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According to Investopedia, a silo mentality is “a reluctance to share information with employees of different divisions in the same company… reducing the organization’s efficiency.”
In other words, if different people or teams in your company aren’t on the same page about everything that’s going on, they might end up doing a worse job.
Silos can make your company seem less innovative and damage your employee engagement, resulting in lowered productivity.
They could also make your marketing less effective.
When it comes to marketing, “working in silos” usually means that everyone in the marketing department keeps to themselves.
The SEO people only think about SEO, designers about design, developers about development…you get the picture. Like actual silos, they’re separated and don’t interact. Why does this matter? Because it’s bad for business.
There are many reasons why marketing silos can cause a ripple effect in your business that goes beyond ineffective communication.
When your marketing is siloed, your team can end up accidentally wasting a lot of time by not coordinating with each other.
You own a company that makes dog food, and your content marketing strategist is trying to generate a few content ideas about pet care for your blog. They go to my keyword research tool, Ubersuggest, to get some inspiration:
But what they don’t realize is that the SEO team already did a bunch of research about this topic last week, and could easily have shared it with them. No one on the SEO team thought to tell the marketing team about their research, and no one on the marketing team thought to ask.
Because of marketing siloing, your content marketer has now spent their entire day doing something that’s already been done.
Here’s another example:
You have a freelance copywriter writing for your new website and a UX specialist working on the design. They’re working separately.
When they present you with the final deliverables, none of the copy fits into the wireframes. At all.
Your copywriter now has to redo all their work, annoying them and costing you more money.
The whole thing could have been avoided if you had just asked the copywriter and UX specialist to work together.
In addition to wasting time and money, marketing siloing prevents you from getting killer results.
Your customers expect your marketing to be consistent across channels—it’s how they know they’re on a legitimate site for your company. That’s why it’s so important to have an integrated marketing strategy. If your marketing department is siloed, your campaigns—and even basic things like font choices and colors—will look inconsistent. Silos can also create confusing situations and missed opportunities.
For example, let’s say you’re launching a new content marketing campaign. Your content team pours a bunch of money into hiring freelance writers, graphic designers, and videographers to create lots of awesome content for your website.
No one knows what happened. The content is really high-quality and perfectly optimized for SEO. You’re getting tons of additional traffic, but no conversions. What gives?
Turns out, the tone of the content is all wrong. It’s written in a way none of your ideal clients can understand or relate to.
Know who could have told you that? The sales and customer service teams. After all, they know your clients pretty well.
Once again, siloing leads to a marketing fail.
(By the way, if you’re trying to get more conversions for your website, there’s more to it than just creating content. In the video below, I share seven cool hacks that can help improve your conversion rate.)
Another terrible thing about marketing siloing is that it demotivates your employees.
It’s easy to get excited about something when you see the bigger picture. But the larger your business gets, the more removed every individual becomes from your company’s overall mission—because they may not even know who is making decisions, let alone why.
Think about the way freelancers and consultants see their business. They’re responsible for doing everything themselves, so it seems like a real win when they get results.
The same goes for small teams—when something goes well, everybody celebrates. People feel like their job is making a difference.
When you’re running a larger company, it’s harder to keep this dynamic going.
Suppose your SEO person sits around all day copying and pasting keywords into a spreadsheet without seeing how this impacts the company’s marketing strategy. They’re likely to start thinking their job is pointless. After a while, they’ll probably start to look for another one.Losing talent is expensive. You don’t want your best people to leave because of an easily-solved problem like marketing siloing.
For employees at mid-size or larger companies, getting together with co-workers to bounce around ideas can be motivating, especially when those co-workers aren’t the same ones they see every day.
It makes everyone feel like they’re working towards the same goals.
By now, you should be pretty convinced that marketing siloing is not a good thing: it’s something that can hurt your business.
But how can you know if you have a silo problem?
When you’re “in the trenches” day in and day out, it can be hard to take a step back and think about what’s going on at the macro level in your company. And if you’re making the higher-level decisions, you may not know what your employees are experiencing.
If you’re worried about marketing siloing, take a look to see if you notice any of these things:
Have you noticed that your employees only talk to a few of their co-workers?
Maybe they don’t leave their desks and just chat with the people next to them. Or perhaps they have one or two friends in their department and don’t talk to anyone else.
If this is something you’ve seen at your company, marketing siloing might be an issue for you.
