Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What I Saw at the Direct Marketing Revolution

As readers of our blog, I know that you will love this Facebook group. It was started and is managed by our buddy, Robert Rosenthal of the Mothers of Invention fame (he also writes a great blog called Freaking Marketing). The group has recently grown to the 700 member mark -- pretty outstanding for such a young group. If you haven't yet joined the group, you may want to take a look -- I'll bet you'll love the exchange of information between direct marketers from all over the world.

I'm featuring it in today's post because of a really compelling discussion thread that's been going on for the last couple of months. Robert sent out the following idea for the consideration of all group members:

Knocking Down Organizational and Cultural Barriers

Organizational and cultural barriers are often among the biggest obstacles marketers face. Common issues include:

- Bosses who embrace command-and-control techniques
- Staffers who operate under counterproductive agendas
- Managers who act as protectors of the status quo
- Senior managers who fail to budget for innovation
- Environments that discourage bold experimentation

Yet some marketers find ways to do groundbreaking work – even in organizations not known for innovation. What techniques have you used to break through organizational and cultural barriers?

Well, did he ever evoke some great reactions on this topic!
The first replies started out by talking about the simple fact that companies need to be able to communicate better. It's true -- we've all been there. Marketing doing things in secret and hiding what they are doing from IT because their view is that IT will most assuredly stop all forward progress. Sales seeking out their own better-qualified leads as opposed to using those that Marketing supplies them -- because in their view, Marketing simply doesn't "get" who the customer is, therefore, they feed them lousy leads. Leadership cuts Marketing budgets because they view Marketing only as a cost center and refuses to take the time to review strategy with Marketing prior to cutting. In fact, I've been in environments where all three of these have occurred in the same company. What a mess!

By the way, if any of these groups sat down and actually listened to each other, perhaps there would be some forward progress, better understanding . . . all of which would all result in better decisions that would benefit the entire business.

But I digress . . back to the Direct Marketing Revolution! So, after everyone determined that communication is definitely key to barrier-busting, then there were those responses that got into the nuances of communicating effectively. One responder talked to how it is sometimes difficult to get your opinions and viewpoints listened to because there are often those opinion-leaders who almost always prevail in every meeting. Yep, been there, too!

How do you effectively get your opinion stated in a room full of opinionated and passionate people? It's tricky -- for communication, you do need an open forum, and you need to allow everyone to state their views. The trick is to manage through it effectively so that what you don't end up with is endless meetings that accomplish nothing.

As one reader said, "I have seen all types of people and many times the most eccentric, unusual and difficult people to work with are the most creative of the bunch. It takes a really solid leader to know how to get that creative energy out of some individuals and to keep office drama to a minimum."

These are just a few snippets from this topic. This is a great discussion thread -- and only one of many at What I Saw at the Direct Marketing Revolution. I encourage you to check out the group and get involved in the conversation. It's empowering to discuss issues that we face every day as business owners of wherever we work. My bet is that you'll pick up some great ideas that you can incorporate into your business from this group. In return, I'll bet that you'll contribute some excellent ideas to the group, too.

This is, simply stated, social marketing at it's finest.


Robert Rosenthal said...

Thanks to people like you, the conversations have indeed been fascinating.

Nancy Arter said...

Hey, Thanks Robert! And Kudos to you for creating such a great spot on Facebook, where B2B idea exchange can occur so freely. Who says Facebook is for kids? : )