When working in a large company, the one term constantly repeated is ‘alignment’. Considering the number of organisations within, it seems absolutely crucial to speak a common language, plan together and ensure that the one team does not overlap their activities and plans with another, but rather fulfils them. People talk about alignment relentlessly, but how much of it is there and to what extent is it possible to achieve in large companies?
It is fully understandable that each team within the company has different priorities around which they shape their strategy for a defined period of time. Business groups and sales face some mutual challenges, however, there is a long list of those that are specific for each of them. Marketing, especially in the B2B sector, needs to address all of those challenges that concern the consumer facing area.
Sounds pretty simple and it probably is in small and medium companies, where each organisation consists just of few people. What about large companies with complex product portfolios, operating in various markets, addressing their solutions to a wide range of industries and the whole spectrum of customer sizes? Their business groups and sales teams consist of much more than just a handful of people. Is it possible to find a common ground and satisfy everyone in such a scenario?
It is definitely a challenge but the one that’s necessary to accept. Without proper alignment there’s a danger of addressing not only the same customers but even the same decision makers at the same, or very close, period of time. And that’s where the marketing role comes into place, after all, marketing team needs to ensure customer satisfaction.
It’s not just about events and meetings but also about any kind of communication with customers. Modern B2B marketing is no longer focused only on trade shows and workshops. They surely are an important component of the integrated marketing plan addressing the entire customer journey, however, they are not the only one. The XXI century B2B marketing also operates online. The dialogue with customers does not necessarily have to be a face to face one, it happens through online chat, webinars, available online content, or more directly – on the phone.
Keeping all of that in mind this magical ‘alignment’ enables the marketing team to plan and adjust the appropriate approach to all of the customers that should be reached. It prevents over-communication and irrelevant content sharing. It provides the marketing team with the necessary intelligence to perform successfully, not only in their own eyes but also in the eyes on the customers and business organizations. In large companies especially, where the information flow chain is much more complex and takes much more time.
However, it is crucial to remember that it takes two to tango. The marketing team will not be able to attempt a successful alignment if there is no will from the other organisations to contribute. And why wouldn’t there be? The idea seems natural but the old-school perception of marketing as a merchandise storage might be one of the reasons. It is undoubtedly still a common view of the marketing team in some companies, which makes the successful alignment even harder.
What to do then? Fight the stereotypes, break the misconceptions, open conversations and reach out first. Not all of the organizations may be willing to start a dialogue at the beginning, not all may have the same planning timelines and it may not all turn out to be a success at the first attempt but at least it will be the step forward. Perhaps it’s not entirely possible to have a full alignment within large companies but a partial one is definitely better than none.
Patrycja Ziembicka, BMC Guest Blogger
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