The Marketing Maturity Model

A Journey to Best-in-Class Performance


  • Good marketing organizations are efficient but not always effective. They perform at the level of their peers, so they deliver neither an advantage nor disadvantage. They are customer-focused but most often reactive. Most have advanced from cost center to profit center and from cost minimalization to investment maximization. They are mostly successful in adoption of strategy, customer focus, expanded services and technology automation. Most importantly, they are not stagnated and periodically (although not continuously) implement performance improvements.
  • Great marketing organizations deliver a performance advantage, but not true differentiation. They are profit centers and adept at converting their budgets into company profits. They know how to make investments so that each performance improvement is built on the prior, contributes to the next and shows a cumulative financial impact. They are customer-centric and have shifted from doing things right to doing the right things. They have a clear-eyed recognition that if marketing processes don't create value that customers care about or are willing to pay for, they are not worth doing. Their processes are refined and optimized, but they never stop improving.
  • The Best-in-Class marketing organizations deliver differentiation and sustainable competitive advantages. They align with company priorities, are in a constant state of improvement and regularly drive product and process innovation. They are recognized for their customer intelligence, customer advocacy, brand development and continuously increasing revenue contribution. They have achieved Best-in-Class performance as the result of a planned evolution.
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The Marketing Maturity Model for Transformational Evolution

A proliferation of new channels, devices and consumer technologies on top of increasingly informed and empowered customers and a competitive marketplace can make setting marketing priorities a challenging and fluid exercise.

That's why transformation is a journey best pursued with a roadmap built on a progressively phased marketing maturity model.

The model is a grouping of capabilities and competencies which are ranked in ascending maturity and organized in an evolutionary framework.

The Johnny Grow Marketing Maturity Model is a data-driven, asset-powered roadmap that brings increasing and sustained improvements to lead acquisitions, lead conversions, marketing sourced revenue contribution, brand impact and marketing ROI.

It's born from data derived in Marketing Transformation research. This data segments performance results into three archetypes of Best-in-Class (top 15 percent), Medians (middle 50 percent) and Laggards (lower 35 percent). The lessons extracted from the Best-in-Class create evidence-based best practices that provide performance benchmarks and prescriptive guidance.

It's a holistic framework to vision, guide and drive progress toward measurable targets. It brings structure, clarity and simplicity to marketing performance improvements. It's also an evolutionary framework whereby each investment builds on the prior and contributes to the next. Otherwise, marketing improvements and investments are a series of one-off, disconnected fixes that are generally short lived and fail to create momentum.

Digital Marketing Maturity Model

The Value of a Marketing Maturity Model

Only when marketing is in a constant state of improvement does it deliver increasing value to customers, the salesforce and the company.

Performance gains are seldom achieved and almost never sustained when tackled as individual pursuits. A better approach is to use the marketing maturity model as a diagnostic tool and roadmap. It surfaces strengths and weakness, shows where you are compared to your industry competitors and confirms what steps are required to get the next level.

It shows what capabilities are needed to achieve successive advancements, and what business outcomes are realized with each advancement. Each successive maturity tier delivers increased revenue contribution and ROI.

There is an endless number of improvements that can be pursued. Knowing the investment and payback for each will cut through the clutter and define the most efficient roadmap to meet targeted objectives and financial goals.

The Johnny Grow Marketing Maturity Model

We have built our progressive model over more than two decades. An illustration and insights for each level are shared below.

Marketing Maturity Model


Marketing organizations at this stage are characterized by their operating model, limited services, limited technology and inability to evolve. They operate as cost centers, so the top goal is cost containment.

When company costs get tight or budgets are reduced, they incur a disproportionately higher hit. They operate as a departmental function and have little reach into the rest of the company.

Customer engagement is reactive and ad hoc. Customers are viewed as a homogenous group and customer intelligence is minimal.

A limited budget forces them to be efficient but prevents them from being effective.

Staff skills are comparably low and processes are mostly manual. Staff focus their time more on the urgent than the important.

They are technology laggards. There is no MarTech strategy, so marketers use multiple fragmented applications which increases manual entry and duplicate data. There is little business process automation and even less data transformation. So, information reporting is limited to historical data and simple activity-based performance measures.

Improving or transforming performance is a periodic idea but seldom executed. Because the marketing department delivers no differentiating value and no measurable revenue contribution, company management believe marketing improvements are costly and mostly inconsequential.

With little to no focus on improvements this group is unintentionally decreasing profits and holding back company growth. Many times, they are in a death stall and don't know it.


At this stage marketers are performing at peer group levels, which means they deliver neither an advantage nor disadvantage. Efficient organizations are characterized by their adoption of marketing strategy, customer focus, expanded services and technology automation.

