How marketing is driving the new rules of collaboration

by The Smartsheet Team

Effective marketing requires a team of teams within and outside of your organization. While the marketing staff members take the lead, they rely on insights from other departments, such as finance, sales, customer service, and IT. Add in agencies and independent contractors, and you’ve got a lot of players contributing to the success of your marketing department. 

With remote workers, global offices, and distributed teams, it can be easy for organizations to become disconnected. However, marketing’s broad reach across functions fuels a strong need for collaboration within companies. 

A Harvard Business Review study found that collaboration within organizations can lead to improved productivity, profitability, and customer satisfaction. And a Stanford University study found that just thinking about collaborating can motivate people to work on a task 64% longer than if they were working alone. 

In order to foster connection—regardless of location, function, or affiliation—marketing leaders need to set up teams with practices and technologies that help them work together and respond to the changing needs of the market. Here are the four steps to take to set the stage for collaboration.

Break down silos across teams — and systems of record

Each department in an organization collects its own data and insights. For example, customer service may get product questions that could be valuable for messaging. The finance department would have profitability metrics that could drive which products to feature more prominently on campaigns. And the IT department has access to technology that can measure customer behavior. A study from McKinsey found that CMOs who work closely with their organization’s IT department reached company goals more successfully and grew revenue by 10% a year.  

These insights often live within departments, stored in specific software, and aren’t shared or used to foster collaboration. To serve customers effectively, marketers need to leverage the valuable knowledge that exists across the entire organization. That requires leaders to get rid of cross-functional silos using a centralized platform that gives everyone access to real-time data from multiple sources and unifies teams across the organization. Once the silos are torn down, teams can act together and take advantage of new opportunities in the market. 

People talking in an office setting

Unite teams around a common goal

Leaders should encourage their teams to work across department lines. Instead of viewing themselves as separate teams with separate goals, the different functions of an organization are important partners that should be working in unison. One shared goal is to boost profitability so that the business stays in business, and each department plays a unique role. 

Companies are also in business to better the lives of their customers, which is usually reflected in its mission statement. Patagonia, for example, is working to save the home planet, while Facebook's mission is to bring the world closer together. 

Shared goals and missions can help employees feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Yet, some organizations overlook the importance of this step. In a survey by Harvard Business Review (HBR), just 28% of respondents felt connected to their company’s purpose, and only 34% thought they were strongly contributing to their company’s success.

Leaders need to clearly state an organization’s common goals and mission. This information should be transparent and readily accessible to employees so they can use it to drive their decisions. 

Acknowledge individual strengths

While uniting employees around a common goal, organizations should recognize that each team member’s talents are unique. By identifying and measuring strengths, leaders can combine skill sets in ways that generate the best results during collaboration.

The HBR survey reports that only 39% of employees can clearly see the value they create for an organization. It’s important that leaders regularly acknowledge the work employees do and give them credit for an organization’s success. When employees see the importance of their personal contribution, they are often motivated to do their best work. 

Understanding unique strengths and talents can also help leaders upskill workers. Leaders can make the most of the talent on their teams by using a dynamic work platform with resource management to manage skills and resources. Not only can this help identify the best person for the job; leaders can track availability to ensure the best use of resources and time.

Smartsheet Strategic Plan dashboard

Invest in the right technology

When it comes to technology, the marketing department often leads the way by staying up to date on new innovations, testing and tracking new tools, and constantly improving best practices. Yet, cross-department collaboration around a shared goal is only possible if the entire organization invests in the right technology and tools that support it. 

In today’s remote or hybrid world, employees are working in different locations. Where they once came together around a conference room table, today’s employees rely on chat apps, email, or video calls for collaboration. Unfortunately, these tools are disconnected from the actual work, making it hard to keep track of information, and opening the door for redundancy or missed opportunities. 

Equipping teams with cross-department technology can provide the path to collaboration. According to a study by PWC, 87% of high-performing projects use project management software. Leaders should choose a solution that helps coordinate efforts to best manage resources, provides visibility, offers context around goals, and serves as a single source of truth. 

Working within a dynamic work platform that gives everyone visibility can also be a powerful way to create accountability. Leaders can assign tasks to specific marketing team members and identify action steps and outcomes to keep people focused and on track. 

Collaboration requires strong communication — and communication is what marketers do well. By breaking down silos, uniting around common goals, and leveraging the strengths of individual team members, organizations create a culture of engagement that can help them meet the changing needs of their customers.

Learn more about how Smartsheet for Marketing can help you and your teams collaborate with each other and unify critical data across platforms to best serve your customers.