If you’re like most marketers, you’re probably at the nexus of many different groups, functions, and tasks. In fact, most marketers take in and distribute information from all across the organization. When launching a campaign or initiative, a marketer often sits downstream from other groups, seeking the information and resources necessary for a launch.
For example, a marketer might coordinate with the following groups to get a campaign out the door:
- Product: to inform what is being launched, how it was built, and why
- Engineering: to support technical aspects of the launch
- Creative: to guide the brand direction and/or create images and video
- Sales: to verify how customers think about the need and what they need to know
- Executive Team: to gain buy-in and possibly facilitate buy-in from the board
At the same time, this marketer also sits upstream from other groups that need information and resources to do their jobs well. Marketing might work regularly with:
- Support: to coordinate on what’s being launched, when, and where to find documentation or share feedback
- Customer Success: to ensure that existing customers are made aware of product updates and have the resources they need
- Finance: to support campaign costs and manage revenue sharing (when necessary)
- Sales: to ensure the right sales collateral exists and that it frames the problem and solution in a way that appeals to prospects
- BD/Channel Sales: to ensure partner companies know of the campaign or launch, as well as relevant details that pertain to sales
With all these different stakeholders, it’s no wonder that 60% of marketers don’t even have time to go to the bathroom. Not to mention that fact that the number of communication channels has increased over time. As channels have proliferated, we all struggle to keep up and even to find the pieces of information we need.
Given the abundance of stakeholders and the challenges of synchronous communication, it becomes increasingly imperative that a marketer must not only hone her marketing chops, but she must also hone great communication skills.
Why Effective Communication Matters
Well, first, there’s the whole going to the bathroom and not living in mortal fear thing. But also, communication and project management can truly make or break you. I’ve seen entire campaigns get scrapped because the right people lacked the right information at the right time. After surveying over 10,000 marketers, the Marketing2020 report cites that the highest performers (based on revenue growth vs that of competitors) excel at navigating complex communications. Ineffective communication wastes valuable time and resources, due to misalignment.
This complexity is further exacerbated if you’re working with external stakeholders. If you’re launching a co-marketing campaign, not only are you tasked with rallying your team, but you also have to get your partner company on the same page and make sure they have the information they need to get buy-in.
Furthermore, what if someone gets hit by a bus tomorrow? It’s a morbid thought, admittedly, but to be less sinister, what if someone simply takes a new job? Or what if they have to go on an unplanned medical leave without any notice? How well are things documented? Would someone else be able to pick up where that individual left off?
This approach is worth it even for your future self. You save yourself time context switching and ramping back up when you have to revisit a project or process. Whether you’re the person who comes back a month later looking for documentation on that campaign, or whether someone else inherits the task, make life easier by communicating and documenting everything properly.
How Teams Can Communicate More Effectively
Standardize to Drive Repeatable Results
Intelligent marketers know that, if a campaign goes well, you may want to replicate it or launch a similar campaign down the road. Therefore, create standardized ways of doing things. Not only will you become faster by systematizing your work, but your team and the teams you collaborate will come to know what to expect from you.
Make sure you document things really well. When I brought a new BD person onto my team at Wistia, she had access to an inventory of project plans from past co-marketing efforts. She could also see the timelines and action items from each project, allowing her to run similar co-marketing campaigns early on in her role. Share your documentation with others to gut check whether you’re communicating effectively. Better yet, try to have someone perform the process without you, using just the documentation. This has the side benefit of helping your company or team become a “learning organization,” since it becomes easier for others to learn from past experience, even if it wasn’t their own experience.
Invite Openness and Feedback
Be open with information, and share it in an easy-to-access place. Ideally, you should document things in a knowledge management tool that allows others to ask questions, give feedback, and make suggestions. Parking your idea in a Google document might seem straightforward at first, but it’s unlikely people will be digging through random Drive files and folders. Furthermore, Google documents are always in a draft state. Your teammates may not know if the document is finished or if they’re looking at the most up-to-date version. Instead, leverage a wiki that everyone can contribute to and navigate painlessly.
Exert personal Grit to Get Others on Board
Last, you may need buy-in to nudge your company towards better internal communication. Some organizations prefer to keep information within insular pockets. Others may simply lack awareness that there’s a better way of doing things. Try taking the reins and documenting things yourself; share with others, and at the end of the campaign, ask them if the project felt easier because they had access to more information. You may have to put in some elbow grease, personally, but your future self will thank you.
What You Can Expect to See
Not only will you see a happier future self, but you may also see happier teams around you. People will feel less stressed, knowing what’s expected of them. Good internal communication creates clarity and helps people feeling blindsided by last minute requests. In fact, when the Harvard Business Review spent three years investigating what makes for a great employment experience, “candid, complete, clear, and timely communication” was a top-ranked factor.
Better internal communication can ensure things run more smoothly, eliminating duplicate work or gaps. A smoother process may also lead to better campaigns and more successful initiatives. By helping your team operate more effectively and efficiently, you’ll free up time for other things. As a mentor and friend, Chuck McGonagle, once told me, “communication solves almost everything.” Here’s to better communication and more successful companies!