It’s an all-too-common sight: a marketing “team” made up of disparate people silos working on their own, quietly doing their part of the wider project before passing it on to someone else, often with minimal communication.
This happens everywhere, especially in larger enterprises with lots of people and big, multi-faceted projects. But this can quickly become a problem – and here’s why.
The problem with siloed marketing people
It might feel like when marketing people work in their own teams, focusing on their particular tools and disciplines and really honing what they do, that it can only make the wider marketing department stronger. After all, people are perfecting their craft. While this is true, if those highly honed teams don’t know how to come together, it’s going to cost the company a lot of time and money.
In larger corporate environments, the go-to-market process is already so long and complicated that the traditional Waterfall approach to getting marketing comms out the door just doesn’t work so well anymore. Once, it used to be OK for someone to come up with an idea for a marketing campaign, brief the comms team, work on ideas, and get it going. But now there’s so many more pieces of the puzzle – adtech, data scientists, AI and automation, personalisation and CX, app developers, you name it.
What typically happens is that people spend ages in their bubble working on a great idea, then pass it on to the next team and it falls over. “We don’t have the data we need,” they might say. “There’s not enough customers to make it worth doing.” All the time invested up until that point is wasted, and every minute spent investigating workarounds to keep it going costs money.
Replacing Waterfall with Agile
I’m not necessarily advocating for a complete switch to Agile methodologies, but marketing teams need to make sure that their disparate teams move from this traditional conveyor belt Waterfall approach to a more team-based agile (with a lowercase A) approach in order to remain cost effective in a modern era.
What works better these days is that when a brief comes in, people from across teams sit down and discuss it together. They look at it from a customer perspective, a creative perspective, a data perspective. Then all of the different teams have a vested interest in the project and have voiced any important concerns before any major work has started.
Essentially what you’re doing is creating a little satellite team or squad of people from across your department for each project, with all key stakeholders having a voice. While they may return to their individual pods to actually do the work, they return to this satellite at regular intervals (“stand-ups”, if we’re using Agile terminology) to keep track of the wider scope and stay in close communication.
The outcome? Projects move faster, and turn out better.
Tips and tools to help you bring people together
1. Kanban boards and other workflow tools
You don’t have to make a complete switch to Agile to pick out some of the key features. One great element I like is building a physical board, clearly displayed for all to see, which tracks the progress of each relevant project. You can also host stand-ups around this board to keep those meetings short and to the point.
The board would be split into columns for, say, different teams or project stages, with Post-it notes used to move a project from stage to stage. If you want to look these up, they’re called Kanban boards.
For the digital-savvy team, there are many digital versions of the same thing. At krunch, we’ve been using Trello.
2. Empower your teams
Create an area or meeting room where people can go and work together, and ensure that they have the power to make certain decisions independently. This can give people a real sense of purpose, and enable them to churn through certain tasks a lot more efficiently than if they had to seek approval for every little decision.
Give people the freedom to prioritise, to make judgement calls and use initiative. Your regular stand-ups and digital collaboration tools will help provide a set of guard rails so nobody goes off-track.
3. Build better collaboration
In today’s digital age of remote working and cloud-based services, digital collaboration tools have grown increasingly advanced and can be a real asset to bringing people together.
Slack, Trello, Monday.com, PageProof – these tools are easy to use and help people instantly connect with each other about where certain tasks are in the pipeline, as well as to seek approval and feedback on their part of the task.
4. Don’t forget the rest of the business
Now that you’re bringing your disparate marketing teams together, it’s also a good idea to loop in 0ther key stakeholders across the business – for example, legal and compliance teams, or sales.
These additional stakeholders may hold valuable information, or stand as an immovable gateway that your project has to get past before it can be released. Bringing these voices into the room earlier in your process and keeping them up to date using all the tools and tricks I’ve written about today helps achieve the same things we’ve already talked about – improved speed and better work.