As successful marketing organisations grow, they tend to branch off into departments with unique specialised focuses. In our experience, it’s common to encounter teams separated into two distinct camps.
The first camp is the “brand team,” whose goal is to drive awareness, shape public perception, and influence what the audience thinks of the brand.
The second camp goes by many names. It's commonly referred to as the "acquisition marketing," "direct marketing," or "performance marketing" team. Regardless of the terminology, its objective is clear: to drive lifetime value and revenue through activities. In other words, the goal is to influence the audience to act.
Each party can be guilty of putting up walls and operating within silos. Brand teams can sometimes obsess over strict visual design rules, while the bottom-line marketers are acutely focused on testing new creative strategies to engage consumers. Sometimes, they can take things a bit too far and create designs that are in poor taste, sacrificing the brand's core identity and values in order to gain a new customer or sale.
When working with clients, our agency frequently finds itself straddling these walls. Performance campaigns often require the blessing of "brand police," who are quick to reject any ideas that are not 100% on-brand. This is a common source of tension - one that ultimately leads to less effective campaigns and suboptimal results across the board.
Fewer walls = More opportunities
When the walls go up, it's easy for marketing teams to lose focus on the department's overarching goal: sustainable long-term growth. Cross-team collaboration provides the best opportunity for achieving that objective.
As direct marketers, it's important to recognise (and genuinely believe) that the brand team's guidelines were established for sound reasons. You should, in fact, embrace these elements when crafting your direct response campaigns. Why? Because trust and consistency are key elements to drive response and conversion. If a TV ad features visuals and offers that appeal to a certain demographic, the digital assets that aim to nurture the resulting leads must follow suit.
Brand teams and performance teams can and should work together to create this seamless customer journey. They should leverage each other's strengths, share knowledge, find a middle ground, and collaborate to drive results the entire department can be proud of.
Here are three ways to foster a collaborative environment and build a cohesive customer experience:
1. Combine forces to pinpoint your most effective USP. The brand team has likely conducted a great deal of research and compiled mountains of evidence regarding what motivates its target customers. These hard-earned insights should fuel the strategies and messages the performance team creates, tests, and hones over time.
Eventually, this process will help unearth the brand's most effective unique selling proposition - one that actually resonates with consumers and tells them why the product or service is better (and different) from the other options out there.
2. Pair subjective research with genuine data. Focus groups are nothing new to brand marketers. They help identify how target audiences will react to a product, service, or campaign. However, what people say in a focus group does not always end up being what they ultimately do.
Meanwhile, performance teams uncover hard-data insights regarding what users are actually doing. When paired with subjective research (such as focus group findings), these genuine insights can help the entire marketing department understand the delta between the intended selling triggers and the real ones.
3. Always think long-term. An off-brand message may provide an immediate lift in response, but it will not help marketers win the long game. Never forget that brands out last offers. Veering off course to drive quick sign-ups or sales will only lead to disappointment down the road.
Embrace the fact that a majority of consumers will not carry out the intended call to action, and challenge yourself to always provide a brand-positive experience to these nonresponders. It could take months to convert them into clients, but persistence will pay off. These individuals will be much more likely to become lifelong advocates.
In order to succeed in the today's hyperconnected, competitive era, marketing departments that make wholehearted commitments to collaboration will prevail. Performance marketers and brand marketers should constantly remind themselves that despite their differences, they are fighting for the same cause. Only then can they work in tandem to create cohesive customer journeys that drive sustainable results