There’s no doubt that Covid has impacted businesses around the world. Regardless of their industry or size, companies have had to take a step back and examine their business, from their structure, right through to their strategy and the people delivering it.
As we’re currently going through the third national lockdown in the UK, cost cutting is front of mind for many businesses, but it’s not the only solution, addressing organisational structure can have similarly powerful effects.
It’s important to take stock of how the business environment has changed and, irrespective of whether those changes are positive or negative, to pause and reconsider how best to re-engage with the market.
The virtual world that we all find ourselves in, has forced many businesses to rethink the way they engage with not only their customers, but also their employees. People need to be excited and energised – sales forces should be galvanised, and colleagues and partners reconnected. And on top of that, smaller budgets need to go further.
Focus on marcomms
Many businesses have evolved in response to the pandemic and begun to recover.
Some have been lucky enough to use this time to optimise or even accelerate their operations. The outcome of all this change for many, has been the recognition of how fundamental marketing communications is for any business and that despite budgetary challenges, it’s crucial to find a place for it. After all, marketing communications not only builds and protects your brand it also defends it.
Having worked across several industries, from satellites and engineering through to aviation, rail, oil and energy and hospitality, one of the things that I often see holding back the marcomms function is organisational structure.
The first step towards ensuring our teams are structured to succeed, is to identify where the team adds value and can have the most impact. In these challenging times when financial constraints colour every decision, it’s important to be able to leverage the marcomms team effectively and ensure they are set up to win.
Restructure and rebuild
There is no one-size-fits-all formula, but there are logical ways of gaining value for your team. For instance, silos need to be removed so that everyone can work together, and not compete for budget. Marketing, PR, internal comms and digital teams should be delivering against a joint plan, considering which areas need more focus and the purpose of each team.
Shaping your marketing communications unit to match your budgets, strategy, threats and audience needs, means your team and their skills are used more efficiently. Of course, every department should focus on delivering their specialist tactics, but those tactics need to feed into the overarching objectives to deliver an integrated strategy.
In an ideal world, your structure will provide you with enough flexibility to be able to redirect firepower from one part of the business to another relatively fast. This will address evolving business needs and bring the right skills to the right place, which is essential to avoid wasting valuable time and money.
This reallocation of expertise is easier to do if your marketing strategy is aligned to your business objectives and the function has been established to drive the long-term strategy.
Outsourcing key skills is another option, but to harness the power of an outsourced team you will need to invest time and education. Instead of thinking of it as a cheaper alternative to an in-house team, see it as an opportunity to develop the team you need.
In summary, if you can properly assess your marketing communications structure and match it with your long-term objectives, by integrating and leveraging the skills you have available, you can find your force multiplier. And that’s when you really start to drive maximum return on your investment.
Written by Dominic Walters, author of Cutting Through the Bullsh*t – Harnessing the power at your fingertips
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