketer and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing with many years' experience in marketing, brand and communications.

CEO / The Marketing Eye

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