First of all, what is an RPM COE?
As defined by The Pedowitz Group, which partnered with us on this journey, “An RPM COE is a centralized group of shared marketing services, infrastructure and process that enables organizations to bring programs to market by leveraging key corporate assets and best practices. It is a hybrid structure between centralization and decentralization, leaning toward a pragmatic 'center of excellence' approach.”
Why are we doing this?
Well, for a long time, we have done marketing at a business unit level. While each business unit was doing great things, we weren't aligned around talent, spend, key performance indicators, service level agreements or technology. In the business unit structure, we were challenged to obtain true efficiencies and economies of scale, and deliver an extraordinary customer experience.
An RPM COE will provide us with efficiencies that we could not accomplish as separate business units. In order to achieve our objectives, we will create a common infrastructure that allows for adoption of revenue performance management practices, and yields improvements to marketing efficiency, effectiveness and ROI.
An RPM COE will consist of an RPM leader who oversees demand gen and marketing operations functions for the overall business. Each team will be designed to best support the business needs. At a high level, the demand-gen team will include the following functions: program management, content strategy, campaign services and best practices. The marketing ops team will include data specialists, process specialists and reporting and business-unit liaisons.
How did we come to this decision?
We formed a small cross-functional team with an executive sponsor, and conducted an in-depth marketing audit of spend, talent and results. The marketing audit was an eye-opener. In our case, we found that we had dozens of vendors being used across the different groups and were, in some cases, duplicating efforts—e.g., buying the same list more than once, not coordinating efforts on certain types of work, etc.
In addition, we discovered that we didn't have a consistent documented lead process, funnel conversion metrics or really a common vernacular at all.
At the core of our decision was a desire to drive integrated planning and execution of marketing spend and demand generation campaigns across business units through a centralized RPM center of excellence.
Developing an RPM COE is a journey—not to use a corny phrase, but it really is an evolution over time. Centralizing key marketing functions like demand gen and marketing ops can bring an organization incredible efficiency but it won't happen overnight, and it will take some time to get the right rhythm.
In terms of lessons learned or advice, we are in the early stages of this journey, so I'll need more time to assess what worked and what didn't. I will, however, share with you that the change management component is a huge piece. If you choose to go this route, do not underestimate how important change management is to your success.
I'd recommend that you communicate to the organization why you are doing this, along with the benefits that the employees and their customers will realize. But also be transparent, and know that there will be challenges ahead and some bumps along the road.
I expect that our move towards an RPM COE will be challenging, but I know that it is the right thing to do for our customers, employees and brand.