In response to economic headwinds around the globe, many global B2B companies are exploring various options to optimize their costs and stay competitive. Centralizing operations is one such effort seen across industries.

Forrester has outlined four states of alignment between corporate and regional marketing functions. It is not about determining what is right or wrong but rather about helping organizations understand their current position and eventually helping them to find a good path in reaching balanced relationships and a better-orchestrated operating model.

Frictions Exist With The Central Marketing Function

In my recent conversations with B2B marketing leaders in the APAC region, I found they often struggle aligning with their corporate or centralized counterparts. These alignment issues exist in planning, reporting, and measurement initiatives. Some of the frequently shared concerns include the following:

  • Top-down initiatives are not seen as beneficial to the region.
  • There’s a perceived lack of control of or impact on globally defined methodologies.
  • There’s a lack of resources in the region to accomplish a global initiative.
  • Globally developed assets don’t meet the region’s specific needs.

When a function is fully or partially centralized, resources are often redistributed, leaving the regional team lean and potentially less equipped to operate effectively. This can lead regional leaders to feel as though they have lost the ability to perform at the previous scale and to exercise their autonomy.

Capitalize On Regional Strengths

There are some natural assets that regional teams possess that allow them to influence corporate decisions:

  • Local customer understanding. The regional team possesses valuable knowledge of local business operations, enabling them to understand the unique needs of customers in the area. They have direct access to other local function teams, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of the local customer landscape. As subject matter experts in these areas, the regional team can provide valuable input and feedback to their corporate partners, fostering strong relationships and facilitating faster processes tailored to local customer needs.
  • Ability to interpret local data. Despite standardized global data architectures and reporting, regional businesses require insights that incorporate local dimensions. Leveraging their deep understanding of the local market, the regional team can interpret and analyze local data to generate impactful insights. These insights enable informed decision-making, mobilize corporate resources, and drive regional expansion and growth.
  • Meaningful connections and engagement. With their geographical advantage, regional teams excel at developing and managing quality connections and engagement with local business stakeholders. By building strong relationships, the regional team becomes a trusted partner to both local business stakeholders and corporate partners. They are viewed as reliable partners, think tanks, and extended forces, fostering collaboration and mutual trust among all parties involved.

Harmonize Centralization And Regional Leadership

Centralization, while primarily aimed at optimizing resources and standardizing processes, also fosters collaborative partnerships with regional teams. As you strive for continual optimization, the following key strategies can help enhance alignment and maximize effectiveness within this structure:

  • Hold a growth mindset to positively align with your corporate/centralized team. It is wise to think of your centralized/global function as your supporting resource rather than a conflicting resource. You should also align these thoughts with your regional CMO/marketing executives on how you intend to position and allocate resources for your team. By seeking their full sponsorship and support, you can ensure a harmonious collaboration and maximize the effectiveness of your efforts.
  • Build engagement and collaboration in your revenue ecosystem. Gain trust with your business partners and stakeholders. Regional leaders drive revenue ecosystems by connecting regional and global resources. Leverage your revenue operations teams to align goals, priorities, measurements, processes, and resources. Establish high collaboration and commitment across the ecosystem to ensure successful business results.
  • Develop strong insights-driven analytical muscles. It is always more effective to tell your story with data and insights. Having a strategic mindset and strong analytical abilities to extract insights from data will enable you to develop a perspective that is relevant to your business. This, in turn, will help you substantiate your case and effectively engage your extended resources within the organization.
  • Enhance process management abilities to orchestrate local planning and budgeting. Bringing together the often-siloed planning efforts across marketing, sales, and customer engagement functions can be a challenge in large and complicated organizations, but it’s key to ensuring that the marketing priorities are achieved.

Centralizing certain marketing functions and implementing shared services under corporate teams offers several advantages, including optimized resource utilization, adherence to standards, and improved governance. It is important, however, to establish a balance and synergy between the central and regional entities to avoid increased communication costs and reduced efficiency. Regional teams should focus on developing strong inner-circle abilities to support their foundations. If you are interested in building and developing these capabilities to become a powerful influence within your organization, feel free to reach out to me or connect through an inquiry.