Lack of awareness and knowledge of common Marketing goals are often key factors preventing Marketing from aligning effectively internally. This highlights the need to frame Marketing goals in terms of business outcomes that other functions understand. The narrow definition of Marketing’s role that is so often adopted within organizations tends to reinforce a type of silo thinking and behavior that frequently leads to overemphasis on tactics and the tendency to get stuck on the “activity treadmill.”
There’s little doubt that Marketing is often perceived to not speak the same language as other functions. Marketing often lacks respect in many organizations, a poor stature it has usually earned through free-wheel spending, lack of accountability and other acts of poor citizenship. Despite the language disconnect and reputation issues, enterprises can’t afford to allow this disconnect to become a perpetual excuse for not getting on the same page. The usual modus operandi will block an enterprise from achieving business results that depend on Marketing and other functions to align together and mobilize effort. Marketing has both a big challenge and opportunity to make inroads into how it is perceived and how well it collaborates with other groups. It needs to seize leadership by driving dialogue, attaining mutual understanding and buy-in, and achieving common Marketing goals.
Marketing needs to view its role more broadly to best align with the needs of the enterprise. With a narrow role, Marketing can become over-focused on lead-generation and communication to external stakeholders. This leads to an obsession with outputs, volume, production and other counting metrics rather than moving the needle as a enterprise to achieve critical business outcomes. If Marketing fails to link its activities to mutual outcomes, other departments will likely be resistant to adopting new ideas and approaches. They’ll fall into “not invented here” and “its not my job” patterns. As in so many situations, the question, “what’s in it for me?” must be convincingly answered. An even better question to address: “what’s in it for the business?”
Strategies for Marketing Alignment
A good starting point for bringing about this alignment is a joint planning meeting, where marketing, sales, customer experience, finance, operations and legal all participate and take collective ownership. Senior management must agree to common Marketing goals and terms, looking at incentive structures and aligning with desired outcomes. Actions should be clearly communicated and used to frame all Marketing efforts, ensuring that the true measures of success are identified.
The journey to alignment should commence with small collaborative successes, with teams working to prioritize and focus on what will have greatest impact. Companies should also not be afraid to leverage expert external resources, engage leadership and form cross-functional teams. The key is to take ownership of the challenge and collaborate, but don’t control — the emphasis should be on developing a collective enterprise success mindset.
Marketing needs to go to other departments and either ask, “what can we do for you?” or say, “here’s what we need” and then commit. A focus on the customer and results is crucial here, with reciprocal Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) put in place to ensure that the customer is the common denominator. Tools, such as co-developing a marketing scorecard and reporting on marketing; performance quarterly utilizing dashboard technology, can help to keep everyone informed of progress, recognize individual contributions toward cross-functional team goals and highlight success along the way.