If there were one tactic, one method, one tip that could make the difference between wild success and dismal failure for marketers and PR professionals in 2014 that I’d advocate for, it would be this: the power of a simple beer.
What does this mean? Surely we’re not advocating that consuming alcoholic beverages is the solution to your marketing problems?
If there’s one thing I’ve seen over the past year that has held back more companies, more brands, and more progress in marketing and PR, it’s departmental and organizational silos. IT never talks to marketing. Marketing and PR are kept in separate departments. The PR agency doesn’t talk to the ad agency. The executives just want dashboards so they don’t have to herd the various stakeholders like cats.
As a result, IT works on projects that are delivered to product managers but are completely disconnected from market research. Marketers go off on crazy tangents and create PR disasters. Advertisers spend budgets on the wrong initiatives, on the things that don’t have legs because marketing doesn’t share its data.
Organizational silos are what transforms a once-great company into a mediocre company, and rot away mediocre companies until they’re pale shadows of what they once were. Silos are what allow nimble startups to dance circles around established companies, toppling empires and disrupting industries.
So what does this have to do with beer? It’s not the beer itself but the informal social interactions that can make or break your company. Put IT and marketing together at the office holiday party. Have a lunch over drinks with the PR and ad agency teams. Get everyone together informally, socially, and frequently so that people can meet each other, share what they’re working on, and bounce ideas off each other. The IT team might hear from marketing what’s got everyone’s attention today. The marketing team might hear what’s giving the PR team heartburn.
The pace of change, the pace of disruption, is ever increasing. Companies that lack internal agility will suffer most in an era when collaboration defines success. The power of a simple beer after work across teams and departments is what can break down silos, paving the way for more formal cross-team collaboration, and help your company to be more nimble against future challenges.
Want to go for #Ballsy? Consider inviting a few of your customers along for a drink with your internal teams. Let customers have direct access to the people who are doing the work for them. You might be surprised at how many great ideas come up, and the product/service creators might be surprised at what really does and doesn’t bother customers outside of formalized surveys.
How much are you willing to pay for the next game-changing idea in your industry? How much are you willing to invest to avoid being yesterday’s news? The price might be much lower than you think if you just bring together people in your company regularly and informally: the price of a simple beer.
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology