Achieving success requires that your marketing operations and sales enablement dovetail together. However, that’s often easier said than done. For many organizations, fragmentation creates multiple disconnects that force customers away, rather than drawing them into the funnel, and technology meant to tame those problems often exacerbates them, instead.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Many organizations today struggle with the effects of fragmentation within marketing operations and sales enablement.
Where might fragmentation rear its ugly head, though? In this post, we’ll dive into what you should know.
Few things are more critical to your success than brand consistency. FuseBox One defines that as “how an organization delivers messages aligned with its core values, brand promise, customer experience, and brand identity elements.” Let’s break each of those down further.
Your core values are things like a commitment to honesty and transparency, a drive toward innovation, or a belief in clear, direct communication. Your values should inform all of your messaging, from social media posts to PPC ads, and everything in between, including internal communications. It’s important to both your public perception and ensuring that employees can function together as a team.
Your brand promise is what you imply your customers can expect to experience at every touchpoint. Think about Apple – their promise is clear. Customers can expect a polished, professional, personal experience. They can also expect surprising integration throughout Apple’s product portfolio, offering a more streamlined experience. What is your brand promise? What is it that you imply your customers will experience and are you living up to it?
What’s your customer experience? Is it consistent from touchpoint to touchpoint? Does it build the relationship with your brand and lead the customer further down the sales funnel or, after the sale, into brand advocacy? Are customer experiences consistent from interaction to interaction? If not, then you’re already beginning to experience the effects of fragmentation. A fragmented customer journey leads to a disjointed experience and often fails to convert leads to sales.
Brand Identity Elements
What elements define your brand’s identity? There’s your name and logo. You have business colors, as well. However, these go much deeper. The very font you use for communications ties into your brand identity. Other examples include:
- Theme lines
- Packaging design language
- Brand personality (as communicated through identity elements and more)
Bringing all these elements together into a single, cohesive whole is challenging, but essential. If you fail to do so, your brand consistency plummets, as does your ability to build trust with clients or customers. Why does that matter?
Simply put, the decision to purchase is more emotional than practical, and the vast majority of consumers report that if they don’t trust a brand, they cannot buy from them. Complicating the situation is the fact that almost all purchase decisions are made subconsciously.
So, how are you supposed to maintain consistency? While difficult, you can walk this tightrope by ensuring that you use the correct colors in your design and marketing language all the time. Failure to do so means you’re sacrificing brand recognition, but also losing revenue. Remember, it only takes 0.05 seconds for consumers to form an opinion of your organization, and ensuring that it’s the right opinion means mastering core values, brand promise, customer experience, and brand identity elements.
Your Technology Stack
Every organization requires the right combination of technology today to be successful. You probably use a wide range of tech tools – Zoom, Trello, Slack, and Airtable are just the barest fraction of possibilities. Technology promises better connectivity, improved productivity, accelerated communications, and so many other benefits. When that occurs, it’s a great thing.
The problem is that technology does not always enable benefits. Sometimes it’s an anchor around your neck, dragging your organization down. If you are unable to get your team on board with using the new technology, it will not only deliver no value but will cause fragmentation and problems within your organization.
SHRM points out, that, “User adoption…still lags behind leaders’ goals, and with the move to remote work, there is growing pressure on organizations to get employees to adopt tools critical to collaborating, messaging, and learning from a distance.”
Answering the question of why adoption lags is important. While there are different answers for some organizations, most face one of two issues or even both issues at the same time. The first of these is the fact that leadership communication did little to encourage the rank and file to adopt a new software system. The disconnect appears to be in the way that leadership communicates regarding the change.
There is little focus on why the new software is being implemented in the first place and what adoption will enable for the organization as a whole. Instead, leadership tends to focus on change management, which while important, is not enough to get employees, including managers, onboard with the need for the new system in the first place. When you consider that most people are resistant to change in the first place, and change for change’s sake will always create negative emotions and prevent buy-in, it becomes more obvious why this lack of accuracy in communication has this effect.
Training is another major problem. Combined with advocacy from leadership, training is one of two supports traditionally used to increase the adoption of new technology. Why does training hamper user buy-in?
It’s not so much that training doesn’t increase adoption as it is that problems with training and its rollout cause confusion and lead to frustration. Some of the training-related faux pas organizations often face include the following:
- Poorly implemented training that does not cover enough to answer users’ questions or provide them with a working knowledge of the software.
- Training that is not specific to how the software ties into specific job responsibilities or departmental goals. Without this connection, it’s hard for employees to see the benefits of the new software for them, their team, or their department.
