Are Your Retail Operations and Marketing Teams in Synch?
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits them and sells itself.” – Peter Drucker
The scenario in most retail organizations goes like this: Marketing complains that, despite their efforts, retail operations simply isn’t serious about executing to plan. At the same time, retail operations is frustrated because marketing never seems to generate the right promotions at the right time to drive traffic and generate sales.
It is obvious that a seamless flow of information between operations and marketing sets the ideal scenario for selling. But it’s easier said than done.
At times, the issue is structural. Operations teams and marketing teams simply aren’t aligned or resourced to be able to execute. What happens on the sales floor is deeply affected by what marketing is doing, and marketing plans can only be effective when information about the customer experience is exchanged to marketing. Each team appears to have a different goal, yet the goals of increased market share and ROI are shared by both and throughout the entire company.
Beneath it all, the root cause of the problem is that there are no commonly agreed upon and documented communication expectations. Communications must flow in both directions for the departments to align and successfully execute at the highest levels.
Establish Your Communications Criteria
Top performing retail organizations have very clear definitions about the minimum established communications criteria. The criteria often reflect impact on the ideal customer profiles and key issues agreed upon, and other factors that can help answer at least some of the following questions:
- Does our messaging reflect and have an impact on what matters to our customers?
- Are customers likely to act?
- Are we in a good position to win their business?
- With our ideal customer in mind, what channels are the best use of our resources?
Of course, there should be a written and mutually agreed upon definition of what an “ideal customer” looks like. And equally important, retail operations must commit to marketing on executing plans and providing timely feedback. In turn, marketing must commit to being open to the feedback and adjust tactics and strategy accordingly. In simple terms they just need to listen to each other.
Familiarity breeds understanding. Have the marketing team shadow sales activities, such as sales calls or sales planning sessions. In turn, retail operations can sit in on marketing strategy and creative brainstorming meetings. This may uncover gaps in information exchange that will lead to opportunities for a more unified approach to fulfilling expectations for sales success.
Get your retail operations and marketing teams together and ask them to work out an acceptable commitment and cadence of how and when to communicate. Make sure that it is clearly documented and consistent with the already-established definition of an “ideal customer.”
Ask the teams to document a simple, in-writing agreement that outlines: (1) what retail operations will do to execute to plans, (2) how they will report back to marketing and (3) how marketing will openly engage with retail operations and adjust accordingly.
Consider streamlining your communication processes. Ideally, data that retail operations and marketing teams need to share should be available on a single shared platform. You may need a cross-functioning content management system or specialized software application to improve synchronicity.
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