Originally Published in March 2014. Updated in November 2021.
– Marketing is a multifaceted undertaking with many moving parts.
– Cloud-based technology, web conferencing, and project management software make it far easier to work with decentralized teams.
– When multiple teams or individuals are contributing to your projects, it’s critical to keep them organized and communicative.
– Consider consolidating your digital marketing work by putting it in the hands of one dedicated team.
Technology like cloud-based document sharing and web conferencing has made it easier than ever to collaborate. And thank goodness! With the pandemic driving many businesses into remote and decentralized working, connectivity is non-negotiable these days. However, it has also led to many small businesses working with several companies to handle different elements of their digital marketing: one team tackling web design and edits while another creates email marketing campaigns, and in the meantime, you internal staff creates and posts blogs, and so on. While this can seem smart – allowing those who are best suited to each task to take it on – and can be cost-effective, having too many hands in the pot can often lead to a dilution or distortion of your original vision.
Think of a large family gathering during which a meal is being prepared. Generally, one person has created the vision for this meal, whether it’s an old family recipe or something they pulled from Pinterest. Now each time this person leaves the room, a different family member walks by the stove and adds something to the pot. Cousin Suzie likes things spicy, so she turns up the heat with some red pepper flakes. Grandpa Sal adds some extra salt. Brother Jeremy is STARVING, so he cranks the temperature on the stove in hopes that the meal will be ready soon. The end result: an overcooked, over-seasoned meal that is nothing like what was intended.
Relying on too many people or entities to carry out your digital marketing can lead to similar outcomes. Digital marketing strategies such as SEM, email campaigns and social media should all work together synergistically to create a whole system that is greater than the sum of its parts. This is difficult to achieve if you’ve developed a simple divide and conquer method. Here are a few tips to ensure true collaboration.
Collaboration Requires Communication:
Be sure to clearly communicate your vision with each and every individual who is working on your digital marketing. Everyone should understand the underlying message, tone, and theme each piece should convey to maintain consistent branding across platforms. Ideally, this should be discussed during a meeting in which everyone is in attendance so you can be certain that each member has heard the same thing and you can clear up any questions or confusion. Also, make it clear that if anyone has questions later on, they should feel free to bring them up. It’s easy for a message to be altered when someone is doing what they THINK you want rather than what they KNOW you want.
Don’t Overdo It:
Yes, communication and collaboration are necessary for strong and effective teams. But there is such a thing as too many meetings. Try to make meeting times as focused and productive as possible to avoid multiple interruptions for your team members. One meeting that lasts 30 minutes may be a better idea than three separate 10-minute meetings throughout the week. Team members need dedicated time to put their heads down and tackle the meeting’s action items, after all.
Regular Status Updates:
No, we’re not talking about your Facebook status. Monthly status meetings should be held with everyone involved to ensure that you’re all still on the same page. You may find that your email marketing and social media teams have started to veer off into different directions. This gives you a chance to make adjustments and realign your overall marketing.
Designate a Point Person:
One person on your team, one who has a deep understanding of your brand identity and position, should know the exact message and goal of each marketing piece. This person will be relied upon to maintain consistency. They can also be a solid resource for other teams or team members who have questions. Whether the point person is you or someone you trust, designating a clear leader can help calm the confusion.
Build in Accountability:
When you have multiple teams or team members contributing to the same project, like your website for example, it’s important to keep track of who is doing what. One of our favorite ways to ensure accountability is to use plugins like Stream, which keeps a log of each edit made on a WordPress website and who applied those edits. That way, if something breaks, looks great, or needs to be revisited, you know exactly who to contact. Google Docs and Dropbox offer similar logs with version histories so you know who worked on what and when.
Work With a Full Service Digital Marketing Team:
At the end of the day, you can ask 5 people to draw you an elephant and get 5 very different elephants. When you work with an established full-service digital marketing team, you can be confident that even though separate people serve different functions on the team (i.e. copywriting, design, programming, and so on) they have all have an understanding of the same vision and work together to make that vision a reality. In addition, communication within established teams is leaps and bounds ahead of ad hoc groups established based on cost. It’s the difference between the Executive Chef, Sous Chef, Saucier and line cooks at a 5-star restaurant creating a meal together and Cousin Suzie, Grandpa Sal, and Brother Jeremy making their mark on the family meal.
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