A Sureshot and Inverta Webinar Conversation

Meet Your Marketing Synchrony Panel

David York – Founder and CEO of Sureshot, a technology company that relies on software integrations and services to achieve marketing synchrony and run coordinated, cross-channel, data-driven campaigns using the tools in their martech stack.

Kathy Macchi – Vice President of Consulting at Inverta, a B2B services company that is focused on executive-level advisory regarding demand creation, account-based marketing strategies and activation,  and marketing technology.

Ashley Shailer – Vice President of Marketing at Inverta and webinar hostess and moderator.

What Is Marketing Synchrony?

Ashley: Marketing Synchrony is built around the idea that marketing is more impactful when it is coordinated to achieve a shared outcome. However, many marketing departments have trouble pursuing marketing synchrony. A few reasons for this include engaging in activities that are not connected to the pursuit of a common goal or shared outcome. The growing trend of a distributed workforce also plays a role in the disconnect. While synchrony should be a common goal across all marketing functions, from project planning to activation, and beyond; today we are focusing on how synchrony impacts the activation of campaigns.

Organizational Barriers to Synchrony

The primary issue all barriers to marketing synchrony share is that they force marketers to focus more on what they are doing instead of the outcome of what they are doing.

Barrier #1 – A Lack of Defined Goals

Kathy: This issue starts at the top with unspecific goals being given by business leaders. For example, someone might say, “Our goal is to do $25 Million in sales this year.” The problem with this approach is that if you don’t get specific about where you expect to get your revenue, then every group and department in your organization will interpret that goal differently. The demand-gen team may think the $25 million is going to come from net new; another team may say think it is coming from the current customers; and still another team may think it’s coming from different product mixes. This lack of a clearly defined goal typically leads to what I call “random acts of marketing.”

Barrier #2 — Failing to Define Who Is Responsible for What in Each Campaign

Kathy: I think everyone has good intentions and wants to contribute, but unless you coordinate who is going to perform each role in a campaign, you end up wasting efforts. Again, making it a priority to define goals will help you get coordinated with regards to team roles.

Ashley: Kathy, what is your perspective on the fact that not all parts of an organization get the same support and attention?

Kathy: While it is fair to say not all products are created equal, you need to make everyone feel important in selling their product. Yes, you are accountable for P&L (profit and loss), but people need to know that their product is going to be taken care of. If everyone agrees that a certain product is where the company expects to get its revenue from, then there won’t be unrealistic expectations from other groups. This is actually more of a sales issue than a marketing problem, because if sales has defined a product goal, then marketing’s priority in supporting that goal is clear.

Ashley: David, talk to us about the need for seeing progress and having accountability in marketing and also tell us how accountability measures, like reporting, sometimes play a role in misalignment and fragmented activities.

David: To Kathy’s point, it’s important to know the hierarchy of what’s valued in an organization. When it comes to reporting, you need to know who owns the lion’s share of the data that is critical to demonstrate performance. Every marketer is tasked with justifying the output of their activities and justifying the choices that have been made, and there has to be a coordinated effort on both the data and technology side in order to do that.

We work with a lot of companies that try to coordinate campaigns across a variety of areas, and the silos that exist in an organization oftentimes align technically. One of the most common examples is your web team and your digital team vs. your campaign team and automation team. There’s not only a need for personnel to coordinate, but there’s a need to collaborate organizationally and technologically. The person who owns the website needs to get together with the person who’s running the campaigns.

There’s also a critical need to coordinate things at the data level because the analytics and insights that you want to use will not be valuable if all your data is siloed across your organization. You’ve got to have collaboration in order to achieve synchrony across these teams. Otherwise, you’re not going to be able to demonstrate the value you provide to the organization. To get to the positive outcome you are seeking, you almost have to reverse engineer at the organization and technical level to be able to gauge the value that marketing is bringing to the organization.

Ashley: Yes, it’s so important to be able to gauge the value that you bring to your organization. The culture of reporting has made many marketers myopic in that they focus on very specific reports, but those activities are often disconnected from the bigger picture.

Kathy: I think we, as marketers, spend too much time trying to prove the value of marketing instead of improving marketing as a whole. We get bogged down in having to show why an email campaign or social post justifies our existence and this is a waste of our time, effort and expertise.

For example, my brother, who is a transportation engineer, said, “If you made the subway free, it would be cheaper to run.” The reason is because of the tremendous cost of infrastructure — the systems, accountants and money-collectors— it is all so expensive and time-consuming. As marketers, we spend so much time trying to prove our value. It takes a minimum of one week to produce a Quarterly Business Review (QBR) and then another week to go over it and half your time is spent pulling all those numbers together. This is not achieving synchrony. It is just a massive effort to prove that you did something.