Another way to see if your marketing department is siloed is to ask your marketers what their co-workers are doing.
Ask your designers what the dev team is up to in relation to their projects. See if your SEO team knows anything about paid ads. Check if your content marketers are working with your social media people on writing consistent content across verticals.
If the answer people keep on giving you is “I have no idea,” they’re working in silos.
Even if your marketers are pretty good at working with other marketing team members, that doesn’t mean they’re good at working with other teams.
Marketers need to know what other teams are doing—even when their jobs seem unrelated.
If your marketing team doesn’t understand your business from a big-picture perspective, they could be making major mistakes that cause your marketing campaigns to fail.
Let’s say you’ve decided that your business has an issue with marketing siloing. What are you supposed to do about it?
You have to take action to deal with the siloing.
When creating a plan to tackle marketing siloing, the first thing you’ll want to do is talk to your managers.
Siloing often starts at the higher levels of a business. If your marketing department is divided into several teams, meet with your team leads separately to see what their goals are.
If the team leads aren’t working together and their goals seem unrelated to one another, that’s a problem. You should call a meeting with them to come up with a way to do things better.
Here are some of the things you can include in your de-siloing plan:
Having one central marketing plan that everyone has to follow is essential for your company. If you don’t already have one, that’s the first place to start.If you’ve been running your marketing in a “throw things at the wall and see what sticks” type of way, it’s time to nip that in the bud and get serious about your strategy.
What does this mean? Well, first, you should have one or more buyer personas that show who your customers are and what they care about.
Next, you need to know what your competition is doing. Do some competitor analysis and try to understand what they’re doing that works and how you can use that information to get ahead of them.
Don’t copy their strategies, though. You’re not the same as your competitors; instead, you’ll want to show you’re better. More on that in my video below:
Once you’ve covered these things, you can create a multichannel marketing plan to help you get the results you need.
You’ll want to define your main goals and KPIs and make sure you’re hitting them. Make it clear that everyone needs to be involved in that process.
If you already have a marketing plan in place, but you still feel like you’re dealing with marketing silos, how can you get everyone in your company to get on board as a cohesive team?
If folks in your company don’t see the big picture, maybe it’s because they’re not talking to each other enough.
Make sure to plan regular meetings for your marketing department where your marketers can present what they’re working on and tell others about their wins and roadblocks. Even a 15 or 30-minute weekly meeting does wonders for team connection and communication.
Another thing to look at is the collaboration software you’re using.
If people are divided into different groups in your internal chat software or project management tools, make sure some company-wide channels are open, too. These will let everyone talk with each other.
Ensure that all your marketers have access to training, even in fields that are different from theirs. Maybe your SEOs want to learn more about web development, or perhaps your developers want to know more about copywriting. Let them learn!
Training your employees not only helps them get better at their job, but it also shows you care about helping them advance in their career—in turn, making them more engaged at work.
If you still can’t figure out why your marketers aren’t working together, maybe your company has a culture problem. Maybe one of your managers has trouble controlling their temper and has a history of blowing up at people. Everyone tries to avoid them, so communication breaks down.
Or maybe you’re paying your lead SEO twice as much as your head of content marketing, and the content marketer isn’t happy about it. Since the content marketer resents the SEO, they’ve stopped talking to them and just do things on their own.
Once you root out these problems, you can deal with them.
If you’ve already tried fixing culture problems and giving your marketers more opportunities to communicate, but you’re still having problems, it’s time to consider taking more significant steps to deal with your marketing siloing.
Maybe what you need is a full overhaul of your org chart.
If you have several small, siloed teams, consider merging them into one larger unit with a few different “sub-units.”
Put these bigger teams together in the office to talk to each other about their current projects.
Or you could keep the hierarchy you have now, but move people around in a way that makes them feel less isolated.
No matter what you choose to do to deal with marketing siloing, the most important thing is that you follow through with it.
Don’t just go on an “anti-silo crusade” for a few months and then forget about it, letting things go back to the way they were before. Make sure your commitment is permanent.
Marketing siloing is one of the main things that can sabotage your marketing campaigns. Luckily, once you realize your company has a silo problem, you can often deal with it pretty quickly—as long as you have an organized plan.
Your employees will feel relieved that you’re taking the initiative. They will benefit from better communication between departments and individual employees.
Did I miss any ways to deal with marketing siloing? Let me know in the comments.
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