You may have heard the term ‘Ivory Tower’ thrown around in business, and unfortunately more often than not it is used to describe a corporate marketing department. It’s a term that represents a great divide between the corporate and the operational areas of the business.
It is particularly prevalent in more industrial type businesses or those that have a large blue-collar workforce. It’s where corporate think operations don’t listen when it comes to implementing their awesome and well thought out strategies, and operations think corporate just don’t live in the real world.
Yep, I’ve been there.
So, here’s a message to marketers sitting there feeling frustrated up in that so called ivory tower – you don’t have to put up with this. The power to break down those barriers and get those out on the front line working with you rather than against you to implement your strategies is in your hands.
The secret (and some of you may not like it) is to get out into the trenches, get your hands dirty, and most importantly really listen to what’s going on out there.
Not only will you learn how to avoid some potential roadblocks when it comes to implementing your strategy, you will start to build some credibility with the very staff that form a vital part of the all-important implementation phase.
I’m not going to pretend that it’s easy, and it won’t happen overnight, but I also know from personal experience that it’s definitely worth it.
I remember many years ago as a young marketing graduate, I found myself in the unenviable position of trying to inspire a bunch of guys that had been servicing machinery for 20+ years to get on board with the latest marketing initiatives.
Let’s just say that they didn’t exactly welcome me with open arms. But, after a period of time of constantly getting out there, the rapport started building and we eventually found some common ground. I learned from them, and they learned from me.
Then, the dialogue continued to the point where a level of respect had developed between the two areas of the business, and that is the moment when marketing really started to hit its strides and get some runs on the board.
This is an approach that I have continued throughout my career and seen the benefits of time and time again.
It’s not glamorous, or a quick win.
It is however not that complicated. As long as you’re willing to put in the time, step outside your comfort zone, really listen and take on board what is being said (this may require a swallowing of the ego at times), it can make life so much easier – and more profitable – in the long run.
Oh, and a thick skin certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Author: Cameron McIver