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Breaking Down Marketing Silos

September 25, 2013 | By Julie Ogilvie

Having trouble managing your content development process? The SiriusDecisions Content Model provides an overview of how audience-centric content can be produced, and helps marketers navigate the sometimes rocky areas of shared responsibility that occur throughout the content creation process.

As I pass the one-month mark of my tenure as a research analyst for SiriusDecisions’ Strategic Communications Management service, I’ve found myself reflecting on the amazing amount of change that has happened in marketing in only a few years, and how those changes have reshaped the modern marketing organization.

What was once a relatively stable and homogenous business function is now a collection of deeply etched specialties that often struggle to speak the same language.  SiriusDecisions was founded on the need to align marketing with sales; today, we need to work hard just to align marketing with marketing.

This marketing Tower of Babel (or babble, as the case may be) is one of the reasons that our clients are so eager to learn more about our frameworks, such as the SiriusDecisions Content Model. Not only does the content model provide a comprehensive overview of how audience-centric content can be produced, but it also helps marketers navigate the sometimes rocky areas of shared responsibility that occur throughout the content development process. While each organization may have a slightly different org structure or view of shared responsibilities, the model provides a starting point for conversations between marketing groups.

One area of marketing that has recently seen great advancement is, of course, the ability to measure and quantify the performance of various programs. Measurement would seem to be common ground within the marketing organization, but metrics can also be a great source of confusion and friction among teams.

A problem that I have witnessed in my career is that organizations often attempt to shoehorn all types of marketing programs into the demand generation dashboard.  If a certain program or a piece of content doesn’t produce clicks or form-fills, it is judged unworthy. This is dreary marketing – counting things for the sake of counting without ever looking beyond the numbers or giving thought to what might be happening.  Sadly, this is what marketing has become in some organizations. Corporate marketing may feel especially disconnected from the new data-driven world.  Some corporate communications groups aren’t even a part of the marketing organization.

Many marketing activities are designed to educate, increase awareness, build emotional connections and foster customer loyalty. These are all difficult to measure in a demand paradigm, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t valuable activities or that they are not contributing to business results.  Research continues to point to the strong role of brand in b-to-b buying decisions. We corp comm types do need to work harder to figure out ways to demonstrate our impact.  This starts with designing programs with specific audiences and goals in mind.

The old approach to measuring brand awareness through an annual survey that simply quantifies name recognition among an undifferentiated mass of potential buyers is no longer enough.  We must draw correlations to other metrics reported in the dashboard and think about developing our own set of metrics when a cookie-cutter approach doesn’t cut it. The SiriusDecisions Brand Measurement Framework is a great starting point.

Maybe it’s also time for a concerted effort by corporate communications to bring together the marketing silos and create more of a shared language.  It seems like a fitting job for us, given that we have “communications” in our name.  So cue up “Kumbaya” and bring everyone in for a big group hug.  We are on the same team, after all.

Julie Ogilvie

Julie Ogilvie is a Senior Research Director of Strategic Communications Management at SiriusDecisions. She has held a variety of leadership roles in marketing and communications in her 20+ year career, for both B2B and B2C companies. Follow her on Twitter at @julieogilvie.

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