Fast Company

Why Integrated Marketing Makes Me Shudder

I've been spending a lot of time with disappointed executives who mistakenly assumed that integrating the marketing department would revolutionize marketing and dramatically improve customer acquisition and relationship management.

More than a few of these executives (especially the ones on the hook for the technology ROI) are now fighting to keep their jobs.

Were they wrong about their investment in CRM tools? No, but that may not help much.

These executives are now steeped in the knowledge that truly integrated marketing can only be driven out of a truly integrated organization. Creating such an organization spans beyond the marketer's area of influence and control and stands in the way of improved experience and customer-centricity. A lack of organizational integration also impedes effective collaboration and frustrates the sales and marketing process.

An integrated organization recognizes that Marketing may own the packaging, positioning and promotion of the brand, but the delivery of the customer experience is owned, controlled and managed by many contributors across departments. These include marketers, product managers, customer service representatives, service agencies, analysts, sales people, store managers, agencies, channel resources, IT staff, merchandisers and others.

The integrated organization creates an efficient infrastructure that coordinates these "experience agents" to strategically plan, develop and deliver (collaborate) positive customer experiences. Unfortunately, while many organizations have invested in delivery tools, most organizations do not have an effective people, process and technology infrastructure that effectively enables collaboration and integration. In most cases, the marketing infrastructure (and all related inter and extra departmental activities) is actually quite unmanageable, and uncontrollable.

Most commonly, an organization's experience agents are cloistered within organizational departments based on role. Each department may have unique process and/or priorities that may conflict, overlap or compete with other departments. Add common organizational problems such as a lack of accountability, inefficient process, poor standards and fragmented communication, you've got an infrastructure that won't readily support integrated marketing.

An integrated organization steers corporate activity toward a central point on the horizon, demanding that every experience agent assume ownership in driving customer acquisition, satisfaction and retention. Integrated organizations standardize metrics and leverage cascading analytics models to view cause and effect on a level playing field. Most organizations today suffer from a true lack of standards, metrics, measures and clouded views of true customer metrics and experience.

Even in today's most successful companies, it is common to find individuals who aren't positioned to pull together toward the finish line. In fact, many disagree on the direction of the finish line; some aren't even in the boat; and a significant few don't even know they're in a race.

CRM tools are extremely valuable for the coordination, delivery and measurement of marketing and sales activities. However, traditional CRM solutions rarely help coordinate, facilitate and help track or manage cross-departmental strategic planning or the development of the integrated experience. Planning, integrating, coordinating, managing and tracking these elements is critical to driving integrated outcomes and the type of collaboration that will create the integrated experience.

This is part of the reason MRM tools are becoming increasingly popular: Executives must make the enterprise more effective, manageable and integrated. It's the only way to get folks rowing in the same direction, in a coordinated fashion.

Both Jeffrey Cufaude and Gautam Ghosh have submitted thoughts on collaboration today. As a litmus test, I'd ask: How many of us feel "meetinged to death" on a regular basis? How many of us spend more time leaping operational and organizational hurdles than doing what is right for the customer? Today's operational models have got to evolve to drive better, more effective and more meaningful collaboration. The long version of this article, which contains information about MRM solutions was originally posted on my blog at at www.livepath.net.

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