I’m sure you recognise the symptoms. Endless debates about the difference between ‘sales’ and ‘marketing’; esoteric discussions about whether a business is ‘sales’ or ‘marketing’ led; or vacuous attempts to classify activities as ‘branding’ or ‘marketing.’
In my more naive moments, I assumed that this nonsense had been consigned to the bin years ago. But no! I came across a thread in a small business forum recently in which all these hoary old chestnuts were trotted out yet again. And, even among the current crop of ‘inbound marketing agencies’ (who really should know better), there seems to be a marked reluctance to move away from this negative, hide-bound thinking.
But, apart from providing the opportunity for a good rant…
Well, yes it does - it matters a lot.
Apart from the obvious point that much too much energy, hot air and angst has been devoted to a completely pointless exercise, this silo mentality has resulted in two major problems.
The first is what might politely be termed ‘transactional stickiness’, but there are other, much less polite names for it! We have ‘sales departments’, and ‘marketing departments,’ supported by a plethora of external specialist agencies - ‘inbound,’ ‘content,’ ‘social media,’ ‘digital,’ ‘design,’ ‘PR’ - the list is endless. Each has erected its own, jealously guarded, barriers; the ‘sales, marketing, branding’ spat is one obvious example, but there are plenty of others!
Co-ordinating effectively in such an environment is akin to swimming through treacle. Inefficiencies, mutual incomprehension and destructive, petty jealousies are the inevitable consequence.
Secondly, we have to contend with a crippling narrow-mindedness. Each silo is so busy guarding its professional status that it completely fails to see the bigger picture - the rapid changes taking place in the commercial environment.
And these changes are immense. It's often said that ‘marketing’ has changed more in the last five years than in the previous 50. I agree - and this is coming from somebody who has spent a lifetime warning of the dangers of the unthinking adoption of the next big idea! However, the statement applies equally to ‘sales’ and ‘branding.’
Thanks to the rapid adoption of lean and agile management principles, ‘customer acquisition’ is becoming a measurable science. But, more importantly, it demands lean and agile behaviour. Organisations stuck in a silo mentality will just be left behind.
Let’s start by going back to first principles. I guess we can all agree that the absolute requirement for every business is the ability to win customers profitably. This means having a product that people want to buy. However, it also means being able to guide the potential customer from a position of never having heard of you to make a purchase.
Traditionally, this has involved the application of AIDA (Attention, Interest, Decision, Action) or a variant thereof, plus some combination of general promotion, direct marketing and personal selling.
That might be OK in relatively one dimensional, static environments. A business selling a stable product into broadly defined ‘market segments’ might get away with this approach. However, how many companies do you know that are operating in such a benign place?
But, it's definitely not OK in today’s lean and agile environment. We now target multiple ‘personas,’ travelling multiple ‘buyer journeys,’ using a wide range of methods. And, for the first time ever, we have the tools to measure the effectiveness of these methods accurately. Businesses able to adapt are achieving significant advances. Those that do not will struggle.
However, being ‘lean and agile’ involves flexibility, agility (of course) and open-mindedness - qualities that are conspicuously absent from the ‘silo mentality.’
Our silos need to be demolished! That is why, here at Priszm, we take an holistic approach to ‘customer acquisition’ rather than engaging in pointless semantics.