How To Build a Marketing Organization from B. Bonin Bough

B. Bonin Bough, Vice President of Global Media and Consumer Engagement, Mondelēz International

My perspective on what makes a great marketing organization is really a result of the way my career has evolved over the last fifteen or so years. I cut my teeth in marketing through digital and social media, first on the agency side, then in-house at PepsiCo, before arriving at Mondelēz International (formerly Kraft Foods) in early 2012 to fill a much broader role as VP of global media and consumer engagement, with responsibility for all forms of media globally, including leading and developing the partnerships, internal capabilities, and strategies across all forms of consumer connections, including digital, TV, print, and outdoors. Through these different lenses, I’ve seen firsthand that social media, along with the meteoric rise of mobile and big data, has been an explosive force. It’s changed the way we create, disperse, and consume content, and because of that, it has fundamentally changed the way we work as marketers. With more channels to push out content to than ever before, in addition to the traditional channels like TV and print, many marketing organizations have made progress on social, but haven’t found the right solution to make their organizations experts about integrated media, across the board.

So, if I were going to build a marketing organization from scratch today, I’d aim not only to make it social by design, but also more integrated by design, by focusing on three big ideas:

1)    Social Listening

There are certainly basic guidelines that social media experts adhere to, but often what’s working and what’s not working can change at the drop of a hat. Because of that, social listening is becoming critical to understanding the inner workings of consumers: The access to real-time data on everyone from the everyday impulse shopper to the savvy price-comparing consumer is unprecedented, and I think many marketers are still not tapping into the full potential of the wealth of information out there. In beginning a new marketing organization, I’d look to hire marketers who aren’t satisfied with current measurement tools, who want to innovate social listening to be faster, more nuanced, and even beyond that: natural teachers who are always looking to share learnings across the organization. It’s a hiring strategy not foreign to newer online media, like BuzzFeed and Mashable; these publications were built on a bevy of talent and knowledge in social listening from the start, and have thrived accordingly.

2)    Acting Like a Media Organization

The best media organizations today have mastered how to create content for all audiences across all mediums, fueled by the urgency to stay relevant. Successful publications (and the editors/executives that run them) are some of the most nimble and talented content creators, and they are constantly reinventing themselves, whether you look at the rise of digital subscription models or the way they’ve mastered breaking news via Twitter. Also, as natural storytellers, these publications are not bent on pushing a message, but crafting a narrative that readers can participate in, and marketers should be, and for the most part are, moving towards this credo, but they need to move faster.

Early on, I’d look to the editors who have been in the trenches of these publications over the past few years and heed their advice in building the organization from the ground up. By the nature of their craft, many of the individuals in media are experts across different mediums—like TV, online video, web and social—as often they’re not as segmented as marketing organizations, bringing me to my next point….

3)    Leaving Mediums out of Titles

Lastly, and perhaps most crucially, I’d leave “social media” and other mediums out of titles—whether those were titles of individuals, divisions, or departments. Everyone would be well-rounded media practitioners and have a solid basis of knowledge in mediums like social—or, would be on the road to getting there and expected to get there. No one person or team would be named the “social” or “digital” strategy go-to, and therefore, no one person or team would be in charge of social or digital or any other type of strategy. While this may sound like semantics, it often doesn’t play out that way, especially in large organizations. Distributing responsibilities makes everyone accountable, which fundamentally changes culture from a focus on mastery to a focus on curiosity and constant learning. If we’ve learned anything from the rise of new media as marketers, it’s that maintaining unfaltering curiosity is just as important as honing other, more traditional marketing skills.

By starting fresh, without divisions or individuals titled by medium, the organization would be able to move more towards an integrated approach where everyone was expected and empowered to have a voice across mediums, work more like a media organization, and keep their eyes and ears on consumer conversations.

In his current role at Mondelēz International, B. Bonin Bough is responsible for all forms of media, including leading and developing the partnerships, internal capabilities, and strategies across all forms of consumer connections, including digital, TV, print, and outdoors. He was recognized as one of business’ hottest rising stars in Fortune’s 2011 “40 Under 40” list, as well as Fast Company’s “2011 100 Most Creative People in Business,” and EBONY’s “Power 100” list. Bough’s achievements in the world of interactive marketing have won him numerous awards, including a Webby, Stevie, Golden Pencil, Sabre, Big Apple, Com Arts, and SXSW Viewer’s Choice. He is co-author of the 2010 book Perspectives on Social Media Marketing, co-chair of the Digital Collective, and a member of the board of the Social Media Advisory Council. 

An excerpt of this essay also appears on in a 14-week series where SMAC members definitively answer the question “If you were going to build a marketing organization from scratch today, how would you do it?” You can view the series at: “The Value of Content to Commerce – Part 1”. The complete versions of these essays will be rolled out on the SmacForward blog in coming weeks and also appear in the epilogue of SMAC member Avi Savar’s new book Content to Commerce: Engaging Consumers Across Paid, Owned and Earned Channels (published by Wiley: May 2013), which Forbes called “brilliant”.


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One Response to How To Build a Marketing Organization from B. Bonin Bough

  1. Kevin Lynch says:

    Point # 3 is key. How would it appear if only certain individuals in an organization were responsible for ‘spelling’, ‘grammar or ‘punctuation. It would make no sense. Same with social, some may be more proficient than others but everyone should understand the concept and have a basic level of competence.

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