What do senior leaders of organizations, regardless of size or industry, think when they are asked to commit more resources to messaging and selling?
While those working in the field talk about different disciplines like marketing, public relations, sales, communications and advertising, decision makers tend to lump them all together and ask:
Do we really need to do that?
How much is this going to cost me?
How will we know if it is working or not?
Isn’t (Insert name of person or department) responsible for that?
Marketing and messaging professionals are quick to passionately explain why their recommendations are vital to the organization. However, they often do not focus enough on the Return on Investment in terms CEO’s, entrepreneurs and CFO’s are accustomed to hearing and end up without the buy-in necessary for success.
Senior leaders also tend to lose patience with multiple departments or vendors (PR, Sales, Marketing, Corporate Communications, etc.) that rarely communicate with each other as well as they should. Each function or area sees things in their own biased way.
Sales thinks they’re king because they bring in the business. Others find them arrogant and demanding. Advertising sees themselves as cool and full of big ideas. Others see them as full of something else. PR talks about framing the message while other departments wonder what they really do. The list could go on and on. The end result is a perception among senior leaders that these areas are inefficient cost centers with overlapping, duplicative efforts.
Organizations often talk about getting these departments to work together more but become frustrated with mixed results attributed to the type of work and workers involved. Phrases like “You know those creative people,” or “He’s a marketing guy, they’re different,” are used to explain it away.
How can organizations overcome this vicious cycle of frustration?
Five Steps to Integration
Senior leaders need to champion the idea of creating a true integrated marketing and PR program and then focus on these five strategic initiatives to make it happen:
1. Develop mutually agreed upon target markets that the organization and its messaging and selling efforts will focus on. Far too often, target markets are described in broad or general terms. Drill down each target audience into manageable market segments then make sure each department knows and agrees on the segmented target markets. For example, Sales often overlooks the importance of employees as a key target market while Corporate Communications clearly sees this group as vital. Marketing/Advertising sometimes focuses so much on the creative message but forgets that the target audience has to see or hear it when they are able and willing to buy. Taking the time to clearly communicate information about the target market segments is the first step toward successful integration.
2. Find out what each target market wants by asking them, through multiple channels. While engaging a market research firm is the most formal of research methods, don’t overlook other ways to learn about target markets. Your Sales team can ask customers and prospects what they think and track the results. Corporate Communications should be able to easily survey employees. Your methodology doesn’t have to be perfect. The key takeaway is that you should ask your customers, internal and external, what they think and act accordingly.
3. Develop a consistent message and require that each department live by it. Be vigilant about message integrity and consistency but also be flexible. For example, your sales team isn’t going to use the slogan from your advertising all the time. Tweak the messaging accordingly for each target market but ensure that the overall theme and key message points are still being conveyed. Consider secret shopping so that you are more aware of what your customers are really seeing and hearing.
4. Work with each department or vendor on clearly defining their goals and the market forces that impact their ability to achieve those goals. Develop a summary of each department or vendor’s specific roles and their strengths. Then, convey these key points to everyone involved. The goal is to increase the level of understanding and respect across functions.
5. Instill a Corporate-Wide Marketing ROI focus. Challenge your marketing and messaging professionals to provide rationale in terms of Marketing ROI Success Metrics. Ask them to work in conjunction with Finance to build the metrics. Then, report the success metrics to leaders and managers throughout the organization. The more everyone understands the marketing, selling and messaging goals and processes, the better.
Developing a true Integrated Marketing, PR and Selling program doesn’t just happen. But once you invest the time and effort, you will reap the benefits of a positive Marketing ROI.
David M. Mastovich, MBA is President of MASSolutions, Inc. With a core philosophy of integrated marketing, MASSolutions focuses on improving the bottom line for clients through creative selling, messaging and PR solutions. In his recent book, "Get Where You Want To Go: How to Achieve Personal and Professional Growth Through Marketing, Selling and Story Telling," Mastovich offers strategies to improve sales and generate new customers; management and leadership approaches; and creative marketing, PR and communications ideas. For more information, please visit massolutions.biz.