It’s not uncommon for today’s marketing departments to suffer from integration problems. People across the different levels of the customer-facing groups, be it social marketers, customer support, marketing, sales, and so on, speak different languages, have different goals and pursue different agendas.
The more marketing agencies and contractors are used, the greater the chance of integration problems, tracing to complexity-induced errors and strategy-execution gaps
This can create what could be a fatal ailment in the overall marketing and brand structure of an organization.
“Symptoms include: schizophrenic brand messages, tactics that run counter to the marketing strategy; duplication of effort and; in-fighting around who controls the priorities and budget,” says Mitchell Osak, managing director of Quanta Consulting Inc., 3 Key to Conquering Modern Marketing Integration.
Luckily, with a few approaches, managers can preempt and overcome the harmful effects of low integration. According to Osak, a well-integrated company has a stronger chance of top marketing performance, higher customer acquisition and retention and, importantly, stronger brand image.
Integration between sales and marketing goals alone can result in growth.
“Marketing sales integration, or smarketing, can offer a business several benefits. According to Aberdeen, Highly aligned organizations achieved an average of 32% annual revenue growth – while less well-aligned companies reported an average of 7% decline in revenue,” says Laura Moes, Smarketing: Effective Sales and Marketing Integration.
1. Drive strategic congruence across the company
Brand internally: It all starts at home, so to speak. Management needs to ensure that the company mission and strategy is discussed early and often, across the entire organization. Changes need to be communicated immediately. And, as marketing starts with the employees, they all need to be reading off the same script.
Make planning visible: The planning process needs to be transparent and inclusive.
In-source more activities: “The more marketing agencies and contractors are used, the greater the chance of integration problems, tracing to complexity-induced errors and strategy-execution gaps,” says Osak.
2. Break down silos
Revamp the structure: There is a business maxim that says structure should follow strategy, meaning organizing around a strategic goal. Take Osak’s example of Rogers Communications:
“Another approach is around execution. For example, with social media executions we have a hub-and-spoke model with experts in the hub giving advice and assistance to those in the spoke trying to use social media for varying different objectives,” says John Boynton, chief marketing officer.
Clarify roles and responsibilities: Clarify and formalize decision maker roles and accountability with stakeholders.
3. Use one playbook
“Leaders need to ensure there is a shared marketing mission, lexicon and performance measurement systems that is congruent with corporate priorities and integrates every activity up and across the organization,” Osak adds.
Integration (and its benefits) isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. It takes time, and impatience is likely how fragmentation gets started in the first place. A 2012 study cited in Bloomberg Businessweek researched hundreds of growth companies and found that the average advertising campaign lasts approximately 2.3 years.
“Companies that maintain healthy growth over time tend to have longer-lasting campaigns, while those that struggle tend to change direction more frequently,” said Steve McKee, Integrated Marketing: If You Knew It, You’d Do It. Sticking with one strategy, communicating it effectively and ensuring all stakeholders have a hand in it will be the key to success.