At this level they have advanced from cost centers to profit centers. So, there is less of a focus on cost minimalization and much more emphasis on investment maximization.

Efficient organizations lead with a customer affinity strategy to achieve slated customer and company financial outcomes.

They are adept at technology automation. They have a MarTech strategy and have shifted from a patchwork of piecemeal point solutions to application platform solutions such as a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP). Their MAP is tightly integrated to their CRM platform and they have consolidated data siloes.

They have implemented multi-channel customer engagement. But siloed communication channels make conversation fidelity and tracking digital footprints difficult as prospects and customers transition from one channel to another.

Most importantly, they are no longer stagnate and periodically, but not continuously, implement performance improvements.


At this level the organization provides a performance advantage, but not competitive differentiation. These organizations are always profit centers and proficient at converting annual budgets into company revenues and showing clear and increasing ROI.

They have evolved from a customer focus to customer-centricity. That means they have data-driven customer intelligence for each type of customer and defined processes to consistently acquire and convert leads into Sales Qualified Opportunities.

They have shifted from doing things right to doing the right things. The know efficiency and effectiveness are complimentary but distinct. Becoming highly efficient in low value or non-essential services does not improve customer value or business outcomes.

Making performance measures focused on efficiency without a focus on effectiveness (financial outcomes) is a losing proposition. But when the two are pursued in parallel, time and activities are reallocated from low to high value actions. There is a clear recognition that if processes don't create value that customers care about or are willing to pay for, it may not matter how efficient they are.

Customer engagement has advanced from multi-channel to omni-channel. That means the company can track customer fidelity across channels and use that data for personalized, relevant and predictive customer experiences.

Sales engagement has advanced from collaboration to a sales and marketing Service Level Agreement that measures and reports each sides contribution to shared goals.

Most processes are refined and optimized, but they never stop improving. The top sources for improvements are customer and salesforce feedback. They proactively engage customers and the salesforce and act on the input.

Technology is often centralized in a Marketing Ops group. That results in greater specialization and more advanced use of technologies. It also increases technology ROI.

Based on my three decades of marketing consulting I've uncovered an interesting finding about this level. It's common that marketing managers classify themselves in this tier while company executives place them in the prior (Efficient) tier.


The organization now delivers competitive differentiation and sustainable competitive advantages.

Marketing is characterized by its direct alignment with company priorities, continuous process improvements, innovation services, customer advocacy, customer loyalty and rising revenue contribution.

At this level, the organization is a technology champion. Many have adopted a Marketing Center of Excellence (CoE) to deliver a force multiplier impact throughout the department and the company.

Everything that is repeated is automated. Information reporting has advanced from hindsight to foresight. Artificial Intelligence (AI) delivers next best offers, next best actions and prescriptive advice. AI drives improvements to staff productivity and customer engagement.

Because one day's differentiation becomes the next day's table stakes, the organization embraces reinvention. It is driven by change agents and has mature change management processes and programs.

Change is driven by customer behaviors and key performance measures. These marketers are in a continuous pursuit of improvements that most matter, such as customer conversions, customer lifetime value (CLV) and customer retention.

Best-in-Class performance is never achieved with random pursuits. It's the result of a planned evolution and governance from company executive stakeholders, not just marketing organization leaders.

A Capabilities Maturity Model

The above marketing maturity model shows the main characteristics among performance tiers. However, it's a strategic view and we know when implementing marketing transformation that clients benefit from a more detailed perspective.

That's why will drill down to advance from strategic to tactical execution with Marketing Capabilities Models that segment five essential areas that directly link to the most important business outcomes.

Below is an example.

Marketing Transformation Evolution

Here is a marketing maturity model framework to systemically drive marketing transformation.

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Note that each of the five capability segment criteria may change based on the company and their marketing transformation objectives.

Next Step, Begin Your Journey

Different companies will start at different stages. Some may start at the beginning. Others midway. But irrespective of where you start, you need a roadmap that defines the highest impact destination, the shortest route to get there and the best practices that can be replicated to reduce risk and accelerate time to value.

The Johnny Grow Marketing Maturity Model is a framework that identifies a short list of capabilities that most influence, and sometimes springboard, advancement from one tier to the next.

It starts with an assessment to measure the five most strategic impact areas, prioritize your limited budget and identify the highest impact opportunities.

Maturity Model Measurement

Once you objectively assess your baseline performance and starting point, the marketing maturity model can help identify a few pathfinding projects that deliver quick results and create momentum. When early projects show a quantifiable ROI, skeptics will be relegated to the sidelines and the shift toward a transformational journey will begin.

And one final note. You don't need a complex marketing scorecard as the only metrics that really matter to the C-suite are marketing ROI and increased revenue contribution. Placing focus on the methods, best practices and actions that drive these two measures will create an unstoppable marketing transformation.