- Training is too lengthy, which results in employees falling behind on their regular duties. This is often a failing of HR or leadership to plan training accurately while ensuring that day-to-day operations within the business can still occur.
- Training is tied to computers in HR, lacks any mobile component, and has not been modernized to suit the needs and expectations of today’s employees (think gamification, access from their smartphones, etc.).
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Wasted Time and Effort
When one of your employees needs to create marketing collateral, is the process labyrinthine? For many organizations, something that should be a simple matter, such as designing a trade show banner and then ordering enough for the year can feel like it requires an act of Congress. This leads to fragmentation and challenges, cost overruns, late deliveries, and more.
The problem here is not so much the in-house process for creating collateral and managing marketing material printing and distribution. It’s more related to the number of hoops employees must jump through to accomplish what should be simple, mundane tasks.
The truth is that even small businesses may deal with dozens of vendors. Medium-to-large organizations work with 90 or more. Very large firms may work with 100,000 vendors on a regular basis.
Let’s use a more concrete example. How many vendors is an employee required to deal with in the process of designing, creating, printing, ordering, and then distributing that tradeshow banner we mentioned previously? One? Two? Five? With each increment, the complexity and time required to accomplish a seemingly simple task increase exponentially.
It’s not just vendors that we need to address here, either. You can easily include technological platforms in that discussion, too. For instance, maybe you use Trello for task assignment and monitoring, Microsoft Teams for wider communication, Asana for project management, and then regularly communicate via Zoom meetings with teams, departments, and across the organization.
These tech platforms don’t dovetail with one another necessarily. Employees must navigate each user interface, learn how to deal with the various idiosyncrasies, find ways to transfer information between platforms, and so much more. It quickly becomes frustrating and time-consuming.
The critical factor for organizations is to find ways to reduce the number of applications and vendors they work with. For instance, dealing with a single vendor for printing and distribution of marketing materials can save your team members an enormous amount of time (and sanity). That can then be reinvested into mission-critical tasks crucial for business growth and success.
With a consolidation of vendors and technology platforms, it becomes possible to increase productivity and efficiency, reduce lost and wasted time, and decrease the time and cost related to creating and distributing marketing materials.
Not Connecting the Dots
When you create marketing materials, what happens to them after they’re used? Are they discarded? Stored against the need for future use? How much return do you see on each investment?
These are likely difficult questions to answer. What’s more, you may find that no one in your organization has the answers, either. That’s because up to 70% of B2B organizations (and an even higher percentage of B2C organizations) never even use the marketing collateral they create.
The failure here isn’t so much one of lost money, as it is a lack of business intelligence. Without having access to this information, it is impossible to make informed decisions. That leads to wasted time and money, a reduced ability to compete in your industry, and a fragmented presence in the market.
A viable solution allows you to connect the dots and see the bigger picture. This goes beyond answering questions of whether that tradeshow banner from last year was stored or thrown away. It’s about determining your ROI on marketing materials in the first place. After all, it takes up to eight touchpoints to generate a viable lead, so if materials are being retired before their time (or not used at all), there’s more at stake than lost ROI. You’re walking away from leads without even trying to convert them.
Your level of Personalization
What’s the single most powerful tool in your toolbox for building stronger relationships with customers or clients? Personalization. What’s more, the vast majority of consumers prefer to interact with personalized content, whether that’s through social media, email, or some other format.
The problem is that a significant majority of brands still struggle with personalization. It’s not just finding the degree of personalization necessary to foster trust, but simply finding the information required to personalize marketing collateral in the first place. Finally, many organizations also face problems dealing with legal compliance issues as they relate to marketing materials and personalization.
Without personalization, your marketing efforts are crippled. The answer to challenges related to data accuracy, personalization-enabling technologies, and finding the data you need in the first place is to choose the right partner.
Fragmentation can cost you money, time, market share, and brand loyalty. If you’re unable to maintain brand consistency, cannot connect the dots with your marketing collateral, are unable to personalize your marketing message correctly, don’t have employee buy-in for new technology in your stack, and are still forcing team members to jump through hoop after hoop just to complete simple tasks, chances are good that you’re experiencing those outcomes firsthand.
The good news is that fragmentation doesn’t have to spell disaster. It can be tamed. It just needs the right approach. Check out our presentation on the Impacts of Fragmentation within Your Marketing Operations and Sales Enablement to learn more. Understanding the challenges you face is the first step. Only with understanding is progress possible.
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