At this year’s SiriusDecisions EMEA summit we hosted a lunch and learn panel focusing on ‘The Many Faces of Centralized Marketing’.


Darian Sims, B2B Marketing Excellence Director, Canon EMEA

Kevin Clarke, Marketing Director, UK Business, British Gas

Greg Dorban, Chief Strategy Officer, Ledger Bennett

Kevin Smith, B2B Marketing Consultant

The session brought this diverse group of experienced professionals together to discuss the role of centralized marketing in the modern B2B ecosystem and featured highly valuable contributions from Canon and British Gas. Covering everything from what is centralization, to the ways in which it can be applied and the lessons that have been learnt along the way, it was a fantastic opportunity to share real-life experiences with the world.

Here are our top 5 insights from the session:

Lay the foundation for centralization, then iterate towards your goal

When it comes to building a centralized marketing function, it’s important to take baby steps before going all-in. Senior stakeholder and business buy-in are essential to achieving long-term success, but making so many fundamental changes all at once is risky and impractical. Break down bigger ambitions into chunks and work towards progressing in each, learning along the way and building stakeholder credibility. This approach was unanimously agreed amongst the panel – THIS is the way you win.

Don’t overlook the performance gains centralization can offer

Most people get into centralization looking for productivity gains, but this leads many to overlook the value of the performance opportunities on offer as well. Improving agility around execution, homing in on high performance areas, enhancing flexibility around budget allocation and faster change management can all be achieved with a centralized approach to marketing. These gains really are too valuable to miss.

Agility is critical for meaningful progress

With so many pieces in play across the centralized model, maintaining agility is key to making steady progress. Ensure unnecessarily large builds or an excess of stakeholders isn’t holding back key decision makers when it matters most. In many cases, early projects are scaled to more than 20 countries/languages, so you want to make sure there’s flexibility at the start to adapt the foundation before going BIG (Kevin Smith).

Simplify adoption where possible

Achieving internal buy-in is critical to the short and long-term success of a centralized marketing function and so simplifying adoption should be a top priority (Darian Sims and Kevin Smith). If transition is difficult, friction will grow and impede progress. Stakeholders who have a significant impact on the outcome of centralization should be assisted and given the resources to make a smooth transition.

Target easier little wins and build from there

To get the project off the ground, choose initial pilots and prototypes that are easy to deliver within the business (Greg Dorban). The criteria for success on Day 1 should not be totally commercially focused, instead, it needs to be used as an opportunity to demonstrate that automation works and show that the model can increase productivity at scale. This helps incentivize and drive adoption as these lead indicators allude to the commercial impacts that could be seen on results over time. On Day 1, it makes total sense that the central unit will not be as strong as Day 90. It’s important to remember, momentum around results is critical to successful implementation on a larger scale. Don’t go for markets where the business is weak or lacks the knowledge/history to achieve success. Align with business strengths and prioritize accordingly. (Darian Sims)

For more great content from SiriusDecisions’ EMEA summit, check out the results of our live centralized marketing session research.