Aligning Corporate And Marketing Goals For Success

by | Sep 1, 2016 | EduSocial Blog, Strategy | 0 comments

Silos are fairly prevalent in many businesses — heck, Machiavelli predicted their existence way back in 1513 — and, unfortunately, ‘alignment’ is not as prevalent. Consider the chart below, from an article on Harvard Business Review entitled “Only 8 Percent Of Leaders Are Good At Both Strategy and Execution:”
Top Leaders Effectiveness

We’ve now arrived at a problem. Namely:

  • Many organizational leaders have a hard time aligning strategy (the big picture) with execution (the day-to-day tasks that people work on)
  • Many organizations are organized silo-by-silo, instead of as a cohesive whole

The intersection point of these two problems creates challenges for social media management. Let’s review a few of the main issues that arise here, and offer some strategies for dealing with them.

The role of marketing

Depending on what type of company you are and what type of product/service you sell, marketing can be a massive factor in your company — or it can be barely existent. Slack, a collaboration tool, got to a $1 billion valuation in 2 years without a standard marketing team. The first challenge for many organizations is simply determining what, exactly, the role of the marketing team is. Marketing is usually where social media management resides (although that can also vary), so having an understanding of what marketing does — and how that’s measured — is important.

A way to address this: At its most basic level, marketing is a support function for sales. It provides content and context to help sales do their job. This definition can vary by industry, yes, but some of the most successful teams take the goals of marketing and the goals of sales and align them. That way, the top decision-makers on each side have a major incentive to work together, create cross-functional teams, and beyond. If sales and marketing are judged by totally different measures, it’s very hard to do effective marketing.

The alignment of corporate goals with marketing goals

This ties back to the above. Oftentimes, a CEO will tell a CMO something like “Your job is to protect the brand” or “Manage the brand.” That is an all-encompassing definition that can mean 50+ things to 50+ managers. If you look at the chart above, you see the issue. The strategy of an organization — its path to its goals — is typically set at higher levels. But even in startups with 10 employees, there are more people around than just the highest levels. Some people need to come in and do the actual work that pushes towards the strategy. This is where alignment is crucial. If people are working on tasks day-to-day that don’t align with the strategy, then what is the point of those tasks?
Here’s a case in point on social media: oftentimes, the ‘strategy’ around it will be something like ‘Drive business growth’ or ‘Develop new customers.’ But then someone who works on social media management will spend all day scheduling random tweets or saving images into a folder. The strategy part is not aligned with the execution part, and that lets social media happen in a vacuum. Customers and potential fans won’t respond well to that, because they’ll receive a disjointed experience on social compared to other ways they interact with your brand.
A way to address this: Come up with three goals for social media within the context of broader marketing goals. For each goal, have a way to measure it. For example, a goal might be ‘Acquiring new customers’ and the measurement might be ‘100 new visits a month to the website from a social channel.’ That’s a modest goal, yes, but it’s a place to start. If social media has three goals tied to marketing’s goals, which are in turn tied to the company’s goals, you’re on the right track.

Priority Management

Aligning goals — social to marketing to company overall — helps a lot with priority management. In that context, your social media manager can come in on a random Wednesday morning and understand “These two things are what I need to tackle first, because they are important to the team and the business.” Without priority management, any manager in the company can essentially go to your social media manager and claim they have an urgent project which needs attention right this second. (This often happens to social media managers, as other people don’t completely understand the role and need someone to help them with something.) Priorities come from understanding goals and knowing what you’re being measured on. Without that link, work — and especially newer work, which social media is at most companies — can become confusing.
A way to address this: The social media manager should meet with his/her direct boss every two weeks (24x/year, give or take). They should run down goals, ideas, projects, timelines, and deliverables. They should work to prioritize those for the next two weeks, and then the boss should encourage check-ins if anything gets confusing or priorities shift. This helps keep social media on track in terms of real priorities, and not just tasks.
What other ideas have you seen work for aligning corporate goals with marketing goals, or helping social media managers to prioritize their workload better?

social media strategistTed Bauer is a freelance writer, editor, and marketer based in Fort Worth, Texas. He’s originally from New York City but has lived in many different U.S. cities. He’s worked for companies as diverse as ESPN, PBS, the Houston Independent School District, and McKesson. He blogs daily at The Context of Things.


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