It's commonly understood that as companies grow, they become less entrepreneurial.
Executives avoid risks to avoid failure. Doing nothing becomes the safest path to job security. Every decision is analyzed to death because nobody wants to be accused of having moved too quickly.
But the bigger problem with losing an entrepreneurial approach is the loss of holistic marketing.
How Marketing Devolves to Mediocrity
In a small startup, the brand is well-defined and the marketing department is small enough to talk things through and make sure that marketing is integrated and consistent with the brand.
As the company grows, marketing is divided into silos that no longer communicate with each other.
Here's an Example of Dysfunctional Marketing
Marketer Dana DiTomaso tells a tale in which her marketing firm was brought into a manufacturing company to fix their online paid advertising issues.
Her firm reduced the cost per click and elevated performance to the point where the manufacturer was getting three times the leads with half the spend.
The problem was that customers who bought didn't like the product. Online reviews were terrible. So, the approach of just fixing the pay per click program was ramping sales up but the company had a slow-growing cancer that wasn't getting fixed.
DiTomaso couldn't convince this particular company to look at marketing holistically and make sure that the brand consistently delivered on customer expectations, before and after the sale.
But the experience was an epiphany for DiTomsaso, who used the learnings to refocus her agency on brand strategy and a holistic approach to marketing.
More Than Just Integrated Marketing
When the folks who handle PR, digital marketing, events marketing and other tactical marketing areas are not working together cohesively, it's a recipe for disaster.
But attempts to move to more integrated marketing will often fail if there isn't a strong overall marketing and brand strategy to underpin the transition. There has to be consensus on the core positioning and core messages. There has to be an agreed-upon brand essence that is expressed in every customer touchpoint.
In short, the glue that keeps marketing activities integrated is a brand strategy. It touches much more than marketing…with implications for product development, customer service, finance and other departments that many people don't normally think of as having a marketing role.
This makes obvious sense to me. As full disclosure, I own an integrated marketing agency in Chicago, so I've seen firsthand that marketing silos and a failure to define and operationalize brands effectively often limits company success.
But this isn't rocket science. Every marketing agency or marketer knows that a weak brand strategy is often at the heart of any underperforming company, and that, to be successful, a marketing perspective, brand sensitivity and a consistent brand voice must be brought to every function within the organization.
As DiTomaso said recently while speaking at Moz.com, a popular digital marketing conference: "You need to break down silos not just in marketing but in the whole organization. With a good brand strategy, you can achieve the necessary connections."
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