How Sales, Marketeing, Branding & Digital Dysfunction Are Dragging You Down

Getting sales and marketing to talk to each other may feel like torture, but it has never been more critical – especially for the more than 5 million mid-market industrial and B2B companies in the U.S.

The digital age and a host of technology developments have exposed four major flaws in traditional B2B marketing practices:

• Lack of coordination between brand, sales/marketing and digital activities

• Dedication to sales at the expense of marketing

• The slowness of firms to focus their online voice

• Failure to recognize that the internet has changed the sales dynamic

B2B companies are struggling to leverage the internet to sell and grow. Unlike consumer product companies, they’ve been slow off the mark in the digital race due a traditional but flawed rationale that branding and digital communications can’t really help their ‘relationship’ style of selling.

What’s become glaringly obvious is that three core marketing functions – brand, sales/marketing and digital communications – don’t behave as if they have anything in common. Worse, they don’t work together to build equity, share of mind, customer loyalty, or sales for B2B enterprises.

The open secret always was that sales and marketing were never really very integrated. In some firms, they didn’t even like or talk to each other. Not to mention that in many B2B firms, ‘sales and marketing’ actually means ‘sales.’

But because the internet has made company ‘walls’ ever more transparent, there are few secrets. Employees complain, whistle blowers whistle, bloggers gossip, e-mails get forwarded, the news media investigates, and your customers actually know all about you – your product benefits and even your prices – before you ever hit their door. So what are you actually selling?

When a company’s brand, its sales force, and its digital activity aren’t in lockstep, customers notice. At best, customers scratch their heads at this lack of coordination; at worst and more commonly, firms are losing credibility, customer satisfaction and opportunity because they can’t get their act together.

In 2014, Forbes Insights published, Breaking Down Marketing Silos: The Key to Consistently Achieving Customer Satisfaction and Improving Your Bottom Line.

Forbes noted that the challenges with marketing silos mean:

1. Each silo may have its own brand vision, creating a disjointed experience and message for the customer.

2. Team incentives may motivate some team members to exploit and damage the brand in order to boost short-term sales.

3. Poorly integrated teams suffer from inadequate cooperation.

4. Silo interests stand in the way of programs that require scaling.

5. Key growth areas such as digital are not scaled because they are dispersed across silos.

6. Success in one silo is leveraged slowly into others, or not at all.

And not listed, but in the mix: Inconsistent customer experience across divisions and functions.

The good news is that with the right market data, the marketing function is uniquely positioned to lead the charge for integration in the name of better service to the customer. Forbes pointed out why marketing is primed for a leadership role in integration:

1. Marketing brings an outside point of view.

2. Marketing can articulate the unique truth of the company and what differentiates it within the marketplace.

3. Marketing can communicate the product and value-why products are relevant to customers in different ways, identifying segmentation in the market.

4. Marketing creates compelling stories for rallying employees and making an emotional connection with customers.

5. Marketing is a strategic seat at the table; there is no other department that can see such a company panorama and bring those perspectives together.

To overcome the silo issue, the report concludes by offering best practices for CMO’s:

1. Replace competition and isolation among silos with communication and cooperation.

2. Consolidate when necessary.

3. Act as a facilitator, establishing frameworks, encouraging collaboration through teams and knowledge hubs, and upgrading marketing talent.

4. Think like a consultant: create company-wide insights, train marketing talent and participate in strategy development.

5. Secure access to the C-suite. Teradata found that marketers with executive responsibilities are almost twice as likely as others to believe that there are no barriers to interdepartmental integration.

6. Force integration. In Teradata’s study, marketers say the best way for marketing to become more intertwined with other functions is to set up integrated processes.

For some firms, these are lofty marketing ideals. But there are practical steps smaller companies can take to force different thinking and action. But there are practical steps smaller companies can take to encourage different thinking and action. One is to use research and market data strategically – know the customer better than anyone else. A second step is to stop planning functionally and start planning via a ‘communications & experience canvass.’ What does the customer need to feel, see and hear? How do we ‘behave the brand?’ Who is responsible for delivering that? What are the methods for delivery?

In short, turn the silos sideways. With this framework, suddenly a lot more people see and serve their responsibility to serve the customer – including functions such as accounting, help desk, order fulfillment and e-commerce managers, and the c-suite.

Selecting Online Content Marketing Service Providers Made Easy

Have you wondered why? In the search for the ‘content gold,’ marketing service providers are ‘heading west’ as more businesses continue their shift towards the creation of their media programs and launching content marketing dominance.

Many types of this are fighting for a content dominance or trying to ‘ride the wave’ to content marketing deliverance.

Still, there are some content marketing agency truths that you must know to explore where it’s all heading!

Most content marketing agencies don’t market content

Yes, it’s a hard fact to swallow that most organizations don’t market with content at all. Marketing organizations are infamous for concentrating on sales-led marketing campaigns where sales relationships and cold calls rule.

