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Picture this: A football team is about to play its first game of the season. The players are excited. The coach gives his motivational speech, encouraging each player to play his best game. On the field, the quarterback calls the signals, crouches behind the center—who hikes the football before the quarterback's ready. Fumble. The other team recovers and marches a short distance down the field to score.

Getting the ball back, the quarterback calls a pass play. The center hikes the ball. The quarter steps back to throw... but this time can't find the receivers, who are busy blocking because they think it's a running play. What the hey?

Half-time finally arrives. The coach hollers, "What the heck happened out there?"

Players shout out their theories, but no one satisfies the coach, who finally says, "I should've focused my opening game speech on a different topic—teamwork. I don't care who tackled well and who ran well; you're all losers if you can't function together as a team. If one member fails, we all fail."

Marketing team members, as well as services and sales employees, must work together like football players to achieve company goals. Read on for excellent advice on how to work better as a team.

Next Marketing Challenge

How to score search engine points on the cheap.

Click here to offer your advice or here to ask a question.

Current Marketing Challenge

How do I work better with my marketing team?

Despite having a strong professional services group to support our product software, Marketing has a difficult time creating the right messages to support our division's efforts. The team keeps using messages that miss the boat as to features and benefits related to the services we offer. On several occasions, I have tried to meet with the product marketing group to build some awareness as to what we do and the types of services we offer, but to no avail.

We really need to all be on the same page—Sales, Services, and Marketing—with one face to the marketplace, but I'm pretty frustrated as to what else to do to make this happen. What should I do to change this culture?

—Hilda H., VP of professional services

Readers who have been in similar situations say feel that two main activities can help Sales, Services and Marketing coordinate efforts and be more effective:

  • Share information
  • Implement integrated marketing communications

Share information

Changing culture is never an easy undertaking. How does Marketing get its information? If departments are not communicating effectively, start small by simply holding a weekly session to share information. Mark Holdener, account manager with The Vimarc Group, explains:

I assume that a meeting is held in which direction is given to the marketing folks. Do you share a brief that assesses the current situation and required improvements, complete with background information? Do you summarize the conversation had during the meeting? At all points, the one initiating a project should involve the party responsible for the work, including taking into account feedback received along the way. In turn, the party responsible for the development of the work should provide feedback and agree to the strategy and deadlines presented and modifications as needed.

From this point, it should be easy to follow up on the progress of the project. If something goes astray along the way, both parties can refer back to the documentation for the project and nip any problems in the bud. If you are already doing these things, you have a larger problem. In that case, pursue such a problem with the VP of marketing or someone higher up in the chain of command.

Marketing should also get involved at the beginning of a product or service project, when the product team is defining the product or service and developing the requirements. These early conversations explore the market needs and wants, what's already available, and how to differentiate your product/service from your competitor's.

Implement integrated marketing communications

Too often, departments work as silos, concentrating only on their efforts and not seeing what happens before, during, and after their involvement. Douglas Kwong, e-commerce marketing analyst with Allegro Medical, advises integrating all parts of the campaign into one with integrated marketing communications (IMC):

IMC is a system of managing and integrating your advertising, publicity and sponsorship marketing into one marketing campaign. All ideas have the same message when they speak to the consumer or client. As new products/services are brought in, the members of the marketing team should meet and discuss benefits and features that differentiate your product/service from your competitors' offering.

This integration should all start with product knowledge. If you work on a different business model, say you only have a certain number of products and services to offer, then a biweekly meeting within the marketing and product management department can keep the teams in focus. This allows the team to answer the right questions and advertise the proper benefits.

IMC relies on communication. Though most of us have our plates full with meetings, holding regular meetings is a must to ensure success for a product or service.

Next Marketing Challenge: Can You Help?

How can we score high with search engines on a small budget?

My company is a small business with a small marketing budget that matches the size of our business and the number of employees (two). We have a Web site, and no doubt our competitors have better luck with buying keywords to get better search engine rankings. What do readers recommend for those with a small budget who want to improve search engine results?

—Arnold

If you have a general situation or question needing a few hundred brains for ideas, 180,000 MarketingProfs readers are ready to deliver their thoughts to resolve your challenge. Share your question, and you'll get a chance to win a complimentary copy of our book, A Marketer's Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing. To improve the chances of your question's appearing in this column, try to keep it generic rather than specific to an industry.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hank Stroll (Hank@InternetVIZ.com) is publisher at InternetVIZ, a custom publisher of 24 B2B e-newsletters reaching 490,000 business executives.