By nickjohnson - April 12th, 2013

As part of the run up to the 2013 Incite Summit, we asked 300+ marketing and communications executives about the key issues they see impacting on their roles in 2013.

Perhaps the most obvious, and pressing, development for senior marketing and communications executives in 2013 is the continued blurring of the lines between the two functions.

It was a common refrain throughout our research -

  • “The challenge is how both functions work more closely in alignment, and leverage each others’ resources”
  • “What we’re saying internally is that with the advent of social, with multiple media channels, that lines blur between traditional marketing, PR and Communications”
  • “The customer doesn’t care where the info is from, just that they can get that info easily”
  • “One of our key challenges this year is integration - between brand, PR, communications, and marketing, to ensure a better joined up response and message to a more demanding set of customers”


As we can see, the surveys we’ve run back up the findings. A huge 92% of respondents said that multiple departments “must work better together for an enhanced, unified customer experience”.


Another significant proportion -  56% - are more specific, declaring that it is ‘very important’ for marketing and communications departments to collaborate and integrate better over 2013.


What explains this push to convergence?

So why has internal departmental convergence, collaboration and integration become such a pressing concern for senior marketers and communicators?

There are two relatively new pressures on both groups, and they’re blurring the lines between two previously distinct departments

The external pressure: In large part because of the rise of social media, consumers increasingly expect to be able to speak to a brand as easily as they speak to a friend - and more importantly, to get a response and build a relationship.

Your consumers expect that when they mention your brand on Twitter, then call you, and then send you a follow up message over Facebook, that you’ll join the dots. And that’s a real challenge when social adoption is so fragmented, particularly in larger businesses who usually have tens of social accounts, run by different individuals in different teams.

One obvious answer is to unify that approach. Considering the marketing and communications teams are those predominantly responsible for outreach on behalf of a brand, it follows that they should work together to manage these communication channels (with the possible addition of customer service - and even IT - departments).

The internal pressure: Again, social plays a role here - though big data is becoming increasingly important. Companies now have an unrivalled ability to track, monitor - and understand - their customer in far greater depth than ever before. To take the example above, once your business can track customer interactions over multiple channels, one is able to spot trends, brewing crises, and new business opportunities.

But for this to work, those many departments who monitor different big data sets - IT, customer service, product development, customer insight, marketing, customer service - must ensure that data flows uninterrupted between each other. More importantly, that learning is shared between these departments.

Marketing and communications, as the two functions with arguably the most to gain from a more in-depth and nuanced understanding of the consumer, should be spearheading this unification.

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