3 Collaborative Practices to Break Silos

More effective work streams across teams, brands, and agencies.

With marketing complexity increasing every day, the urgency and attention needed to reduce your communications and content silos has never been greater. Luckily, marketers have a strong collaborative history of co-creation, so iterative changes in behaviors and discipline isn’t too foreign.

Adopting and adapting collaborative marketing practices is an effective means where teams can come together and begin to break down silos. Updating our practices and routines becomes a strategic advantage that increases our ability to co-create and align across our communications mix.

Part of my role at Opal involves research and analysis of marketing collaboration. It’s a broad and somewhat daunting area of study, as there are many variables to measure across a systemic problem. Some of these sticking points we can’t change easily, things like company culture, hierarchy, or physical attributes like distributed teams or time zones.

In order to focus the research, we first look across the core functions of marketing and measure variables, or key drivers, that we know increase collaboration effectiveness. Core functions include “Strategy & Planning” to “Creative & Production” on across to “Distribution & Delivery”, etc. Examining and measuring the key drivers of Visibility, Alignment and Efficiency gives us an interesting look at the overall effectiveness of the “marketing process”.

Adopting and adapting collaborative marketing practices is an effective means where teams can come together and begin to break down silos.

 

Key drivers of collaboration:

  1. Visibility - Can individuals access work products across teams, agencies and partners?
  2. Alignment - Are practitioners able to pivot against strategy? Is there a shared language?
  3. Efficiency - What obstacles decrease speed or increase churn?

Symptoms of Silos

Beyond the anecdotal evidence and emotional pain that comes with poor collaboration, there are very real and very interesting signals we see in our research.

76% - Indicate poor review & approval processes How is your approval process working? Is it consistent? Regularity of reviews, consistency of approvals, and stakeholder responsiveness are all factors that impact collaboration.

81% - Suffer from poor strategic alignment Does approved content and overall campaigns reflect the original strategy? Even the best strategies can fall apart as one gets closer to execution.

+90% - Report late or up to the last minute campaign launches You’re not alone, but this is a very strong signal we see in the data. But why the last minute scramble? Complexity is a factor, but so are poor communication and alignment.

Practices comprise your Process

To add some context, here’s a quick list of what some brands have put into practice in order to reduce the effects of organizational silos and improve their process:

  • Intel has a weekly content ‘War Room’ that coordinates content, channels, and campaigns across audiences.
  • Starbucks leverages a six-week work back plan across their social channels. Everything from the Pumpkin Spice Latte to the Red Cup campaigns go through this standard process.
  • The New York Times has the famous “Page One” meeting 2x daily to orchestrate a 24/7 news cycle.
  • Wendy’s has an impressive governance process that reviews everything from the table top merch to the video that comprises its drive-thru menu content.
  • Southwest Airlines has developed a “Mobile Newsroom” in order to keep pace with its flyers.

Steal These Marketing Practices

It’s just like riding a bike: You can provide a bit of coaching, and the learner may pick up a few techniques through observation, but there’s no learning to ride except through the act of trying.

The Content Review

70% of marketers struggle with ineffective reviews of content. Even more indicate that their review and approval process needs improvement. Lack of a solid review is most likely killing your process.

Its a basic practice that ensures overall calendar accuracy, visibility of the pipeline and provides the structure for a faster moving team. Effective and regular reviews are fundamental to any marketing process.

70% of marketers struggle with ineffective reviews of content.

 

The Content Sprint

Content sprints provide focus, agreement on high-priority tasks and a rhythm towards increasing your pace of production. They are essentially finite periods of work-time devoted towards a common objective. A time-boxed set of tasks that need completion before a Content Review.

Sprints are ideal for orchestrating omni-channel marketing and communications as they bring together siloed resources who may not be working collaboratively together. We see marketers adopting this practice across B2B and B2C as they are better able coordinate their channels and campaigns.

Story Forecast

Fiscal planning calendars have almost no natural relationship with your marketing. Yet, every year, the Finance Gods demand that we predict the market, plot out significant spends, campaigns, and events.

Luckily there is a growing practice called Story Forecasting. It's a monthly or quarterly exercise where teams take a high-level look at the market, what stories are in market and what stories should be in market.

Want more? Register For Our August Webinar

Join Spredfast in conversation with Opal, Intel & Bonfire Marketing on 21st August as we share first hand methods and practices towards more effective collaboration that run modern brands.

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Bryan Rhoads is a strategist, advanced marketer, and professor based in Portland, Oregon. Bryan spearheaded much of Intel’s online programs, VICE Media’s The Creators Project and currently serves as Director of Strategy for Opal.