Marketing Governance Best Practices

Jesse Hopps

Marketing has the unenviable reputation as the line of business that is not held accountable for achieving specific, measurable, bottom-line results. Finding a bean counter that does not view Marketing as a cost center - producing intangible results - is a daunting task.

One of the primary reasons for this is the notable absence of a Marketing Governance function in most organizations. This lack of structure has led to decreased confidence among senior level peers, reduced budgets, and a feeling around the boardroom table that marketing should not be involved in “strategic” decisions. Establishing a culture for Marketing Performance Management (MPM) requires that sound infrastructure is in place for evaluating decisions and results.

What is Marketing Governance?

Marketing Governance is a structure of processes, procedures, and policies used to optimize the management of Marketing functions.

What are the benefits?

  • Aligned business & marketing strategy
  • Goals & Objectives map to quantifiable metrics
  • Increased accountability & support from senior management
  • Ability to execute integrated multi-channel campaigns
  • Established decision-making & prioritization processes
  • Ability to measure marketing performance

Use our Marketing and Business Alignment tool to benchmark communication, competency-value measurement, governance, partnership, systems & technology and human resources.

The Capability Maturity Model

In order to improve an organization’s marketing function it is important to understand the maturity of its current processes and procedures. The Capability Maturity Model (CMM), originally designed by Carnegie Mellon University as a method for improving Software Engineering Process Management, can be used to assess the maturity of other business processes including Marketing Governance.

CMM (see diagram below) helps organizations understand and deploy Best Practices related to process management. Since governance is a business process, it can be plugged into the CMM model to provide a benchmarking tool for companies wishing to systematically improve organizational maturity in this area.


Another management tool that can be used to develop and refine Marketing Governance is the COBIT standard. Developed by the IT Governance Institute to help IT organizations address Sarbanes-Oxley regulations, COBIT is a Best Practice framework for process management that can be easily adapted for Marketing Governance.

Use the summarized & adapted COBIT framework below to understand the Marketing Governance process management maturity levels.

For more information on COBIT, please consult:

  • Level 0 – Non-Existent: No senior management oversight of Marketing activities.
  • Level 1 – Initial/Ad Hoc: Regular governance practices such as review meetings, creation of performance reports, and investigation into problems take place, but rely mostly on the initiative of the Marketing management team.
  • Level 2 – Repeatable/Intuitive: Senior management is involved only when there are major problems or successes. The measurement of Marketing performance is typically limited to technical measures and only within the Marketing function.
  • Level 3 – Defined Process: Specific procedures for management covering key governance activities have been developed. These include regular target-setting, reviews of performance, and project planning and funding for any necessary Marketing improvements.
  • Level 4 – Managed & Measurable: Target-setting has developed to a fairly sophisticated stage with relationships between outcome goals in business terms and Marketing process improvement measures now well understood.
  • Level 5 – Optimized: The Marketing governance practices have developed into a sophisticated approach using effective and efficient techniques. There is true transparency of Marketing activities, and the board feels in control of the Marketing strategy.

Establishing a Governance Benchmark

Developing Marketing Governance Review the Capability Maturity Model in conjunction with the summarized COBIT Standard to identify what level of maturity best describes your current state of Marketing Governance.

Once you understand your current state, look at what processes and procedures are required to move your organization to the next maturity level. These points can be used as goals & objectives that guide your steering committee.

Follow this step-by-step action plan to adopt Marketing Governance:

  1. Understand the value of Marketing Governance
  2. Determine your organization’s current maturity level
  3. Establish sponsorship from the senior management team
  4. Build cross-functional steering committee of key executives
  5. Hold kick-off meeting & schedule quarterly conferences
  6. Set goals & objectives for improving Marketing Governance
  7. Determine how marketing results will be measured (ROI etc)
  8. Assign action items to the appropriate attendees
  9. Manage allocated responsibilities on a proactive basis
  10. Conduct next meeting to track achievement of objectives

Maintaining Best Practice Governance

Marketing professionals at mid-sized enterprises need to be disciplined and keep their colleagues committed to governance. Holding quarterly meetings to measure results on Marketing initiatives is a great way to engage C-level executives and improve the profile of the marketing function in the organization.

Prepare an agenda for each meeting, distribute it to attendees prior to the meeting and chair and facilitate the discussion. Periodic e-mail updates on progress keeps the steering committee in-the-loop with regard to their agreed priorities.

Demonstrate leadership by introducing standardized Corporate performance measurement systems like the Balanced Scorecard, which is much more effective than ROI to illustrate how Marketing adds value, and ensures Customer-Centricity is at the top of every executive’s mind.

Governance is critical for improving marketing performance and increasing the strategic role of the marketing function to the organization. It establishes a framework for aligned decision-making, and results-driven action. Do not delay adopting these Best Practices in your Marketing department.