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Walk the tight rope
Navin V. Nagiah
Saturday, April 30, 2005
The engineer, salesperson and marketer meet at the office water cooler:
Engineer (to marketer): We build. Sales sells. What do you guys do?
Salesperson mockingly (before marketer can respond): Oh! They are the sales prevention team.
Marketer (to himself): Nobody understands me!

Achieve Organizational Synchronicity
Marketing’s biggest challenge is to achieve and maintain organizational synchronicity. It has to bridge two disparate worlds: the internal (company) with the external (market); the extroverts (sales) with the introverts (Product/R&D); overt confidence with intellectual practicality; external promise (the company’s “offerings”) with internal operational execution (the company’s “produce”).

Very few companies are actually successful in walking this tightrope. Most marketing organizations are built with an emphasis on external communication–press releases, lead generation programs, cold call initiatives, etc. As a result, the benefits to the organization are incremental, short-term and usually not sustainable. It is therefore not surprising when engineering and operational professionals refer to marketing as either “hype” or “inessential” in most B2B companies.

Defining a company’s mission and vision, identifying the company’s positioning, and designing the message framework are both “strategic” and “central” to the enterprise. In the game called business, strategy is just an opening gambit. While the opening gambit needs to be right, it rarely by itself ensures success. Superior execution is critical to obtain and sustain success.

It is one thing to develop the right message framework and yet another to ensure that internal product development and operational execution align closely with that message framework. Accomplishing this, especially when the different functions (sales, product, R &D) don’t fall under the ambit of marketing is a challenge. It calls for superior communication skills and an exemplary ability to articulate the company and product vision coupled with the ability to establish strong trust-based relationships with the different operational units.

Relationship is the strongest form of influence.

Marketing is the glue that holds the market facing and operational units of the company together. The tighter the relationship between marketing and the different units, the greater the synchronicity between the different units increases the chances of success.

Communicating the product and company vision to the different functional units so that all units are aligned in terms of both thinking and execution is one of marketing's most critical functions. The best way to accomplish this is to use the time-honored method of working with people and ensuring that the units have ownership of different elements of the vision.

Marketing should communicate, facilitate and influence. Marketing can’t and shouldn’t lead, manage or execute on the operational fronts of the business. That is neither their mandate nor their core competence. In other words, marketing should be the coach, not the player.

The next part of the series will cover the methodology for converting themes into messages or marketing collateral.

Navin Nagiah is a senior business executive in the Silicon Valley with extensive experience taking technology products to market in the US, UK, India, China and SE Asia.

Mr. Nagiah can be reached at navin35@yahoo.com
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