Ashley: I think this is a culture issue, too. Our culture is into Cover Your Ass (CYA), and this is sad because it leaves little time to dream and strategize. I think skill specialization is a result of asynchronous marketing. Kathy, can you talk a little bit about skill specialization and how it actually works against marketing synchrony.

Kathy: I don’t have the silver bullet on this, but sometimes when I am working with an organization they will ask, “How do I set up my demand-gen team?” Then the questions become: Do you do it by solution, or top of funnel, or by acquisition? Or do you look at it as: I have a person who does webinars well and another person who does media well, etc. I ask, do you really need one person on your team who does one thing well or is that something you should be outsourcing? Naturally, if someone does something really well, they are a flight risk for moving up or moving on. I think it’s critical to look at the things you can outsource. We don’t even think about why we outsource PR or media, we just do it. I believe there are other functions of marketing that we can think about outsourcing, too. This allows an organization to become more performance based. In making coordination (marketing synchrony) doable, think carefully about what you can outsource and what’s essential to keep in-house.

Ashley: David, what’s your view on skill specialization?

David: We work with a number of customers on activating new channels, and sometimes they would tell us, “We don’t really have the expertise in-house to manage or take hold of the full potential of this channel.” Of course we know these channels inside and out, so we said, “Look, we have the technology to activate this channel and we can help you do this.”  People feel comfortable sending email, but when attempting to do a mobile or SMS campaign for the first time, customers may not know the best practices for these channels.  When this happens, we lend our customer success team to them to aid them in successfully implementing the channel and its processes. This provides a lot of value to our customers.

If you think about skill specialization from an organizational standpoint, it’s always about ROI. However, martech is constantly evolving and so you get in a pattern of constantly learning and training others to use specific skills and there’s a lot of movement that happens. Outsourcing helps you prepare for the ebb and flow of specialized talent. In today’s market, there’s not enough knowledge in some categories for every organization to have an expert on staff. The bigger question to ask yourself is do you need that person on staff or should you outsource it? Is bringing a particular skillset in-house something that makes economical sense or is it smarter and less risky  for turnover to outsource it?

Ashley: Something I’ve heard you say before that I really love, David, is that specialization doesn’t scale in an organization. It’s good to outsource.

Audience Question: How do I tell my CEO that the time being spent on churning out reports could be better spent on being productive?

Kathy: Unfortunately, there’s no easy way out of reporting because it is a good tool for building trust. Most leaders in an organization did not come up through marketing. Our job is to educate them on what’s important and what they need to measure to understand marketing’s value because they genuinely don’t know. Here is an example of where it is really important to have specific goals. Then, your focus becomes how are we going to report our progress on these things? Unfortunately, if you hate pulling reports there’s no easy way out.

Ashley: You could call up David York and his team.

Kathy: You’re right, they should call David. David, this question is yours!

David:  I think from a technological perspective, the challenge when anyone tries to tackle the problem of reporting is that there’s no one size fits all. There’s so much nuance in each organization’s marketing and hierarchy of value. Even if we have a process that gets you 70 percent of the way there in terms of generating a report, sometimes it’s the 30 percent that really acts as the icing on the cake and makes the reporting valuable.

We work with customers doing reporting projects, and we’ve got technology (from an infrastructure standpoint) that is able to pull the data for these reports. We also layer some of our other capabilities as we look at things like seeing how much of the process we can automate. Here, the goal is to see if we can shorten the time it takes to gather all of this information into a useful format from one week to a day.

One of the biggest problems in marketing is the explosion of martech, the constant need for reports, and the monstrous amount of time that managing it all takes. We get sucked dry before we even get a chance to think about marketing synchrony because we are so busy killing ourselves to make strides in all the tactical areas. All of this occurs because of the disconnects we have at the data and technical level. The reason why so many marketers are bogged down by many manual processes is because there are gaps in their technology preventing them from being more productive with their time and energy. In most organizations, there are so many gaps and disconnects that marketers struggle to get their heads above the water so they can focus on things like how to coordinate things better.

Biggest Organizational Barriers to Synchrony Recap

Unclear Roles and Responsibilities

  • Be clear about who owns what
  • Defined roles bring better accountability
  • Create a culture of communication

Myopic Measurement

  • Lack of good dashboards
  • Failing to show the impact of omnichannel

Skills Specialization

Marketing functions are known for what they do instead of the outcome they are working to achieve, i.e. “the SEO person.”

Tune in Next Week

Don’t miss Part Two of: How to Create Coordinated Campaigns With Marketing Synchrony! Ashley, Kathy and David will discuss the differences between synchrony and agility in marketing, and how you can work toward building synchrony across all your marketing activities.