Blow Up Silos!
Build your marketing strategy around the customer's perspective.
Not long ago, when you drove through the American countryside you saw tall, windowless buildings, usually attached to barns. They are called silos and farmers used them to store grain.
You don't see many grain silos anymore. They disappeared because there are better ways of storing silage to make it more accessible. But silos do still exist in offices: vertical organizational structures—fiefdoms, really. These silos need to go, too. They're too inaccessible, and silo A never has the foggiest idea what silo B is up to.
Recent Silo Experience
A few weeks ago, I spoke to seven different groups within a large financial services company in seven different sessions. Each group wanted to pick my brain about its direct marketing challenges.
The first group mentioned it would like to get first dibs on new customers in the database. Apparently, each group hits the customer whenever its programs mail, and there isn't any real coordination of the programs.
Then the group told me it didn't do solo mailers. Of its mail, 100 percent of the programs are either postcards or self-mailers. The tiny type face (too small for me to read, and I wanted to read it) is necessary so it can fit in all the copy it needs, plus the lawyers insist on the complete set of legal disclaimers. Visuals? Just pick-up photos from a limited library.
"What should we do?" the group asked. "We know these things won't appeal to the target audience, but management insists we do things this way."
Each group said roughly the same things, but didn't know the other silo groups had the same problems.
How Can They Improve Results?
I recommended they tell management they want to test against the current control packages. It will be a step in the right direction, creatively, and they will be able to prove their results (in response rates). Hopefully then they'll get more money for additional testing by measuring the improved response.