Why one + one is not proper integrated sales and marketing

Today I will discuss four commons silos that if not handled, will perpetuate the glass ceiling that often impedes true integration.

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Originally Published PR Week, August 12, 2011 (subscription access only)

The old adage, "I'm from Corporate and I'm here to help" is well understood for what it implies: Corporate help is an oxymoron.

It doesn't have to be.

But research indicates that a sizable gap remains between the value Corporate practitioners believe they deliver to their companies and the perception of those practitioners who reside in business units.


The principal driver of this disconnect is the certainty with which Corporate practitioners believe it is of strategic importance that all employees know of and appreciate the work of the total enterprise, and the equally certain perspective that business unit practitioners believe the overwhelming focus must be on what is most relevant and actionable and, therefore, must be about their business unit.

What to do?

Let me preface five tips I have to share with an acknowledgment of a bias: I believe there is a strong role for Corporate.  But executing it successfully takes equal measures substance and style.

Here are five ways in which Corporate can succeed:

Define your role and earn grassroots support... What's your purpose as it relates to the businesses? Strategic guidance?  Talent management? Leveraging scale to achieve optimal cost efficiencies? Driving big enterprise-wide ideas? What are the needs in the units in which Corporate can make a meaningful difference?

Be high value...Corporate practitioners usually play two roles: one is executing purely corporate activities (e.g. investor relations; executive communications; etc.) and the other requires some level of inter-dependency with business units (e.g. reputation initiatives; CSR; digital strategies; marketing support; etc.).  In this latter category, Corporate ideally is an advisor and co-strategist. To earn its place comfortably alongside the business units, Corporate practitioners must be the best, most qualified practitioners in the company for the niches in which they advise.

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The integration philosophy is born from seven concurrent trends (for more on this, stay tuned), but the challenge is that each "one" tends to function in its own differing ways. In effect, true integration often stalls very quickly because we look for limited bridges between one or two areas in our organization, versus looking for customer-led moments where we can test, prove and broadcast the value of integration across a much wider gamut.


Seven drivers of integration:

1. Wastage: Marketing is increasingly under pressure to show ROI. Integration portrays much less of a “waste-oriented mantra” than channel-only or share of voice (driven by awareness activities).

2. C-suite lexographic shift: Increasingly c-suites talk about customer journeys and pathways. These views need a more customer-based lens. Integration offers a logical step towards achieving this by talking about combining elements through the journey.

3. Online makes it much easier to track and act faster: Social and digital allow you to track activities in near real-time. This means it is a touch easier to monitor, or at least correlate with simple regressions. For example, what happens when activity A and activity B happen together or in sequence? It is about measurable baby steps to some (apologies for misquoting Bill Murray in the film What About Bob).

4. Budget shortsightedness: SOX forces a lot of late-in-the-quarter investment models and it rarely gives marketers time to roll out large, complex programs. Integration offers a simple process that feels closed-looped enough to quickly justify a change in short-term available funds by the next quarterly scramble. It feels a little like trench warfare (a few inches at a time), but it is the reality of where we are, especially in U.S.-led organizations.


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Why one + one is not proper integrated sales and marketing


"Integration" is a hot term driven by a combination of seven environmental factors. I contend that "integration" means creating a consistent experience across the customer's interaction with the brand. The challenge is that it is often siloed into one-on-one situations that aren't tracked. For example, a customer service agent on the phone might not know that a customer has tried to return an item to the store three times.

The true catalyst of integration evolves around understanding and embracing the value of a customer's engagement. Experience and evidence shows us that the fully engaged digital and social B2B and B2C brands are the only ones that can fully deliver the promise of integration. Without embracing this philosophy, organizations appear somewhat doomed to poke around the promise of integration.

Digital and social brands that embrace integration reap far more benefits from customer journey-based integration because they get the double-edged opportunity to react faster to market changes, and gain insights ahead of the competition. This is based on managing the customer's journey and leveraging social and digital as the engagement mechanism.

A Set of POVs to Drive Your Future

In a series of points of views over the next few months we are going to walk through what it takes to be truly integrated, and not just with one or two functions, but across a wide range. We have seen evidence in best practices that the pressure to do social and digital "right" is even greater than before. A limited perspective (one + one) will miss the wider and more effective opportunity.

One + One is Not Really Integration

Integrated online and offline, integrated online and social, integrated sales and channel, integrated media and marketing, integrated communications and brand: These are the marketing (and sometimes sales-based) marriages, especially inside B2B, we increasingly hear about. We call this integration, the integration of one + one. One function plus another bonding together at some point in the customer's journey. This is a start, but it really is an old world way of thinking and taking advantage of integration.

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In counseling a new CEO recently on the importance of the First 100 days, we encountered a familiar challenge.


The CEO’s organization, while successful, needs change. Old attitudes and outmoded ways of doing things have become encrusted, and the first hundred days represent a unique opportunity to break those molds at a time when change is almost universally expected and the organization is likely to be most receptive to it.

At the same time, skeptics within the organization are likely to doubt the new CEO’s fidelity to the organization’s core principles. They will almost certainly (though incorrectly) view the change as undermining those principles – and, though they surely won’t admit it, threatening to themselves and to their careers. These skeptics are especially likely to be clustered in a part of the organization most closely associated with carrying out the organization’s mission, and physically separated from the corporate headquarters.

This isn’t unusual. Consider, for example, the skepticism with which journalists at the Wall Street Journal greeted Rupert Murdoch’s takeover, or the people at IBM first reacted to the first CEO to come from outside the company. And, to be fair, the skepticism isn’t always unjustified.

In situations like this, one of the most powerful tools in the new CEO’s arsenal is symbolism. All CEO’s have a mandate for change – some more than others, to be sure, but studies show significant change, especially in strategy and in the leadership team is almost universally expected.

But some change is especially symbolic, and either by design or by accident will send a powerful and lasting message. It’s vitally important that the new CEO seize opportunities to send these symbolic messages, and avoid sending the wrong ones inadvertently. And don’t confuse “symbolic” with “superficial.” It is the substance of these key actions that makes them symbolic.


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