Breaking down silos and creating a more fluid, integrated corporate structure is one of the most popular marketing narratives of the present day. And with good reason. It’s a real feel-good, hug in a mug, utopian vision of cuddly collaboration that sits well with almost anyone with a pulse.
In reality, bringing this vision to life is challenging, if not impossible, for even the loftiest and most revered of content creators. Pretty much without exception, we lack the clout to substantially alter our global corporate structures. And even if we could, does that mean that we should?
Now, I realize I’m going against the grain here, but this is an insight that may radically change the way you view your organization and the way you approach global customer experience.
Silos are not the enemy of great global content
Sure, it’s not the slickest motto, but it’s definitely useful in regard to how you go about creating awesome global content. I advocate that it’s entirely possible to create great global content, even in a corporate structure that’s so honeycombed and compartmentalized by category and region that it resembles a particularly messed up Rubik’s cube.
Here’s how to succeed where most silo strewn corporate structures struggle to produce an exceptional global customer experience:
Open up the channels of communication
One of the things we hear a lot is frustration from regional teams who feel that their central marketing teams are set to permanent broadcast mode from headquarters, laying down the law and supplying content that isn’t fit for purpose in their markets. They are perceived not to listen and not to understand the nuances of the different divisions and markets.
Fix it fast: Set up a brand “war council” with representatives from each region to provide a forum to discuss potential interpretations and developments of the brand. Not only are you giving your regional managers an official platform for their voice to be heard, you’re also giving yourself a space to provide oversight and guidance, thereby avoiding too many crazy deviations from the brand guidelines.
Leverage the knowledge in each silo
You’ve probably been on the receiving end of feedback from your markets that complained about translation quality, content relevance, lack of understanding of market maturity, technology adoption, social media platforms etc. Contained within each separate segment of your business is the expert knowledge that’ll power deep, authentic content and storytelling. All you need to do is unlock it.
Fix it fast: Create integrated content teams for specific projects. Start with a centralized pool of resources and then send your best content creators from this central pool into the silos to partner with their best people. You might not be able to break down the silos, but by sending your best people to work within them for fixed periods and projects, you fuse expert knowledge with great content creation capabilities.
Create guidance that empowers, not rules that frustrate
Another bone of contention between HQ and regional or product marketers are brand guidelines. They are often observed to be too constricting and often contravene the cultural norms of the various markets.
But there has to be a balance. A guiding hand that allows for interpretation, but stops anything too drastic happening to the core brand identity. We certainly can’t allow the logo to be rendered in fluorescent green and squished into the corner as regional teams dance gaily round a big brand manual bonfire.
Fix it fast: If you don’t already have them, initiate a project for regional brand guideline development. Make sure you have adequate input from regional teams and plenty of space for discussion and negotiation. If your previously renegade regional team helps to create their own version of the brand guidelines, you’ll be surprised how quickly poacher turns game keeper.
Applying these three simple tips will allow you to successfully negotiate your corporate silos and create high impact global content in spite of your corporate structure. And that great content forms the foundation for an exceptional global customer experience.
For more insights on creating great global content, download our latest eBook, A Marketer’s Guide to Global Customer Experience Management.