wanted to maintain that creativity but felt it was
also essential to devise a more systematic approach,
incorporating the technological tools, data, and
structure that could consistently deliver powerful
marketing for Target’s products. That required a new
strategic mind-set, which Jones distilled into three
principles for his team: Drive traffic. Deepen engagement. Strengthen shoppers’ love for the brand.
Every key marketing initiative had to reflect at least
one of those principles.
Jones and his team revamped the operating
model to develop a more structured decision process. They designed a tool called a strategy brief—a
standard template used to plan every major marketing initiative or campaign. The brief placed a
particular emphasis on the business problem being addressed. It also included a clear definition of
the target customers; insights about their behavior;
concise descriptions of relevant market, competitor, and customer trends; a crisp articulation of the
marketing challenge; and an explicit statement of
the desired customer and business outcomes—all in
two pages or less. This was a far cry from the typical
marketing packet, with its reams of data and limited
insights. The power of the brief lies in the clarity it
provides on the insights and criteria that will govern
the decisions required for any initiative.
To achieve the desired impact, Target also had to
define decision roles and processes for creating and
using each brief. First the leadership team took part
in a workshop to agree on high-level decision rights
for category marketing, merchants, media strategy,
customer insights, creative, and other areas. Then a
working team designed and documented the strategy brief process, testing the assigned decision rights
by using an actual marketing initiative as a live pilot.
The team held additional workshops to assess what
was or wasn’t working in the pilot and made adjustments before rolling out the approach more broadly.
At Target, category marketers are now responsible for creating each brief, with well-defined points
for input from merchants, media strategy, and customer insights. They specify what decisions are to be
made in each marketing meeting, who should attend
those meetings, what the decision rights are for each
decision, and what inputs each participant should
contribute. The alignment, clarity, and transparency that a strategy brief facilitates enable Target’s
category marketing team to effectively partner with
merchandising in articulating the company’s business objectives and broad marketing strategy. The
DECIDING HOW TO DECIDE
DECIDE INPUT RECOMMEND PERFORM
Assigning roles for key decisions is often complex, but
an agreed-upon tool can facilitate the process. When
teams use this one, developed by Bain and known by
the loose acronym RAPID, they usually settle on a single
REGULATORY CENTRAL MARKETING PRODUCT
MANAGEMENT FUNCTIONS INVOLVED MARKETING/ CREATIVE SALES/
WHAT IS THE OVERALL
WHAT CLAIMS DO WE WAN T
TO MAKE? WHAT FEATURES
AND BENEFITS DO WE WANT
WHAT IS THE LOOK AND
FEEL OF THE MATERIALS?
A company assigning rights related to marketing
communications decisions might diagram the roles
of various functions this way.
gathers input from
before proposing an
Someone whose formal
agreement with the
from legal or finance—
must sign off.
Focus on getting
only the input
that is critical
to making and
The person with
“the D” is ultimately
A split role in a box indicates distinct decision roles for different
people (usually at different levels) within the same function.