If you read the title of this article and thought, "CONCURED team, what are you talking about? Of course my marketing team is integrated. We couldn’t be successful without being integrated.”
Okay, but is it really?
Sure, you have weekly team meetings. You all follow the same brand guidelines. You make sure that you effectively communicate with the leads from other teams (advertising, social media, public relations, etc.).
Yawn. We’re going to stop right there.
We're not saying what you're doing is wrong; we're saying that in today's marketing space, with new management tools being introduced and continued changes in “best practice” methods, what you're doing is likely not enough. And there are others who agree with us.
In her March 2019 article, “How to Smash Silos and Better Integrate Your Marketing Team,” Annemaria Nicholson (NewsCred’s director of customer success) describes her own experiences with a large-scale (100+ people total) enterprise marketing team. Issues included conflicting messages, a lack of processes, inability to scale campaigns, and an overall disorganization of the collective teams that all stemmed from the inability to see what the other teams were doing.
Now, briefly, back to your marketing efforts. While you may delegate different marketing responsibilities to different teams and do your best to function as one marketing machine, your efforts are still probably siloed. And as companies expand and find it necessary to create specialized teams for each aspect of marketing (again, social media, corporate communications, public relations, and so on), there is a greater likelihood that these efforts will work in silos to some degree.
But like Nicholson, you can make some substantial changes to the way your teams operate to go from “We think we’re integrated and here’s why” to “We know we’re integrated; let us show you the data.”
Why You Need to Integrate Your Marketing Efforts
In the third paragraph, we briefly listed off all the things people are doing that they think integrates their marketing teams. And while we hate to break it to you, we also don’t want to see you continue to make the same mistakes. So here’s the Band-Aid, ripped off:
None of that is integration, sorry.
That is just the basic fundamentals of working as part of a large team. You have meetings to discuss and brainstorm. You follow brand guidelines because you all need to uphold and broadcast the same image and messages. You communicate with team leads because it is the most effective way to make decisions and, in turn, relay information from those decisions back to the individual team members.
When we say integration, we mean data. We mean processes. We mean that you need to know that what you’re doing will support—and not contradict—the message that Megan in product marketing is trying to push to consumers and vice versa. And as companies grow, so do the teams that manage each aspect.
Large companies can expect to have a dedicated team each to content marketing, product or service marketing, corporate communications (internal or external or both, depending on the company’s organization), public relations, social media, digital advertising, account-based marketing, guerilla marketing, and more. We could go on, but there are over 150 different types of marketing that you could realistically create teams for if you had the resources.
So, what can you do? Simply put, you need to integrate your marketing efforts. But that will take additional time, energy, and resources to do. And while it may seem like an exorbitant, unnecessary cost in the beginning, you will learn two things:
- Taking this action was absolutely necessary. You’ll be surprised at the gaps you find.
- The returns will far outweigh the initial costs in terms of profit and overall success.
Let’s get started.
Step 1: Evaluate your marketing structure
The first step is to learn about your marketing structure. Start with what you know and work from there. For Nicholson, this evaluation process focused on identifying roadblocks specific to her team. Think about:
- Where and how your team members work. Does everyone work in close proximity (same office building with marketing teams seated near each other)? Do you have multiple offices across the nation—or the world—where time zones come into play?
- Think about your respective team members. Are most native speakers of the language in which you market? Do they understand the nuances, double meanings, and possible interpretations for different phrases that come with that language? Do they all share a near-equal understanding of events that can impact the business and therefore its marketing messages?
- What are the resources available to you? Resources include budget, talent, tools, and more that are necessary to successfully and efficiently complete your job. And to that end, what resources do you need more of and which do you lack entirely?
- What type of tools are you currently using? What are the most crucial features that you use all the time? What are ones you never use but should? Where are the gaps in these tools?
During this discovery process, you must be honest and detailed about your structure, processes, and teams. It’s a tedious process, but you need to identify what’s wrong before you can start to figure out how to fix it.
Step 2: Do your research
Now that you have an idea of the challenges your team faces and the types of solutions you’ll need to overcome them, you can start looking into new tools. Because you know exactly what your issues are, you will streamline your search by being able to pinpoint tools and platforms that have much-needed features and are in line with your budget.
And, as Nicholson explains, the ability to be specific about your issues will help a salesperson better guide you to a solution that could work for you and your team.
When looking for a new solution, take the following into consideration:
- How many needs does it address/gaps does it close? In a perfect world, one solution would address all your needs. But since there is no one such solution that will do so (unless you create it yourself from scratch), you may have to choose a combination of tools.
- Are there case studies or other available data to show the return on investment this solution could offer?
- What are the solution’s capabilities in terms of integrating with currently used martech, and how seamless is said integration?
- What does the onboarding process look like? Is it a series of video tutorials, a one-day in-office training session, individual training sessions, or something else?
Step 3: Get everyone on board
Once you’ve chosen the solution or solutions, gotten them approved by appropriate leadership, and signed the contract for the solution(s), you will need to onboard your team. For the smoothest transition, the onboarding process should look something like the following example:
During the Discovery Process
Ask for input from your team. They will ultimately be using this new solution, and they can have insight into challenges that you may not have considered. Explain 1) that you realize there are certain obstacles your marketing team faces, 2) you are looking inward to identify the issues, and 3) you would like their help in identifying these issues.
During the Buying Journey
Keep them updated, but don’t get too into the weeds. Now is the time to start getting them excited for the change that is to come. A desired, wanted change is much easier on everyone involved versus a change that is accepted begrudgingly.
When You’ve Chosen a Solution(s)
Don’t tell your team anything until you have confirmed which solution(s) you are choosing and have signed a contract with the vendor.
When that is done, you can hold a meeting with the team:
- Discuss what the solution is.
- Show screen captures or an introductory video.
- Provide a schedule of the integration.
Make sure you are there to answer any questions and be more lenient as your team members learn the new solution. Some may have an easier time than others when it comes to the onboarding process.
Once your solution is in place and everyone knows how to use it, you need to monitor it. A solution is only as good as the individuals who are using it, so there is a likelihood of encountering human error. By monitoring your teams’ performance, you can make adjustments as needed to make sure your team is always working effectively.
Bring Your Marketing Together
In the effort to make our marketing more effective by creating teams, we can also inadvertently silo parts of our marketing from one another. But in order for our marketing team—as a whole and as smaller teams—to maximize results, we need to make sure that every aspect is well integrated.
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