Lack of patience or the lack of resource, whatever you may cite the reason, agencies offering content services rarely create great content that attracts and sells and assist to in retaining their base of customers.

Business Lessons – Before you are about to hire online service providers, make sure to dig deeper into their previous work and examine if the content generated serves the purpose or was just to satisfy ‘me too’ blogs that you can find everywhere on the web.

Most SEO agencies don’t know the ABC of content marketing.

Google is smart, and it’s almost impossible to game the system. Getting found through search engines has more to do with incredible storytelling that everything else.

Today, many SEO companies want to divert the entire focus to this marketing, why? The reason being beside real SEO tricks drying up and the value that they used to offer to customers who used to be huge was not the same anymore.

Many SEO companies are in the same position and are making the switch swiftly. Others have left content marketing nickname for their SEO content creation service and calling it text marketing.

Yes, it must be stated that they have added services such as video production, infographics creation, blog content creation, but you must note that content creation is a small part of that services.

As a result, strategic planning elements of audience private gathering, internal content integration, mission statement creation, analytics and measurement outside of content consumptions metrics are missing.

Business Lessons – A comprehensive planning will fulfill many organizational goals. SEO is just a small part covering a few marketing missions. As a result, ensure that this strategy goes beyond the primary funnel considerations.

Most content marketing agencies are concerned about planning and not execution.

It is a good thing that you plan, strategize your content planning, but for who long? When will you correctly implement it in practice to see the projected results? Only planning and not executing to know the results means draining down all efforts.

It is happening with a majority of the online content marketing service providers. What’s more, even some content planning document showcases the recommendations that less content is produced or also stopping of the content program altogether.

Now, with this type of thinking, you can only assume where will these agencies land and in what state?

Business Lessons – Even if you have hired online text marketing service providers just for the content execution, also ask them an executable text marketing strategy. It will help you know what your agency knows about your industry and how they plan to serve the audience because content delivery is more natural than drafting a content strategy.

Most content agencies still consider content marketing as a campaign

Organizations need to understand that unlike any other marketing types, It is an ongoing process and without an end date. It must not be considered a campaign at all.

When you consider content marketing as a campaign, you work for its execution and success within a defined time frame which is a wrong approach.

This is an ongoing process which your online content marketing service providers need to work on full throttle and without an end date to leverage success gradually.

Business Lessons – Keep away from online these service providers who term as ‘campaign’ and not a ‘program.’ It is crucial to do because an agency is terming it a campaign will work for it for a short time and not consecutively.

You just need to come out of the shell that this is only a small part of marketing. No, it has a large chunk of its credit because the more you will invest in a ‘program,’ the more your business will evolve over the time to get the success that your services and products genuinely deserve.

Digital Marketing Degree at UofM Dearborn

I am currently enrolled as a student at the University of Michigan Dearborn College of Business. My majors are Digital Marketing and Information Technology Management. I think the weight of this duel degree will carry a special edge upon entering the business world. UofM Dearborn was one of the very first schools to offer this specialized degree in Digital Marketing. It is important to understand how this degree is different than a normal Marketing degree and the ramifications it will have for the business world.

Why is this degree so important? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the market research analysts and marketing specialists increase in number is at 32% expectancy during 2012-2022, surpassing the national average of merely 11% for other professions. This is clear evidence that not only will jobs in this field be available, but businesses will be actively seeking out candidates to fill these positions. Commonly, a business faces a dilemma when looking to hire digital marketers. They must either hire a person skilled in regular marketing that must be trained extensively or they must hire in a seasoned digital marketing veteran that requires a much higher salary. Businesses instead will now be looking to fill this void with students that have this pertinent degree.

More and more businesses are moving their marketing campaigns to focus heavily on their online platforms. The perks of marketing this way are more extensive than merely reaching a wider audience than other marketing means. Online marketing allows for real time analytics to be transferred back to the people running the campaign. This allows the business to alter and change their campaign as they see fit. Also, in this day and age information is king. Digital marketing allows for companies to collect their own information and data free of charge.

Here at the University of Michigan Dearborn, we have classes that focus mainly on digital marketing and are supplemented with traditional marketing courses. These classes range from learning how to rank a webpage on the first page of Google to processing and transposing data analytics in a meaningful way. The core classes required for the digital marketing major are as follows:

  • Digital Consumer Search and Marketing
  • Communications Strategy and New Media
  • Digital Analytics and Content
  • Marketing and Research
  • E-tailing and Retailing

From here a student must also choose two of the following classes:

  • Managing Electronic Commerce Systems
  • Understanding Consumers
  • Marketing Management
  • Global Marketing and Consumer Culture
  • Database Systems 1
  • Advanced Computer Applications

All of these requirements are in addition to the normal classes needed for a Bachelor’s in Business Administration.

The uses of this degree are endless. A person with this degree is equipped to handle social media pages, website management, content management, digital analytics, etc. With everything going digital these days, it only make sense that marketing will continue down this path too.