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Good Marketeers Play Well With Others

Brainstorm

Silos in companies make it very difficult to live up to the customer's idea of a relationship. Too often different functional groups have their own agenda, their own objectives, and their own budgets. Some forward-thinking companies resolve this dilemma by creating new positions, like Vice President of Customer Experience, with authority across traditionally discrete functions and departments.

If, as a marketer, you are trying to refocus and integrate your programs, take the time to win over the other teams in your own company first. Involve sales in developing and articulating your message. Check with customer-facing personnel, like service reps, to ensure that your messaging fits what they've heard and will resonate with real customers. Work closely with billing, operations, and IT so that your conversation doesn't disconnect at a moment of truth like purchase or delivery.

One approach might be to create a task force with delegates from each department or function that relates to the customer. That way, each team's objectives and operational issues will be represented as you work towards a unified set of customer experience goals.

Remember, your customer doesn't know (or care) that marketing, sales, manufacturing, service and billing work out of 5 different locations and see each other only once a year at the company picnic.

Similarly, many marketers run into obstacles when components of the overall program are developed by different outside vendors and resources. One agency may seem simpler. But, be careful that a single outside partner doesn't dictate a strategy that is too myopic.

An ad agency will naturally suggest a strategy appropriate to advertising. A direct marketing firm will have a similar bias toward direct. And your P.R. firm will probably expect public relations to solve any and all of your problems. Most agencies have weaknesses as well as strengths. You may be better served with several relationships — as long as you can create and maintain a true team-based solution.

If possible, include strategists from each of these outside partners in your planning. Select organizations that are "best of breed" in their specific discipline and ask for senior-level contributors for this critical first stage. Once your interdisciplinary team has agreed to and articulated one shared communications strategy, you'll find it easier to manage project teams.

But remember that no matter how many important agency people you gather at your strategy sessions, the most important contributor to the process must be your customer.

Back to basics ...

What do they want?

What do they need? 

Then, how and when and in what way do they want you to communicate with them?

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