February 23rd, 2023

With Digital Marketing, the Stakes Matter for Everyone

Author: Eric Lynch
Eric Lynch
Partner & Director of Business Development

Customer Service, Sales, HR, IT—a successful digital strategy needs buy-in from all departments.

When you hear the words “digital marketing,” what springs to mind? Social media? Paid advertising? SEO?

All these are facets of a digital marketing campaign, but the term encompasses much more than that—namely, anything that involves how your business presents itself in digital spaces. That includes your brand, your website, the emails you send, and the materials you create to educate your audience, qualify your leads, support your customers, or attract new employees.

In a sense, digital marketing has a finger in every pie (by which we mean department). We wrote recently about how siloed digital communication is letting you down. But breaking those silos apart requires the attention of your leadership team, as well as buy-in from your other departments.

That’s no easy task. After all, siloing happens because it’s easier for each team to focus on its own priorities. But buy-in does happen when each group understands what’s in it for them. When your departments recognize the stakes involved, they will more readily give digital marketing initiatives the time, consideration, and resources for those campaigns to be a success.

So, what exactly are the stakes for your departments? Let’s break it down for you.

Leadership: Establish brand messaging and strategic direction.

Good leaders are effective delegators. They understand when a task shouldn’t be their main concern, and then find competent people to handle it for them. Following this logic, many business owners will delegate digital marketing tasks to their marketing team, and then only check in for a periodic report on how things are going.

Ninety percent of the time, this is an ideal situation. However, there is a risk if a leader becomes too disengaged from their marketing campaigns, especially if the messaging on the marketing side becomes disconnected from the business decisions being made in the C-suite.

Marketing needs to be in step with the goals and vision of the company, and that requires input from the company’s leaders. The marketing team should be trusted with the creative execution of the marketing plan, but ultimately that plan needs to be in support of the company’s priorities, as determined by leadership.

Sales: Identify resource gaps and streamline the lead handoff.

The sales department is not for the faint of heart. With targets to hit and the financial health of the company depending on their ability to close more work, the pressure to perform can create an environment that can leave the sales team feeling like they’re on the front lines with no backup.

Well, let the marketing team be the reinforcements. Sales teams often have specific needs that go unaddressed, leaving them to fill in the gaps on their own. Your sales team needs the flexibility to customize their pitch to niche audiences, but they also need brand support so that those materials look professional and polished.

Whether it’s a PowerPoint pitch deck, a conference brochure, or a sell sheet, the marketing team can make sure those resources are up to the brand standards—and even offer new strategic ways to use them to draw in leads.

The collaboration should go both ways. Sales has a lot of deep knowledge about the customer base that is essential information for the marketing side. They know what messages resonate most strongly with their leads, where the strongest sales are, and what characteristics define your audience. In short, your sales and marketing teams working closely together will achieve more than either can operating apart.

Human Resources: Recruit new team members and celebrate employees.

Digital marketing should be one of your company’s lead recruitment tools. Most applicants begin their job search through the Internet, and attracting candidates who are a good fit is the same process as attracting a customer audience. If your HR team is struggling to catch the attention of the right hires, marketing could lend a hand.

When HR isn’t busy trying to qualify the first round of interview candidates, much of their energy goes toward meeting the benefits needs of company employees, mediating conflicts, and supporting the company culture. While a lot of this work involves essential administrative tasks, some aspects also require broader messaging—company culture initiatives in particular.

Again, marketing can provide much-needed support. Culture goes hand-in-hand with the company brand. The brand may dictate what the company aspires to be, but the culture represents what it is. Marketing can help these stay in alignment by using brand resources (such as the company website or social media) to promote the culture (by sharing employee success stories or showcasing team-building events).

Customer Service: Address FAQs and relieve support pressure.

Every good business understands that current customers are their most important relationship. While growth happens by recruiting new clients, businesses are sustained by the people who keep coming back. And when it comes to retaining loyal customers, customer service are your MVPs.

Because of their direct contact with current customers, the customer service team is often a treasure trove of valuable customer information. All too often, however, they’re sitting on that knowledge because no one is asking for it.

By tapping into the customer service team as a resource, your marketing team can learn more about customers, help create materials to educate clients, and lift the burden of repeat questions. Customer service interactions can also be an opportunity to gather client testimonials, which make for excellent digital content on social media. Sharing good reviews is a great way to give your team a high five while also establishing social trust with potential clients.

IT: Take an item off your plate which no longer belongs there.

In the early days of the Internet, assigning the company website to the IT team made sense. These were the individuals most likely to have the skills to build and maintain a website, and they handled that responsibility well. Maybe too well.

Over the past couple decades, two technological shifts have changed the logic behind leaving IT responsible for websites. First, the integration of technology within companies has exploded, adding to the workload placed on the department. The second and parallel development is the expansion of the Internet itself, which is now more accessible (and more pervasive) than ever before.

Building and maintaining a modern website has become a specialized skill—one which many competent IT professionals are familiar with, but don’t themselves possess. As a result, too many IT departments are saddled with a responsibility which they no longer want to manage, and which must often take a back seat to other projects that are their direct concern. Moving the website into the realm of digital marketing is an opportunity for IT to pass the baton.

Investing in your marketing team means giving them the resources and feedback they need to be effective.

Your marketing department exists for a reason. With the right support, they can not only attract more customers to your business—they can also relieve your other departments. And when they are effective, the results will be felt by everyone:

  • Leadership will have the satisfaction of seeing their top-level communication better reflect their strategic direction.
  • Sales will notice an increase in the quality of their leads, and will have the materials to close them.
  • HR will have new resources to promote company culture and attract new employees.
  • Customer service will field fewer repeat complaints and be better equipped for their support calls.
  • IT will have more availability to devote toward internal projects such as network safety, compliance, and hardware and software maintenance.

Of course, it’s not necessary for each department to be involved in every digital marketing initiative. That would be counterproductive. Our point is that each department can—and should—have a stake in digital marketing campaigns, and this happens by building internal connections so that everyone’s needs are met.

Our own team accomplishes this as the first step in our onboarding process. We sit down with team members across departments and talk to them first-hand about the needs they have and how we could best address them. Then we bring that feedback into our marketing meetings, determine how to prioritize those requests, and incorporate it into our overall messaging.

Through this work, we’ve watched companies flourish as the unaddressed needs of various departments are finally met. That’s because ultimately, all these things have an impact on the bottom line—tangibly or intangibly. When your whole team recognizes what digital marketing can do for them, they invest in its success. With that kind of alignment and cooperation, the results will be felt by everyone.

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