Working collaboratively on an integrated marketing team is no easy feat. In addition to coordinating the integration of channels — content, search, social, email, offline, paid — you’re also attempting to synchronize people. All with their own goals, expectations, and agendas.
Getting all of the pieces of your integrated marketing team to effectively work together takes some careful coordination. Here are some hacks that will aid in strategy development and foster a creative and collaborative environment so that you can get the most out of your team and your efforts.
Working Together to Identify Drivers
One of the biggest benefits of an integrated marketing team is that all of the channels are represented and working together to develop a powerful, creative strategy. That means you’re going to have all kinds of great ideas that can be leveraged across channels, but it also means that you may have a whole lot of ideas that are pulling in different directions.
Identifying drivers can resolve discrepancies without getting personal. Whether a team member has a great (or poor) idea, if it doesn’t match with your drivers, the team can eliminate the idea without letting emotion get in the way.
You’re going to have all kinds of great ideas that can be leveraged across channels, but it also means that you may have a whole lot of ideas that are pulling in different directions.
Our friends at Story & Heart and Stillmotion taught us this little exercise that’s quick and easy to do (30 minutes or less) and can help your team avoid a ton of conflict as they’re working on filtering strategy ideas.
1) Make a list of words that describe your brand
First, create a list of all the words that describe your company or your brand (or you can even do this for the specific project or campaign you’re working on). These words may relate to approach, values, culture, personality, or your products and services. Here’s an example from Mack Web:
2) Group, filter, and select your drivers
Once you’ve got your list of words, begin grouping like words (circle words that fit together into the same theme). Essentially your goal is to work toward a final list of about 5 “keywords” that represent who you are (or what your project is about). These are Mack Web’s drivers:
When we do this work for our clients, we like to split our drivers between brand and personality (although not all companies will have both).
Brand drivers help guide us as we’re determining direction on integrated strategies. So if we’re considering an edgy or risky campaign for one of our clients, we can go back to the brand drivers and say, “Nope, that’s not really a match for their brand.” The same goes for when a client makes a request for something that doesn’t resonate with strategy or direction. Because the client has approved the brand drivers, it makes it a whole lot easier to have a discussion and defend our recommendation.
Personality drivers are purely for internal use at Mack Web. These are the words that help our team get straight to the core of what we’re trying to communicate through strategy with a client’s brand. Personality drivers also help guide us as we use the client’s voice over the various channels (including content pieces and how we communicate on their social media outlets).
Once you’ve got them developed, provide this list of drivers to everyone on your team. As your team is vetting ideas or developing collateral for design, content, video, social, email marketing, or any part of your integrated marketing strategy, make sure they’re in alignment with the drivers. If strategy ideas or direction is not matching up to these keywords, you may be off track and want to realign both with drivers and goals.
Innovative Strategy Jamming with the Idea Box
When you’re joining forces with a variety of channels on integrated strategies, you’ve got to be creative and also extremely efficient with your time. The more people you put in a room, the more resources you’re spending, and the more quickly you want your efforts to come together.
We’ve found that it’s difficult to be productive and inspire your team to be instantaneously innovative at the exact time of your scheduled strategy development meeting (we call them jams). So instead of coming to the strategy jams to generate ideas, we take the week before to drop our ideas in an “idea box.”
The idea box allows everyone on the team the freedom to be imaginative on their own time, in their own way. Sticky notes, scrap pieces of paper, ads from magazines, and all kinds of creative stuff in different shapes and forms make it into the box throughout the course of the week.
That way, when we finally come together for the strategy jam, we’re not wasting our time trying to come up with creative ideas but we’re building on the ones we already have.
The best part of the idea bucket is that the team has learned not to restrict their ideas to the specific channel they represent. Someone who’s responsible for social strategy may come up with an idea for email marketing. Our content strategist may want to riff off of an idea that was developed for search. Ideas can come from anyone and anywhere, but having the week before the meeting to contribute means a much more productive and creative team, and much more effective integrated marketing strategy.
Turning Strategy into Execution with Hack-a-thons
An extremely tricky yet very important part of integrated teamwork is finding the balance between when you work together to solve problems and when you work individually to get things done (without creating silos). Especially when you’re developing strategy, you’ve got to allow the individuals on your team the space they need to contribute their parts without killing the coordination and synergy that you get from the team working as a whole.
When we’re taking an integrated marketing strategy from ideas (out of the strategy jam) to tactics, we use a “hack-a-thon” where the team comes together to distill the strategy into actionable, chewable, pieces for each channel. From there, each channel can execute the specific pieces and tasks of the strategy that have been assigned to them over the next 90 days.
An extremely tricky yet very important part of integrated teamwork is finding the balance between when you work together to solve problems and when you work individually to get things done (without creating silos).
Here are some guidelines that have helped us to be collaborative, but also individually productive when using hack-a-thons to turn a strategy into execution:
1) Set the intention of the meeting
The purpose of the hack-a-thon is for the integrated team to come together and add in specific tasks, any corresponding details, and timeframes to the strategy so that we all know our roles and can finally put it into action.
When we set up this meeting, the invite comes with all the necessary details the team needs so that they know exactly what will be done during (and also after) the hack-a-thon. This sets the intention of the meeting beforehand so that when we are all in the same room together, we’re not wasting time.
And, much like preparing ahead of time with the idea box, the entire team receives the foundation of the strategy in a Google doc prior to the meeting so that they know the direction of the strategy as a whole, as well as what they’ll be breaking down into tasks within their specific channels.
2) Be collaborative but get stuff done
In order for team collaboration to work, you’ve got to provide enough direction so that when you’re all in the same room, each person knows exactly what is expected of them.
When the hack-a-thon session starts, the team leader provides that direction, reminding the team of goals, drivers, and the higher level vision for the particular strategy we’re distilling. Then the team is then given the instructions for detailing the tasks for their channel’s specific portion and involvement in the strategy.
Because we’re all in the same room together, there’s a whole lot more energy which causes strong momentum. The team works individually, but can ask each other questions without waiting for a response from an email or instant message. This helps to more efficiently flesh out tasks across channels and avoid any duplication or overlap.
3) Limit your time
We limit these hack-a-thon sessions to 60 minutes to respect everybody’s workload outside of these meetings. We go hard for the full hour and although the team may not finish detailing all of the execution tasks for their specific channel and part of the strategy, everyone leaves the meeting feeling productive. If the work wasn’t finished within the allotted time, the individuals on the team can jump into the Google doc at their convenience after the hack-a-thon and complete their part before the strategy is due.
We’ve found that distilling integrated marketing strategies this way really gets stuff done. It’s also a great way to foster collaboration while respecting the team’s need to work in isolation.
Integrated marketing works because you’re bringing the strength of so many people and channels together to accomplish the overarching goals of the company. But collaboration is a learned skill that takes a ton of trial, error, and patience. You’ve got to determine what will work for your team and what will foster efficiency, productivity, and innovation.
Collaboration is a learned skill that takes a ton of trial, error, and patience.
Hopefully these hacks will inspire you to make them your own, challenge your team, and create others that will bring integrated marketing strategy success.