Sylvia Jensen
Sylvia Jensen 5 October 2015

5 Tips For Marketing Leaders To Bridge Organizational Silos

Here are some best practices for taking integrated marketing to the max.

Marketing used to be easier, wasn’t it?

You’d have one team doing broadcast and print, and another in the back room doing direct mail. That was about it. The “barriers” between disciplines could be breached with a few steps down the corridor.

No more. Esoteric functions like Conversion Rate Optimisation and Behavioural Analytics are 
specialized skill sets, often not even located in the same country, let alone the same office. Yet they can all add value to each other - if they’re truly (to paraphrase David Ogilvy) one department indivisible.

Here are some best practices for taking integrated marketing to the max.

1. Dump Separate P&Ls And Adopt Combined Financials. 
This is where to start: the money. No matter how much lip service you pay to integrated marketing, if you reward each team by the revenue it wins you’ll never break down departmental walls. How can you, when success on this metric depends on not sharing success with others?

So take a long hard look at your P&L. If each marketing function is a standalone profit/loss column - instead of what these functions
jointly bring to your customers - look at how you could configure it to demonstrate what your people add when working together as a team. You may find there’s a heap of hidden value to be unlocked.

2. Organise Projects By Customer Journey, Not Skill Sets. 
To unlock that value, you need organising principles all marketers can agree on. The customer journey is one such principle. Use it to unify your marketers by making it the basis of every new project.

(Ultimately, helping people along the customer journey is the only thing marketers do!)

If your typical B2B customer starts at an advert, then goes to your website, books a webinar, and subscribes to your RSS feed for three months before agreeing a sales appointment, share that journey with your teams. If they’re used to silos, they’ll be fascinated to see where their work fits into the bigger picture - making them more willing to co-operate with colleagues from different disciplines.

There’s a useful side-effect: healthy competition. If everyone notices that one discipline is a bottleneck in the customer journey - choking off leads and conversions - there’ll be huge pressure on that discipline to resolve matters.

3. Make Your Organisation Chart Hub-And-Spoke, Not Hierarchy. 
Give your broadcast team a problem to solve and the solution will be a TV spot. Give that same brief to your SEO guy and he’ll do it with AdWords and metadata. That’s natural behaviour, but it reinforces silos.

What if every project started with triaging, not competing?
Imagine a multidisciplinary person acting as the “hub” of every client relationship - taking each project brief and breaking it down into tasks best met by different disciplines.

This person then briefs the project in terms of how everyone’s work is an essential part of the whole, everyone doing what matters for the customer rather than with one eye on their personal KPIs.

Hub people are hard to find. They need broad experience and an impartial approach to life but the result is golden. Different disciplines work as an integrated project team. No more treating BTL as a poor cousin to mass media; no more SEO guys feeling they’re second fiddle to Creative. When each role feels equally valued for their part in a job, you’ve succeeded in breaking down barriers beyond your wildest dreams.

4. Make Sure Cross-Disciplinarians Get Ahead. 
If your rewards and bonus structures are set up specifically to reward matrix working, you’re on your way to a fully integrated department. Here’s an off-the-wall idea: what if you rewarded your project leads… in inverse proportion to the revenue they keep within their discipline?

It’s radical but you can see the potential. A conversion rate specialist gets a bonus for deciding his project is best handled as a DM campaign. The web team gets cold hard cash for letting the CRO guy redesign “their” website. Wins all round: rewards aligned with doing the right thing.

5. Look For Metrics That Bring Them All Together. 
Once you’ve integrated the financials, make sure everyone’s KPIs and KBDs reflect it. Tease out metrics that deliver best results when people work together. Perhaps apply a multiplier depending on how many disciplines took part in a job.

Or a metric that measures what percentage of your customer journey a single project covered. There are dozens of simple (but effective) measures you can use to drive people together. 

The path may be paved with challenges but the destination is worth it.


  • Make sure your financials and metrics are set up for integrated working.
  • Plan revenue allocation around customer need, not discipline size.
  • Make it concrete. Set rewards and bonuses for people to work together.

For some ideas on how cross-channel marketing can knit your marketing team together, check out the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Cross-Channel Marketing.


Original Article


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