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Marketing Capabilities Notes for September 23, 2021

Sometimes kids ask each other, “If you could have any superpower, which one would you choose?” In 2020, PhD-level marketing research scientists asked a similar question about marketing organizations:

Marketing chiefs are charged with delivering business growth. Given the five choices that follow, what action would you take?

  1. Adopt a matrix structure so that staff can work on the projects for which they are most qualified.
  2. Outsource key functions so that expert outsiders can complete tasks, thus leveraging the best expertise from an external ecosystem.
  3. Increase marketing’s scope of responsibilities so that core marketing functions sit with your best marketers.
  4. Centralize decision-making so that decisions are made quickly and with a coherent vision.
  5. Build the right set of marketing capabilities i.e., create “product-market fit” between your marketing department’s skills and what works in the market.

Researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 125 senior marketing executives, cross-referenced with public financial results and corroborated with 650 responses to MarCaps’ Marketing Capability Benchmark survey.[1,2] The result was clear: winning marketing organizations evolve their marketing capabilities to match those demanded by the market. Here are three historical examples:

  • 2001 – E-commerce PC channels like are gaining in popularity, but some computer shoppers still want to trial new computers before purchase. Apple opens its first brick-and-mortar Apple Stores in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia and Glendale, California.
  • 2017 – Music fans are shifting steadily from CDs to streaming but still want to attend concerts. Musician Ed Sheeran and team reportedly mine streaming data to target successful shows to smaller cities like Des Moines, Iowa while expanding to multiple dates in others like Duluth, Georgia and Columbus, Ohio. By August 2019, Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide) Tour becomes the highest grossing in music history.
  • 2018 – Video gamers are shifting from physical to downloaded games, but electronics users continue to demand protection, repair, and installation for their devices. Best Buy cancels its Gamers Club Unlocked membership program for physical games, freeing up resources for a new membership program called Total Tech Support.

What one or two marketing capabilities would best grow your business? What one or two marketing capabilities no longer serve you? Successful marketers can answer both questions honestly and accurately. Get started with this free online assessment.


[1] Rodríguez-Vilá, O., Bharadwaj, S., Morgan, N. A., & Mitra, S. (2020, 11). Is Your Marketing Organization Ready for What’s Next?. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review:

[2] MarCaps. (2021, 9). Marketing Capability Benchmark. Retrieved from MarCaps:



Marketing Capabilities Institute

September 23, 2021

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