If your company is like most, it’s probably not “peaches and cream” around the office every day. In fact, research recently done by my firm, McKee Wallwork & Company, indicates that 59% of companies are experiencing some internal discord. As a CMO or Marketing Director, you may complain about internal problems like infighting or the lack of clear direction from the management team. These types of issues may make your job more difficult and more stressful, but they also negatively affect your customers’ experience with your brand.
Think about that for a minute. The internal dynamics of an organization do have an impact on its external marketing efforts. Our extensive research among struggling companies proved this. Strong brands with equally strong marketing techniques are more aligned on the inside (think Apple, Starbucks, and GE). On the flip side, brands that are suffering are also experiencing problems within the organization (think Blockbuster, RIM/BlackBerry, and, most recently, JC Penney).
Why does this happen? This occurs because a brand’s value is driven by the collective efforts of the company. If the executive team (usually made up of various department heads) can’t seem to agree on things, everyone suffers including the people responsible for external communications — those who build relationships with current and prospective customers. A lack of internal agreement leads to confusion on how to go to market and communicate effectively with your target.
We’ve found that there are four internal dynamics that lead to building a successful brand and implementing an integrated marketing program. They are:
1. Consensus among the management team around a clear business objective.
2. Having the nerve to aggressively pursue a narrowly defined target audience.
3. Maintaining focus on your distinct brand identity.
4. Consistently going to market with a similar message across all customer-facing aspects of the organization.
If you’re a marketing leader that thinks your company needs improvement on any of these four things, it’s up to you to take a stand and help fix them. One way to do this is by conducting a retreat with all department heads where you can hash out each item, step by step. Or you can write a strategic document that addresses these items and get buy-in from each officer within the company. If these methods don’t work, it may be worth the investment to hire a third-party consultant to help you work through the issues.
As we’ve counseled many businesses that suffer from internal chaos, we know how it can impact a brand’s performance. Trust me. It’s worth fixing things now before it’s too late.
Emily K. Howard, a marketing strategist since 1997, developed her skills at some of the country’s top marketing firms including DDB Worldwide, while working on brands like American Airlines, Pepsi, Bloomberg and Merck. Now as Vice President of Esparza, Emily’s integrated communications approach helps clients find order in marketing chaos. She’d love to hear from you and can be found on LinkedIn or @ekhoward on Twitter.
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