3 Silos that are Holding Back Your Marketing Strategy

3 Silos that are Holding Back Your Marketing Strategy
Emmie Musser
April 23, 2015
Silo graphic

Silo: Greek for “pit holding grain.” Also, a common term heard around the office place to describe communication and integration struggles between departments. Over the past decade of working in the marketing world, both on the client and agency side, I’ve encountered three common silos that offer marketing teams the best opportunity for advancement if eliminated and made to join forces.

1. Internal Communications

Employees are arguably your company’s most valuable marketing assets. It’s the old adage: Everyone is in sales. Therefore, communication to your employees that is on par with brand standards is essential to creating brand advocates. Every newsletter, every companywide email, every event, every pay stub printed is an opportunity to elevate your brand. Unite your internal champions and position them to represent your company in a way that brings honor to your business. No matter how much you invest in paid tactics for brand management, that entire brand will change with the first interaction a consumer has with a representative from your company, whether it’s a fine-tuned salesperson or an actuary who is never face-to-face with a client. In that moment, one of three things will happen to your brand: opinion will remain consistent with the person’s prior perception, opinion will improve from the person’s prior perception, opinion will irreversibly plummet and your company will never be given consideration by that person again. (And they will share their negative experience with 500+ of their closest friends on social media.) It is essential for companies to communicate their mission statement and core values. Do this not only through bullets and statistics, but through stories. “Stories are data with a soul” (Brene Brown,             scholar, author, researcher). As a technology-driven society, we’re more in touch than ever with “what” but we’re losing connectivity to “why.” This “why” is the heart of your brand, and every single employee must be engaged at this level.

2. Cause Marketing (aka philanthropic management, sponsorships, community engagement, etc.)

Traditionally, senior-level management allocates funding to support charitable groups on behalf of the company. Oftentimes, the marketing team is not invited to the decision-making process. The result is money invested without marketing strategy and integration into existing marketing efforts such as social media engagement, sponsorship recognition at the event, etc. Marketing is not the reason to support charities; it is certainly a corporate responsibility. My point is that marketing is an ancillary benefit that should be planned for and executed strategically and with tact.  “89% of U.S. consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality” (2013 Cone Communications Social Impact Study). Businesses that already incorporate cause marketing into their overall marketing strategy are seeing the benefits as evidenced by increased spending. “Cause sponsorship is predicted to reach $1.92 billion in 2015, a projected increase of 3.7% over 2014” (IEG Sponsorship Report).

3. Digital Strategy (aka website management, social media marketing, SEO/SEM)

What you offer online, how you offer it, whom you target and the overall experience are one equation adding up to the online customer experience.  Key word: customer. You’ve read hundreds of articles already about integrating social media with traditional marketing. I’m referring to something much bigger. Who is driving the priority for IT decisions within your organization? The people creating the widget, promoting the widget, pricing the widget and analyzing the overall performance need to meet up and strategize together. I’m always a little fearful of clients who want me to develop their social media campaign but insist on handling development of the website with another partner and bid out their search engine marketing to yet another. Top that off with an internal IT team designing business IT solutions without direction or connectivity to the customer and you’ll find yourself hemorrhaging the company’s most important resources: time and money. Not to mention the frustration you’ll cause among customers and shareholders alike who are not getting what they expected due to a disjointed overall strategy.  Engage your teams to develop a multichannel discipline enveloping a seamless and meaningful experience to keep your customer coming back for more. “U.S. companies are losing as much as 23% of their entire annual online revenues from providing poor experiences to their online customers” (Online-Behavior).

How to integrate? One conversation at a time. Meet in person with decision makers in each division/department and illustrate the opportunities for your company. Establish formal procedures or a methodology that makes collaboration a necessary future step to implementation of a new idea. Assess existing platforms with the same collaborative spirit. Be mindful of egos. Approaching each team member with a recommendation to integrate and support one another vs. “improve” or “overhaul” current procedures will keep conversations from disintegrating into nonproductive conflict or a stalemate. Ultimately, integration means more effective overall marketing and therefore increased profitability – a goal all team members can rally around.