Insights

10 | 26 | 2023

Why Is Centralization Important for Marketing?

A deep dive into the benefits of marketing centralization and how to best leverage agency partnerships

Written by

Caitlin McNeely

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Centralization has been top of mind for many marketing leaders.

Since 2020, they have begun to evolve their marketing teams toward a centralized organizational structure. In fact, per a 2022 Gartner study, 60% of marketing organizations have centralized some or all of their functions in the quest for operational efficiency. So, its tangible benefits and results mean it’s not a fading trend. But deciding how to centralize is complex and it takes trial and error to find the perfect balance.

The concept, application and popularity of centralized marketing structures have shifted over time. Digital disruptions and changing labor markets over the last decade have amplified the need to centralize. With increased enterprise costs,
growth expectations and squeezed budgets, many CMOs feel pressure to reexamine the functions and responsibilities of their marketing teams, especially in today’s digitally driven world.

First, let’s define the three levels of centralization: centralized, decentralized and hybrid.

In a fully centralized marketing structure, all marketing decisions, functions and resources are controlled by a single, central point within the organization. The fully centralized marketing team is usually located at the corporate or headquarters level. Processes, procedures and resources are standardized throughout the organization.

A decentralized marketing structure distributes the structure, functions and decision-making across various business units, regions or divisions. Each business unit has a degree of autonomy when managing marketing efforts. The level of standardization varies between units as local or regional teams develop unique campaigns.

Hybrid marketing structures blend elements of both centralized and decentralized approaches based on the organization’s unique needs. Usually, specific functions like branding can be centralized, while other functions like product marketing may be decentralized.

How to begin centralizing your organization

Before building and implementing a strategy, it’s important to understand that centralization is not a silver bullet that will solve all problems. When thinking about centralization, a quote from A.D. Chandler, a professor of business history at Harvard Business School and Johns Hopkins University, comes to mind: “Structure should follow strategy.” That means that successful centralization requires analysis as the first step to creating the structure and consistency for how the strategy is applied. It also requires several steps to ensure a smooth transition.

Here are a few to consider:

01

Assess Current Status

To authentically develop a centralized organization, AvreaFoster recommends auditing your current marketing structure and processes. These deep insights pinpoint specifics in marketing structure, processes and resources that need to be centralized. Once your current structure has been audited, we recommend an internal communications strategy built upon a clear understanding of goals, challenges and opportunities. For example, the resources of graphic designers might be limited due to the social media team’s influx of ad-hoc requests. As a solution, the social media team could streamline the design process through the implementation of branded templates.

02

Establish Clear Goals

Once pain points in the process have been assessed and benchmarked, you can leverage these insights to achieve your operational efficiency goals. Your strategy should outline the scope of the centralization, the roles and responsibilities of various teams and individuals, and an implementation timeline. The goals can be as simple as reducing costs, or as specific as building a robust digital marketing SEO strategy for a new service. 

03

Select the Right Vendor

Once your goals and responsibilities are outlined, you can identify the opportunities for outsourced specialization based on your centralized talent structure. This step requires analysis to determine the feasibility of creating new roles, modifying existing roles, redistributing responsibilities or selecting a vendor that specializes in addressing your marketing pain points. Full-service agencies not only have access to specialized talent, they also have a full marketing technology stack that can be leveraged for furthering centralization and automation. When choosing a vendor, it is important to choose one that understands marketing centralization.

Choosing the right agency is essential to your centralization strategy.

Partnering with a fully integrated brand and marketing agency is an important component of a centralization strategy. With the right partner in place, you can optimize operational efficiency, accelerate digital transformation and achieve a number of goals — all amplifying the inherent benefits of centralization.

Here are a few benefits of a centralization strategy:

01

Consistent Messaging and Continuity of Strategy

By working with a fully integrated marketing partner, the complete marketing journey — brand, website, digital marketing strategy, implementation and corporate communications — will be cohesive. Aligning all components of the marketing continuum delivers efficiencies and effectiveness that are more successful than a decentralized model. When you work with multiple marketing departments and agency partners, it requires much more effort to ensure all aspects of marketing are aligned. With a fully integrated agency, consistent messaging and strategy are streamlined and more efficient.

02

Cost Savings

Collaborating with a fully integrated agency reduces the need to work with multiple vendors. Agency partners become subject-matter experts, which eliminates meeting redundancy. By working with one vendor, you do not waste time getting multiple vendors trained and up to speed on complex aspects of your business. You reduce overhead costs by leveraging agency expertise when needed, rather than maintaining in-house specialists. And with a single agency, you can better predict and consolidate your digital needs — leading to better deals through bulk purchases.

03

Enhanced Specialization

The best fully integrated agencies offer end-to-end solutions, from strategy development to implementation and monitoring. Specialized teams or individuals are able to focus exclusively on tasks, often resulting in exceptional efficiency. Team specialization is imperative when collaborating with vendors so that organizations can efficiently utilize the service and stay ahead of the curve. As a fully integrated agency, AvreaFoster invests in advanced technologies and software solutions that allow our specialists to be efficient. Due to our repository of knowledge, best practices and tools, we have a proven track record of executing projects efficiently and consistently.

04

Focus on Core Competencies

In the same Gartner study from 2022, CMOs cited the most difficult skill to develop within their teams was strategic thinking. By offloading specialized functions — such as SEO, website development and digital marketing — to a full-service agency, your team is able to focus on your core business and deliver products and services that align with your mission and customers’ needs.

05

Transparency of Results

When partnering with a fully integrated agency, you will appreciate the transparent accountability offered with clear service agreements and performance metrics. Agencies are motivated to nurture client relationships and ensure every need is met within the scope of the service agreement.

06

Efficient Resource Allocation

Instead of recruiting, onboarding and training specialized marketing staff, you can avoid this time-consuming and costly process by relying on a ready-made team of experts from a fully integrated agency. In addition to catalyzing digital transformation, centralization enhances operational efficiency and fosters client-agency collaboration.

Start on your path to centralization with AvreaFoster.

When you partner with a fully integrated agency like AvreaFoster, you unlock our expertise and insights and enhance speed to market. Our specialists have the deep knowledge and skills of a complete B2B agency partner through branding, digital marketing, creative, web design and internal communications. As marketing and advertising specialists, our team has insight into the latest industry trends, market research and best practices.

In a rapidly changing marketplace, you must be proactive to outpace your competition. For example, when a healthcare client approached AvreaFoster wanting to centralize under a new brand, each department quickly familiarized itself with the complex business, uncovered insights and delivered results that aligned sales and marketing while increasing qualified sales leads and deals closed. Our collaboration with Imagine360 fueled its centralization efforts, while our specialists moved the needle for sales ops and enablement.

If your organization wants to explore centralized marketing, our team has the experience and insights to help. Connect with the AvreaFoster team today to increase your organization’s operational efficiency.

1 https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2022-03-21-gartner-marketing-survey-reveals-60-percent-of-cmos-have-centralized-some-or-all-of-their-function-in-the-pursuit-of-operational-efficiency

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