Marketing is moving fast and it’s difficult to keep up. This is intensified by the fact that you don’t just need to keep up—you need to stay ahead.
This is where the marketing maturity curve comes in. It’s been reimagined many ways. As an actual bell curve, as a chart, as a circle. The underlying concept is the same, though. There are various stages of maturity when it comes to the implementation of marketing tactics. While there are different stages that might make more sense for certain organizations and their audiences, typically the more advanced you are the more impact you can make in your business. Accordingly, the more impact you make, the more resources your marketing team will be provided with. It’s a virtuous cycle that will accelerate you up the marketing maturity curve.
The question of how to get started can be difficult for those who don’t have the resources—budget, talent, time, etc.—to start even attempting to advance their tactics. Getting started moving up the maturity curve doesn’t always have to mean more resources, though. If you’re truly at the bottom of the curve, moving upwards is a matter of simply changing perspective.
In fact, the bottom of the maturity curve does not always mean that you’re ineffective or inexperienced. More often than not, your place on the bottom of the marketing maturity curve typically indicates a siloed team, a lack of a holistic strategy, and not following through with full funnel reporting that proves your worth.
None of these conditions are ones that will allow for successful marketing, though. As tactics converge and consumers expect cohesive experiences, the need to work across functions is real when it comes to growth of the entire company.
Where are Most Marketers Now?
Research indicates that most marketers are somewhere in the middle. For example, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 B2B Content Marketing Research, a whopping 67% of B2B marketers feel that they are between the stages of ‘first step’, ‘young’ and ‘adolescent’ while only 32% considered themselves ‘mature’ or ‘sophisticated’. The same trend shows with B2C marketers—37% called themselves ‘mature’ or ‘sophisticated while 63% are classified as ‘first step’, ‘young’, and ‘adolescent’.
The reasons behind these dismal numbers are many. So many marketers are overworked and overwhelmed, trying constantly to stay up to date on changes. And yet, many are unable. The pace of technology advancements certainly contributes to this. The maturity curve is about more than just marketing technology adoption, though. While consumers have the ability to immediately pivot to whichever platform or behavior best suits then, the time and energy for an organization—even a small one—to do the same is substantial. Which is why identifying where you are on the maturity curve and, thus, knowing where to focus on moving up the curve is essential.
If you do, you’ll find yourself spending less time on things that don’t matter and less energy on trying to stay ahead of every advancement.
Discovering Your Marketing Focus
Most organizations have a solid foundational of digital tactics. While this is better than nothing, truly moving up the maturity curve requires more fundamental adjustments. The lower stages of marketing maturity are characterized by siloed teams, lack of long-term thinking, lack of integration with business goals, and lack of alignment with sales. In fact, regardless of how advanced your tactics are, if you’re missing these elements, you’re still low on the maturity curve.
For real, sustainable movement up the maturity curve you need to start from square one and ensure you have strategic, holistic foresight into everything you do as a marketing team. In fact, if you look at Content Marketing Institute’s definition of the maturity curve, you’ll see the same priorities reflected:
- Sophisticated: Providing accurate measurement to the business, scaling across the organization
- Mature: Finding success, yet challenged with integration across the organization
- Adolescent: Have developed a business case, seeing early success, becoming more sophisticated with measurement and scaling
- Young: Growing pains, challenged with creating a cohesive strategy and a measurement plan
- First Steps: Doing some aspects of content but have not yet begun to make content marketing a process
Notice that you only see content mentioned in the ‘first steps’ stage. Instead, the focus in the higher levels is on strategy and overall integration with business goals.
Climbing the Marketing Maturity Curve
So, let’s cut to the chase, what exactly do you have to do to keep advancing your maturity? According to Wilson Raj, the Global Customer Intelligence Director at SAS, these are the essentials you need to pay attention to:
- Marketing operations for customer-centered strategies.
- Gaining insights from data and analytics.
- Optimizing omnichannel interactions.
- Understanding – and even predicting – the customer’s digital experience.
In other words, your marketing must be transformational. This can even come down to rethinking your operational model in order to break down walls and allow for holistic strategy. It may sound extreme, but it’s where marketing is going. Sticking to old models means, inevitably, sticking to old methods.
Of course, change comes from the top. Setting the tone—and the vision—for the digital strategy will keep everyone involved from staying preoccupied with specific channel performance or vanity metrics. Given the strong role of technology in digital success, this vision will also require a closeness with IT that will enhance communications between IT and marketing teams. Finally, the successful, modern marketing team will need to expand their skills outside of simply marketing activities. This includes everything from familiarity with technology to customer relations to strategy setting.
Keeping Growing, But Don’t Lose Sign of What’s Important
Marketing will always have the same main goals—to reach customers and to accomplish business success. A fantastic customer experience should remain at the center of everything marketers do. If you build a marketing culture that both embraces change and keeps the customer first, climbing the marketing maturity curve will be inevitable.
Did you like this post? Let us know why (or why not) in the comments. In the meantime, check out our blog Punch Above Your Weight: Why Digital Favors David, Not Goliath to discover how identifying your unfair advantage is key to operating above capacity.