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5 steps to overcome internal marketing team non-alignment

5 steps to overcome internal marketing team non-alignment

This post is by Anton Buchner, a senior consultant with TrinityP3. Anton is one of Australia’s leaders in data-driven marketing. Helping navigate through the bells, whistles and hype to identify genuine marketing value when it comes to technology, digital activity, and the resulting data footprint.

One of the greatest challenges in marketing today is how to align internal teams, approaches, and performance measures.

The complexity of channels, the ongoing digitisation of society in a Covid-impacted world, global uncertainty impacting business confidence, and the need to better manage the cost/value equation of marketing activity have all added pressure to marketing management.

Leaders are under more and more pressure to cut costs, whilst trying to prove that their marketing activity is making a positive impact.

As a result, alignment has become the focus to achieving success.

The common challenge that marketers are facing

TrinityP3 is facilitating projects with marketers on how best to balance top of the marketing funnel activity: driving brand health and brand preference; versus the bottom of the funnel performance activity: nurturing and conversion.

Marketers say that they’re struggling to reshape their teams and break down silos to achieve greater alignment. They’re struggling to work out how much to allocate in terms of budget, resources, and skillset. And how to reshape their teams, processes, and behaviours around new value-based models of working.

A different way of thinking about the opportunity

There are lots of opportunities to change, however, for this post, I’d like to highlight that you need to be careful of putting the cart before the horse

Market Mix Modelling, attribution, end to end funnel strategy, Artificial Intelligence engines, and many more opportunities exist to determine a more efficient &/or effective mix.

However, what’s lacking before implementing any of these, is clearly defining the objectives for each stage of the funnel. And then prioritising the importance, followed by an agreed understanding across your teams that customers can move through the funnel in many steps or sometimes one step. It’s not a one size fits all approach. And your teams and resources can be reshaped in many ways to deliver full-funnel activity.

This is where we’re seeing internal marketing change programs breaking down.

Firstly, mid-funnel activity is often ignored. And secondly, this approach tends to take a market or channel out approach, versus a segment or customer in approach. Neither one is better than the other. It really depends on the business that you’re in and the objectives that you have.

Some companies are more suited to market and channel out approaches, whereas others are best suited to segment or customer in approaches.

There’s no best practice. There’s only best-fit practice.

Best fit practice for your business

Best fit means looking at 5 steps to overcome non-alignment

Step 1 – define the link between business objectives and marketing objectives

If I asked you, how many marketing objectives do you have? And how are they mapped to your business objectives, then what would you say?

Are they clearly identified, articulated, and sweated over? Loosely agreed and sort of connected in an executive dashboard summary? Or are they identified, but not logically connected?

It’s a challenging area. We often review documents where so much work has gone into the business growth strategy and identifying the vision for the future. With clearly prioritised ‘big bets’ or business initiatives stated. However, the marketing objectives aren’t logically aligned. There’s often too much focus being given to individual silo department objectives.

It’s not our role to set objectives for marketers, however, we can assist you with approaches to help align them.

 Step 2 – define the link between business strategies and marketing strategies

Once objectives are agreed upon and aligned, there needs to be a link between the marketing strategy/s and the business strategy.

Sounds blindingly obvious. However, where we see marketers facing challenges, is when we identify that the marketing strategy isn’t clearly articulated on how the objectives will be achieved.

There is often tension between silos within marketing, and the funnel arguments begin.

One area (often the digital and acquisition teams) spruik the need for more budget as they’re accountable for their measures. However, their performance isn’t considering mid to upper-funnel expenditure and activity. They’re often taking claim for the last click, or last behaviour when a customer is ready to buy.

And the brand teams are left scratching their heads as to how to link their upper-funnel activity in driving brand health to overall performance.

If this is a challenge for you, then we can discuss best-fit approaches to achieve strategic alignment.

Step 3 – identify the structure that is required to deliver on the strategy

Again, one of the pitfalls we are seeing is changing structure before the strategy is agreed upon. We’re having conversations around uniting teams, breaking down silo management, and creating insourced roles, before identifying the best-fit structure for the strategy.

It’s important here to step back before making any change and identify a structure that overcomes the hurdles you’re currently facing.

It’s no good changing a manager or two, or combining two teams, when, the overall structure will still prevent all your marketing activity from being aligned.

Step 4 – identify the best capabilities (internal and external) for the structure

Once you’ve agreed on a best-fit structure, then it’s important to identify the right capability.

Do you need hybrid expertise? Specialist expertise?  Or unique combinations?

I’m oversimplifying all of this when most marketers have a hugely complex mix of capabilities. From brand expertise, storytelling, and content specialists, to the myriad of experts around the media landscape, performance marketing, and MarTech.

However, as marketing departments have grown, the skillsets have typically become disconnected or are not logically aligned.

The opportunity here is to re-look at the intent behind the cost of your internal capability, and what you’re paying for in terms of retainers and agency costs for external capability.

TrinityP3 assists marketers by analysing whether the cost or remuneration base is justified considering steps 1 – 3 above.

Step 5 – establish processes that create greater efficiency

And finally, part of any successful change management approach is ensuring processes are driving greater efficiency and not tripping up teams which only serves to damage team culture and create unnecessary tension.

We’ve seen many new processes being embedded as end-point solutions. Whether it’s collaboration tools, agile ways of working, or other defined process flows.

However, often they’ve been done in one silo only, and aren’t generating the process efficiency gains that the marketing leaders are looking for.

Efficiency is often being viewed as speed and cost improvements. However, it should be viewed as being more efficient with a reduction of resources or the limited resources available.

Whether it’s better ways of prioritisation, better ways of handing over between teams, or better ways of reaching agreement at specific stages of planning and execution, the critical point is to create a best-fit approach that drives better behaviour within and across your teams, and that flows in and out smoothly with agency partners, as well as between all the agencies in your roster.

There is a complex area with a myriad of pitfalls and challenges. However, by stepping back from it all, clarity can be achieved.

Successful change

By following these 5 steps, we’ve proven that change solutions can become more successful.

These 5 steps also help prevent focussing on solutions without initially gaining agreement across your Executive and Senior Management Teams. Including your agency partners.

If you’re struggling with any of the above, then I’d love to hear from you. Let’s take a deeper dive into it all.

TrinityP3 can help identify the real roadblocks and hurdles that may be holding you back. And then work with you to find a solution that will work for your environment and business cycle.

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    Anton is one of Australian's leading customer engagement consultants. With an eye for discovering greater marketing value and a love for listening to what customers are really saying about a brand. Anton has helped take global and local businesses including Microsoft, Nestlé, P&G, Gloria Jean's, Foxtel and American Express amongst others to the next level. Check out Anton's full bio here

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