One of the most essential competencies of a successful modern marketing organization also happens to be the most difficult: cross-functional alignment.
Achieving cross-functional alignment requires internal agreement on set priorities—be they for a week, month, quarter, or year. Then, these priorities must be highly visible across an organization, to ensure people are accountable. That means each and every person on your team is held to deadlines and deliverables—and empowered to say “no” to reactive, ad hoc projects that could derail your established priorities.
In this round of “Ask the Experts,” we wanted to know how best-in-class marketing leaders overcome this challenge of internal alignment, from eliminating silos to setting priorities. Here’s what they had to say.
How important is visibility and alignment across your marketing content, teams, and campaigns? What do you do to facilitate this?
It’s vital. This is InsightSquared. We’re a sales performance analytics company. Almost everything we do is reflected in a report. We give everyone in the company access to our marketing dashboard. We expose the dashboard to the full sales team at our monthly go-to-market meeting. We review it weekly with the full marketing team. This level of transparency and accountability is the only way to earn confidence.
This is one area where most B2B marketing organizations are severely lacking. In order to provide a consistent experience and enable visibility into every buyer/customer touch point through your journey, organizations mu operationalize their approach and be sure to align their People, Process, Content, Technology and Data to their buyer. This is far more than building a waterfall or funnel and expecting the buyers path to be a liner Step 1,2,3 through their process. In most cases we are dealing with buying committees which make up multiple individuals and unless there is complete alignment across these 5 pillars – what we call Demand Process, there will always be a weak link in the chain
The answer is, it is essential, but the full answer could occupy a book.
A common obstacle is that content from central marketing doesn’t work at a regional level, but central marketing either doesn’t know, or isn’t willing or able to regionalize the content. In a dysfunctional system, regional marketing responds by creating and distributing their own content without involving central marketing. This creates silos and prevents adaptive learning.
Marketing has to invite insights about what content regional marketing and local customers need. They have to be willing to let go of some control and allow regional authors to be full participants in the system. Regional marketing has to be an active conduit of information and modify central content responsibly and transparently.
ConOps can facilitate this by providing a content system that becomes a single source of truth because everyone wants to use it. ConOps should use the CMS to achieve transparency between central and regional marketing by showing what content exists, who’s creating it, and how it is being used in each region. The CMS can facilitate central-regional collaboration by delivering modular content and the ability to personalize content through an automated engine.
Alignment across content, teams and campaigns is super-important. Without it, much of the investment you make in content can go to waste. In fact, alignment across teams and campaigns leads to higher content ROI.
One way I facilitate alignment is to evangelize our content assets in reference-able and searchable platforms. Email isn’t reference-able or searchable, because a reply that I send to Joe and Sarah is not seen by the rest of the organization.
Instead, I’ll answer questions about content in our social intranet, and provide the answer there. This creates stronger alignment between content and teams because that question-and-answer is indexed by the intranet and made available to everyone, including the new employee who starts next month.