marketing relationshipsJumping through hoops is a feeling we all get when relationships are dysfunctional. In marketing, that can happen within the department, with other groups inside the company, with agencies and alliances, and worst of all, with customers.

Customer Relationships:  anything that doesn’t make sense to customers is a sign of a dysfunctional relationship with marketing. As your company’s competitive strategists, product marketers, brand managers, and communicators, your marketing organization is in the hot seat to ensure that whatever the company does fits with customers’ expectations. Ill-timed or excessive outreach, and experiences at odds with brand promises, are indications of misalignment with customers. The cost: churn and remedial expenses in service, success, operations, loyalty, customer experience management, etc.

Alliance Relationships:  any disconnects across components of your total solutions and channel partners spell headaches for them as well as for customers and your own teams. In the quest to expand the pie and promise convenience, a lot of moving parts are in the mix. Every disconnect is an opening for wasted resources, dampened morale and goodwill, and missed opportunities.

Agency Relationships:  any imbalance of mutual respect between you and your suppliers erodes productivity and value that could otherwise contribute to your collective success. We all want customer relationship strength, so it’s essential to see your own place in the value chain realistically. Everyone is a customer of someone, and a supplier to someone, so inequities make no sense, especially in our enlightened age of social correctness. Red tape, dropped balls, black holes, and me-first attitudes waste a lot of time and opportunities.

Internal Relationships:  any misalignment with other functional areas, or within the marketing organization itself, takes a toll on trust, tenure, productivity, scalability, and agility. Marketing is inherently outward-focused, yet it is an integral cog in the enterprise wheel.  Many efforts get lost in translation, as marketers’ language and metrics are a mis-match with other functions’.

Despite everyone’s acknowledgment that customer retention is more profitable than acquisition, marketing’s post-sale relationship with customers — and the internal organizations associated with post-sale — is relatively weak in a large percentage of companies. Over-focus on alignment with sales and IT has obscured the need for marketing alignment with customer success and service.

As Gary Katz stated in his flagship article, 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing, which inspired me to write this article:

“Team collaboration is a real challenge in organizations modeled on competition, power and control structures.  Rampant over-dependency on individuals who closely protect their specialized knowledge as a source of power, potentially leaving the company in the lurch when they are unavailable or decide to leave the organization. Real collaboration and traceable decision-making processes are fantasies in such companies.”
— Gary M. Katz

So what can be done?  Dysfunction can be reversed to achieve strong functionality. It happens by embedding strong change management skills, emotional intelligence and empathy, knowledge management and organizational learning, processes and governance, and strategic metrics within your entire marketing organization’s capabilities. Embedding is the operative word. It means marketers themselves need to learn these techniques and use them extensively. It is not enough to plant specialists for these techniques  within arm’s reach to solve situations as they arise. It’s a matter of baking-in.

  • The ClearAction Value Exchange is a breakthrough method to do just that. It fosters rapid shared vision and capability in all the areas described above. It is an open source community that bridges silos of all types.
  • Marketing operations is a function within marketing that should be positioned to prevent these dysfunctional relationships. It is a facilitator role to enable the whole marketing organization to demonstrate accountability, alignment and agility.

The best digital marketing, SEO, and predictive analytics, and the savviest social media management, customer engagement, and creative strategy will always be tripped up if the deadly sin of dysfunctional relationships is not conquered.

Stop jumping through hoops — or requiring others to do so. Make a resolution to put aside the deadly sins. It’s none too soon. Start this year.

This post is derived from the article “7 Deadly Sins of Marketing” by Gary Katz, founder of Marketing Operations Partners and co-founder of ClearAction Continuum.

Other posts in this series:

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