Posts Tagged ‘interactive media mix’

Silos Belong on Farms (not in Marketing Departments)

August 11th, 2010

In most companies, silos exist throughout the organization.  Unless you’re a 5-person shop, you likely have departments that perform specific functions that allow the company to operate.  While this may be an organizational requirement, departments don’t have to become silos where there is very little collaboration, interaction and integrated planning, execution and management.  Even if you’re in the same department, silos often exist among and between different disciplines.  When it comes to marketing, there are often noticeable disconnects between planning, communications, PR, creative, media, direct marketing, digital and other specialties.  As the title to this blog suggests, I believe Silos belong are farms, not in marketing departments.

Brands must take an integrated approach that starts with a deep understanding of their audiences and objectives, and incorporates each medium that may be effectively utilized to reach and engage customers. In the digital realm we’re talking about display advertising, demand generation, paid search, natural search, email marketing,  social media and mobile marketing.  As there is no silver bullet in marketing, you have to take an integrated approach. Allocating budget and assigning responsibility is a good start, but without integrated planning, management and reporting, you might as well be living on a farm.

Earlier this year I moderated a panel discussion at the Online Marketing Summit on “Integrating Your Marketing Mix”. While it may not be the sexiest topic (the Twitter session next door had many more attendees), it is a very important topic and is a common challenge faced by marketing executives today.  I’ll address it by tackling the two big questions: what to integrate and how to do it.

What To Integrate?
I think you have to look at integration at two different levels.  Before you try to integrate your broadcast, print, direct mail, digital and other channels, you should integrate those activities that take place within each discipline.  Many consider “digital” or “interactive” as a stand-alone marketing discipline, when in fact is a collection of sub-specialties are that are quite different, yet inter-related.  Because they each require unique skills and experience, there are often internal and external chasms between web design, development, paid search, natural search, display media, email, social media and mobile, not to mention analytics and measurement.  Because each discipline requires specialized knowledge, it’s common that a brand will have one agency for paid search, another for natural search, another for display media, and others for email marketing, social media and mobile marketing.  Before you start trying to get traditional and digital to work together, you need to make sure your interactive specialists are all on the same page.  Once you have integrated digital planning, execution and measurement, you have a much better chance of winning the battle to integrate traditional and digital marketing efforts.

How to Integrate?
While there is no silver bullet for integrating business activities and operations, I can share a few thoughts that may be of help.  First, I am not an advocate of selecting one group or agency that can handle every one of your needs.  There are simply too many disciplines and all of them require deep knowledge and experience to make them work effectively.  No one agency can be great at everything. If you want the best in the disciplines that matter, you are often forced to cobble together a network of partners to achieve it.  In these situations, you can realize significant benefits by doing the following:

1. Integrate reporting and measurement – even if you use different resources (people, agencies, etc.) you can still standardize how results are tracked, reported and analyzed across channels.  Rather than receiving one report from your paid search firm, another from your display media agency, and yet more from your SEO, Social and Email partners, take some time up front to define the key performance indicators for each channel. Then require each partner to provide the information you need in a common format.  As it relates to digital marketing, you should standardize on one reporting platform that will be used to measure impact of your search, display, email and social media.  When it comes to reporting, less is more!

2. Integrate planning – once your strategic objectives are defined, ask each of your partners to create a plan that will help you achieve those objectives.  Give them a common framework (planning template) so each partner’s deliverables are consistent.  Then host a planning meeting in which all partners are invited to present their plan to the group.  Once the plans are presented, discuss them as a group with the goal of identifying where coordination, collaboration and knowledge sharing between and among your partners are required.

  • Case study: one of our clients hosted such an event and we found it to be very worthwhile.  Not only did we learn what the other groups were working on, but we also identified common challenges and solutions that could be leveraged across disciplines.  Most importantly, we realized there were many inter-dependencies between our groups, and that we all stood to benefit if we worked together and coordinated our efforts.  It was very eye-opening for us but no one benefited more than the client.

3. Integrate Execution – while integrated planning is a great start, the true value is realized through integrated execution. If you are a brand marketer, you need to do more than suggest that your team and/or agencies work together; you need to facilitate it to ensure follow through.  If you need an example of how to do this, look no further than the funny guy with the big head: Jack.

  • Case study: At the OMS panel mentioned above, Maria Brusaschetti, Media Manager for Jack In The Box, discussed how JITB not only encourages its agencies to work together – they require it.  They host all-hands planning meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page.  To ensure collaboration and cooperation, they tie agency compensation to feedback from peer surveys (yes, they survey their partners to find out how well their peers are cooperating).  If the agencies want to earn their bonus, they have to play nice with others.  I think this is a brilliant approach that can be also be implemented inside your organization.  If you want your departments to work together, offer the department heads monetary (and non-monetary) incentives to ensure interdepartmental cooperation.  Then make sure you follow through with execution.

In closing, integration is not a one-time fix.  As our organizations evolve, the ways in which we work together will evolve as well.  While mastering integration is far from easy, it can yield invaluable insights, efficiencies and synergy.  Or you can put on your overalls and fire up your John Deere.  The choice is yours!

Steve Latham

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