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Home » What is Marketing Maturity? And how to measure yours

What is Marketing Maturity? And how to measure yours

by | Sep 13, 2022

By Brianna Martin, Director of Brand Marketing, Mighty Citizen

“It isn’t just creation and promotion; it is a process as well.
I think that’s what a lot of people forget.”
Neil Patel

Neil’s right. Marketing is not just a collection of projects, promotions, successes and failures. It’s also a process and one that gets easily forgotten.

Every organization that aims to serve its constituents should regularly take stock of its marketing process; its blind spots and opportunities for public awareness. That is, every organization should ask two key questions:

  1. What could we be doing better?
  2. What is holding us back from that?

This is where marketing maturity comes in.

But First, Marketing vs. Communications

My agency, Mighty Citizen, works exclusively with mission-driven organizations—i.e., associations, government agencies, nonprofits, and colleges and universities.

Many of these groups prefer the term “communications” to “marketing.” We get that. But in this article, we use “marketing” as a stand-in for all efforts to communicate, at scale, with the world.

 

What is Marketing Maturity?

Marketing maturity is the degree to which an organization is achieving its goals via the entire suite of marketing channels, strategies, and technologies at its disposal.

At its essence, marketing maturity is the journey to your organization’s “best self.” When you are at the highest level of marketing maturity:

  • Every dollar you spend on marketing produces more than a dollar in return.
  • Your constituents admire and trust your brand. 
  • You get the most out of technology. It’s a tool for success, not frustration. Your software and tools and website hum along smoothly and seamlessly for both internal and external audiences.
  • Your entire staff knows precisely what you do, whom you serve, and how to communicate your value to the world.

But marketing and communications are a never-ending journey. These disciplines—so critical to your organization’s purpose and goals—are always changing, which means you must change too.

Marketing Maturity is an Ecosystem

Organizations often mistake a collection of marketing tactics for a marketing strategy. They believe that if they “do social media” and “send out a newsletter” and “get some good coverage in a newspaper or magazine,” they’re executing a strategy. They aren’t. Instead, they’re shooting darts in the dark and hoping to occasionally land a bullseye. A marketing strategy is much bigger than these one-off tactics.

Marketing is an ecosystem. Within the ecosystem exists everything an organization does to communicate itself to the world. All of these “everythings” influence—and are influenced by—one another. No tactic is an island.

As a result, how “mature” an organization’s marketing is requires exploring how mature each of its efforts are. For example, if you invest heavily in digital analytics but shortchange your website design, your overall maturity is going to take a hit. In this sense, marketing maturity demands striking a balance between the many ways in which you promote yourself.

Marketing Maturity is Not…

It’s natural to assume that if your marketing efforts are performing well, your marketing is mature.

But not so fast.

First, marketing maturity is not a measurement of how much marketing you do. If you throw every conceivable marketing channel at the wall to see what sticks—from emails to social to display ads to search ads to direct mail to website personalization, etc.—you aren’t necessarily mature. (In fact, a wide-but-shallow marketing strategy is often a sign of a lack of maturity.)

You can’t simply count the number of campaigns, channels, and KPIs you create to measure the sophistication of your marketing. Instead, you must dig into the nuance of your communications, one by one.

Second, marketing maturity isn’t merely digital. It goes deeper than that. In fact, at its most fundamental, how mature your marketing is depends on people and knowledge. Long before you craft a gorgeous landing page, reinvent your contact forms, or launch a highly targeted advertising campaign, you must first concern yourself with analog elements.

Do you have a keen understanding of your audiences (and how do you know)? Do you have a solid set of organizational goals to guide your marketing strategy (and how do you know)? Have you hired the right people to make it all sing (and how do you know)? Again, think of your communications as components of a larger, interdependent ecosystem.

Third, measuring your organization’s maturity is an ongoing endeavor. It’s not a “one and done” task because your organization, your constituents, and your resources are always in flux. We recommend doing a formal evaluation of your marketing efforts at least once per year—often in the weeks leading up to your planning for the upcoming year—in order to keep your focus on strategy in addition to tactics. Even if you determine that your marketing is returning incredible dividends, i.e., your maturity is high, there is still work to be done. (More on that below.)

Why Marketing Maturity Matters

While determining your marketing maturity isn’t a simple arithmetic problem, you can quantify how mature your marketing is.

Organizations who rate low on a “marketing maturity scale” are not taking advantage of the tools at their disposal. They’re either getting by without dedicated staff, making do with a limited budget, or ignoring levers of influence. As a result, they’re missing out on major opportunities for impact. As a result of that, they may find themselves unable to defend to their leadership why larger investments in marketing are worth it.

Meanwhile, mature marketing teams who know that they’re mature enjoy many advantages. First, they can easily make the case for more investment of financial and human capital; they’re producing results, after all. Second, with the fundamentals in place, they can grow more creative and bold in their marketing efforts. This is when marketing gets really fun. And most importantly, maturity means, ultimately, that marketing is doing what it intends to do: helping the organization fulfill its mission.

So How Do You Gauge Your Organization’s Marketing Maturity?

That’s a big question and we’re here to answer it! We’ve launched The Mighty GPS™, a self-assessment tool to measure your marketing maturity in under 10 minutes. The Mighty GPS gives your organization an overall marketing maturity score, a score for each of six marketing categories—Research, Branding, Marketing, UX/Content, Technology, and Team Dynamics—and a list of next steps to take to increase your marketing effectiveness. With the results of The Mighty GPS in hand, you’ll be well on your way to greater marketing success.

About the author: Brianna Martin

As Director of Brand Marketing, Brianna oversees how Mighty Citizen’s brain trust is presented to the world. She develops opportunities to deliver our expertise at conferences, seminars, and client events. Brianna is also responsible for marrying data, content, and communication strategies to introduce Mighty Citizen to the mission-driven organizations we aim to serve.  She can be reached at bmartin@mightycitizen.com.

About the Author

Capitol Communicator and sponsors host various guest postings on relevant topics of interest to the advertising, marketing, public relations and media professional community that Capitol Communicator serves.

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