Marketing teams thrive on two things: coffee and teamwork. The former is the preferred lubricant that wakes teammates from stupor, while the latter is the grease that gets the gears of progress moving. But every now and then, even the most efficient marketing machine breaks down from lack of oil.

That’s when you get legendary stories of epic marketing failures such as these.

Epic marketing failures - see 3 examples

If you’ve ever been in one of these situations where teamwork (and project progress) grinds to a halt, it’s painful. If it doesn't cost much money to remedy, you might be lucky. However, there is typically a huge hit to your brand's reputation and trustworthiness.

Still, mistakes are avoidable if you know what to watch out for.

Let’s look at five of the most common mistakes that marketing teams make in their collaboration efforts.

Marketing Collaboration Mistake No. 1: Collaborating Via Email

We’ve long said that email was not created to facilitate project management.

  • You lose the context of what you’re talking about pretty quickly, or you get duplicate information with everyone chiming in on a single discussion.
  • Then you encounter problems with visibility — how can you tell the status of a project when you’re just reading email replies? (Short answer: you can’t.)
  • You will also run afoul when trying to look for attachments or specific details in email threads that are fifteen layers deep.
  • Then, of course, there are the unfortunate souls who hit the “reply all” button with disastrous consequences. Ask Bill Cochran, the creative director whose monumental “reply all” email blunder was turned into an actual ad for Bridgestone Tires during the 2011 Superbowl.

Use the right tool for the right job. Email is great for sending short packets of information. But once you need efficient collaboration, it’s time to take it somewhere else. Instead of relying on email, invest in one of the enterprise collaboration systems that make assigning tasks and project upkeep easier than hitting reply all, and where nothing falls through the cracks.

Marketing Collaboration Mistake No.2: Failing to Engage Your Audience

The old way of marketing doesn’t work anymore — you can’t just release your marketing campaign and walk away, hoping for good results. You’re wasting opportunities to bring your brand closer to your customers.

With all our work being done in an increasingly social space, it falls on a marketer’s shoulders to engage with audiences after launching a campaign. Engagement is the new currency.

"Social media gives you the ability to go back and forth with an audience in ways that didn’t exist years ago.” ~ Karena Breslin, Director of Digital Media, Constellation Brands 

And not just on social media: nurture prospects with email drips, create landing pages to repackage webinar recordings and other content, and extend conversations beyond Twitter and Facebook to sites like Quora and Slideshare. Be helpful, be friendly, be an ambassador for your brand.

A great example? Carter Wilkerson asking how many retweets it would take to get a year of free chicken nuggets at Wendy's. The reply and its subsequent viral spread became Instant customer engagement.

Marketing Collaboration Mistake No. 3: Not Measuring the Right Metrics

We live in the age of big data and of data-driven decision making. Marketing campaign decisions are inextricably linked with the metrics that were used in previous projects. But what if you’re still only measuring Facebook likes and Twitter followers? You are missing actionable insights by collecting incomplete data.

“The Internet creates a sense that anything is knowable or findable — as long as you can construct the right search, find the right tool, or connect to the right people.” ~Marissa Mayer, President & CEO, Yahoo! 

Extend Mayer's logic to measuring the right things — those that translate to actual business objectives — so you gain better info that can be used to craft more relevant and more engaging campaigns.

For more on which marketing metrics you should be measuring, read this post: The 9 Key Marketing Metrics Your CMO Actually Cares About.

And check out this 3-minute video on KPIs to use for measuring your content marketing efforts:

Marketing Collaboration Mistake No. 4: Communicating Poorly

If you’re a marketer, you have no excuse for poor communication skills. Your entire livelihood is founded on being able to express ideas succinctly and persuading people to act on what you say.

And yet there are marketing teams whose collaborative skills flounder under the pressure of the deadline,and there are those who fire off quick, angry messages when unexpected problems arise, just making the situation worse.

You need to take note of the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and WHY in communication before sending that email or instant message — especially if you’re collaborating with remote colleagues who can’t see your facial expressions when you deliver a curt reply. Don’t be reactive and trigger-happy. Be cautious. Be fair. And don’t stick your foot in your mouth.

Watch this video on how stress affects team dynamics (Length: 4:53) and what strategies you can use to cope with the stress:

Marketing Collaboration Mistake No. 5: Remaining in Silos

Probably the biggest mistake that marketing team members can make is to stay stuck in individual silos, never coming up for air, never sharing what they know. It’s the old problem of not realizing that your process or your own knowledge could be useful for others. Or it’s simply a lack of time to teach your team about best practices that you’ve already internalized. Since it’s all in your head, no one else has access to your wisdom.

The world is moving too fast for silos. Knowledge has to be shared in order for teams to function optimally. And that’s why management methods such as Agile and Lean have become such tremendous “disruptors” with a prioritization on collaboration rather than silos and hierarchy.

To be part of a marketing team that moves rapidly and pivots when called for, there must be a culture that supports sharing and teamwork. There has to be a conscious effort to document processes, share best practices, and offer to help the entire team where you can.

Is your marketing team committing one of the 5 collaboration sins?

What other mistakes do you feel are fatal to marketing teams?  Hit the comments and share away!  


5 Mistakes Marketing Teams Make with Collaboration

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