Where business and technology create a winning customer experience.

Most of my clients are large companies, so governance is a crucial issue. Without proper governance, you can try to change your marketing practices across your organization, but it won’t take. Some people will go along with the changes, some won’t, and you need to do better than that.

Governance in marketing requires two things:

  • Lawmaking
  • Policing

In most companies, they use their management structure to perform both. They let their executives order people around and they expect the execs to punish recalcitrant groups. The problem is that it doesn’t work.

Oh, sure, if you want to get a new standard in place, such as requiring all web pages to have unique titles (to improve your SEO), you can ask your executive to order everyone to do it. Perhaps you can get the exec’s attention long enough for him to sign off on a new edict, but what do you do when someone refuses to go along? How do you police it?

You can’t go back to the exec every couple of weeks to say, “Johnny isn’t playing fair.” There is only so much time that any executive will give you. Many groups within an organization won’t comply with the new standard because they were not involved in creating it.

So, in reaction, other companies try to win the hearts and minds of the rank and file by creating the new standard with a democratic approach to lawmaking–usually they seek complete consensus within the organization for any new rule. While this sounds noble, the truth is that the larger the organization, the less likely you can get everyone to agree. So, you might find that the democratic approach means that you can’t pass the standards that improve your marketing.

What can you do instead?

Maybe you should be looking for a model that mimics how governance works in similar situations. If you think about a situation where no one can order everyone around and you can’t get everyone to agree, maybe you would consider the United Nations. The Security Council needs unanimous consent, but of just a few countries.

You can do the same thing within your company. Every company can identify several business units that are more important than the rest–they might have higher revenue, or higher profits. Those units comprise your Security Council. If one of them vetoes your new standard, it is dead. But when you get them to agree, everyone must go along.

How do you deal with policing?

Technology is the quick answer. Choose standards that can be automatically checked by software. Get your executive to agree to hold business units responsible for the results of that checking. Tying bonuses to performance against the standards is especially effective.

If you’re still flailing about with the wrong approach to marketing governance, what are you waiting for?

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Mike Moran

About Mike Moran

Mike Moran has a unique blend of marketing and technology skills that he applies to raise return on investment for large marketing programs. Mike is a former IBM Distinguished Engineer and a senior strategist at Converseon, Revealed Context, and SoloSegment. Mike is the author of three books on digital marketing, an instructor at Rutgers Business School and a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. He is also a Certified Speaking Professional.

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Are you confused and frustrated by the rapid pace of change in digital marketing? Do you find yourself struggling to get ahead...