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Cross-Functional Contact

13 May, 2016 - 13:23

One of the first mistakes an organization might make is to allow the various functional areas to become proprietary. Whenever a marketing department considers itself most important to the success of the organization and self-sufficient without need for accounting, manufacturing, or human resources, it ceases to be a reliable marketing group. True marketers know they cannot be any better than their weakest link. Lack of understanding and trust between marketing and manufacturing, for instance, could mean that a product sold by marketing is not delivered when promised or with the right features. Marketers should consider their peers in engineering, who might not be able to produce an ambitious product requested by marketing at the cost desired. Likewise, human resources might not be able to locate the individual "with ten years of experience in package goods marketing" requested by the marketing manager.

The point is that marketing is far more likely to be successful if its staff relate intelligently and honestly with members of the other functional areas. In some organizations, the walls of parochialism have been standing so long that tearing them down is almost impossible. Nevertheless, creating inter-departmental connections is critical.

With downsizing and other cost-cutting activities prevalent during the 1990s, the need for inter-related and harmonious business functions has become even more important. In the field of marketing, the term integrated marketing has been coined, suggesting that individuals working in traditional marketing departments are no longer specialists, but must become knowledgeable about all the elements of the business that currently or potentially have an impact on the success of marketing. At the corporate level, all managers should share a corporate vision, and there should be an organizational structure that makes it possible for departments or divisions to share information and participate in joint planning.

This approach represents the direction in which many companies are moving, including US giants like Kraft and Disney. To be truly integrated, though, every decision at each level of the business should support decisions made at all the other levels. To illustrate, let us say that the corporate goal is to maximize profit. A marketing plan objective to increase sales by marketing new products matches the goal.