Rally around Marketing Goals: Break the Silos

By C&EN Media Group

With many departments working independently, it is often a challenge for science marketers to get everyone to work together efficiently and productively. Here we’ll discuss how to communicate effectively and ensure that everyone––from marketing, R&D, engineers, and sales––is bringing their individual strengths to a project, and helping you fulfill your marketing communication goals.

Silos, independent business branches with little outside communication, occur because people are experts in their own areas. Each business unit or function interacts primarily within its own silo rather than with other groups across the company, allowing for increased specialized skills and effectiveness. But silos can also cause a lot of problems, especially when decisions need to be made. Sound familiar?

In order to reach company goals, all players need to coordinate their efforts, reach a consensus and align to a single vision.

It often falls on marketers, particularly in scientific companies, to get everyone on the same page for coordinated decisions around communications – whether it’s a new product launch, planning tradeshow activities, or running a new ad promotion.

Appreciating Strengths

Each functional silo – sales, marketing, R&D and engineering – brings unique strengths to the table. Fully utilizing these combined skills results in an integrated marketing campaign that clearly communicates product benefits, speaks to your audiences’ specific problems, and converts readers into customers.

Failing to integrate can result in a disjointed campaign – the product is described poorly or inaccurately, leads are low quality, and sales disappear into thin air.

What key pieces of information and unique insights about customer acquisition can each team contribute?

Marketing
Marketers are the people ultimately responsible for assembling and distributing a campaign.

Key expertise:
• Knowledge of product positioning and company brand
• Experience distributing a message via print, digital, and social channels
• Appreciation of progression through the buyer’s journey

Key challenges:
• Producing high-quality leads
• Understanding technical aspects of product features

Sales
The sales team converts leads into customers. Sales therefore has the clearest picture of the characteristics that make leads high quality.

Key expertise:
• Closing sales and generating revenue
• Deep understanding of customer pain points
• Knowledge of factors affecting lead quality

Key challenges:
• Selling to leads at the appropriate stage of the buyer’s journey
• Prospecting

R&D/Engineering
Especially in science, it is critical to include engineers and R&D professionals in the planning process. These people work with the products and services regularly, and have the best understanding of how they work and what they can accomplish for the buyer.

Key expertise:
• Unparalleled understanding of product features
• Appreciation of product function and addressed challenges

Key challenges:
• Communicating product benefits instead of technical features
• Understanding all market forces, outside of their area of expertise

Communicating Across Silos

Internal communication is critical if you plan to make use of the full range of skills at your disposal. Incorporating input from each silo at every step of the campaign has two enormous benefits:

1) It creates a comprehensive, integrated and effective campaign
2) It makes everyone feel heard, reducing intra-organization conflict

Because it sets the tone for the entire project, the initial planning stages are the most critical point to gather information from each team. Have meetings or phone calls and to start, copy everyone on emails; this can be a slight burden, but it’s temporary and will pay off in the long run.

science marketing silos Before creating campaign messaging, be sure to confer with experts and team members to ensure that the product is well represented. Ask for their perspective and then actually consider it. Continue checking in with team members as the messaging develops. Everyone will feel more valued if they see evidence of their input, however small, in the final product.

Check in with sales teams at the beginning of a project to gather insights based on their experience, but especially stay in touch with them once the campaign has launched. Are you generating high-quality leads? Did the customer refer to a particular message that struck them? Staying attuned to these questions and being prepared to adjust a campaign based on this feedback can have a major impact on conversions. Find ways to share information regularly so that all parties are able to meet goals. Set up weekly meetings if necessary to review campaign progress and plan.

Taking it one step further, invite each team to take part in the content marketing process. If they are able to create content, either by writing it themselves or by being interviewed on a topic, they can offer valuable insight for the intended audience.

You can go beyond these methods as well. To fully involve key stakeholders, create additional lines of communication. Consider:

• Shared Communications – Internal team communication is important, but can also be exclusionary. Create shared email lists and calendars that allow stakeholders to stay informed of the group’s activity and thought process. Many organizations, for example, are using services like Slack that provide real-time messaging to streamline communication among teams.
• Surveys – Surveys offer snapshots of prevailing opinions. Because they are anonymous, contributors are free to speak their mind and raise concerns. Just make sure your questions are geared toward driving conversation forward, not just providing an outlet for people to vent.
• Interviews – Groups are prone to groupthink. One-on-One interviews both reduce the potential for groupthink and make the interviewee feel that their opinions are valued and being considered.
• Joint Training – Everyone can benefit from more learning. Conducting relevant trainings with a mix of team members is a way to include everyone in a collaborative activity.
• Social Engagements – Lunches, celebrations and office parties build camaraderie. Once team members know and like each other as people, they are more likely to collaborate and communicate effectively. And if the campaign is a success – there’s certainly a reason to celebrate!

Marketing, sales, R&D and engineering professionals bring a variety of skills to the table. Effectively communicating across silos and incorporating each team’s strengths results in stronger and better-converting marketing efforts.

We want to hear from you:

Do you have tips on how to build a team or project across departments? Share your success stories with us below.

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