April 26, 2016

Cross Functional Team

By the time you finish your first day of work promoting a customer acquisition agenda, you will have already generated a healthy community of "haters".

Several Executives have already gone out for drinks, noting that you aren't the first person to have a plan. They've already crafted a plan to defeat you. IT will sandbag your requests with nonsense like "we don't have resources at this critical time of the year." Creative will suggest that a customer acquisition strategy is "not brand appropriate" and will instead focus on completely ignoring everything you say. A merchant will grumble that by ignoring best customers, you are actively ruining the performance of products loved by best customers, and the merchant isn't going to stand for that. Your operations Executive already reached out to your Woodside Research rep, who reassured the operations Exec that you are nuts and that the operations Executive should keep buying omnichannel loyalty reports at $795 each.

Worse, a paper rep already heard that you are going to de-emphasize loyalty efforts via the catalog and will eventually de-emphasize co-op customer acquisition ... this person is meeting with catalog operations as we speak, and is locking them into a long-term program of discounts that kick-in only if circulation increases. And you were wondering why your printer called you at 4:00pm to schedule a meeting to talk about "the future"?

In other words, the forces that will work against you aligned and acted quickly, and have set in motion a set of activities that will make your job difficult. Nobody is on your side. 


Is it any wonder almost nobody has chosen your path?

But you are a leader, aren't you? It's your job to save your company from itself.

And you're going to need help doing that.

This is where your Brand Response Marketing Team comes into play.

Ask each Executive to volunteer one star employee, preferably age 30-39, to participate on a team that will craft and implement customer acquisition strategies outside of the catalog.

This is where people get even more angry with you.
  • "Outside of the catalog? The catalog is our heritage. It is who we are. What the heck are you talking about? Go work for an online startup if you want to implement nonsense."
  • "My team is already overwhelmed after four rounds of downsizing in eight years. You get nobody from me, got it."
  • "Age 30-39? You are discriminating against experienced people age 55-64 who could fix this problem if you just gave them a chance."
This is where you tell the Executive Team that you have budgeted money for 40% bonuses for each member of the team, should the team sufficiently increase new customer counts.

This is where the Executive Team turns to the Human Resources Executive, and reminds everybody that there are salary bands, and that only Executives earn bonuses. This is where you remind the team that the company has a ten year history of not paying bonuses and not generating good business results.

Why do you need a cross-functional Brand Response Marketing Team, especially of folks age 30-39?

Well, your IT team is going to be less likely to embargo your projects if a member of the IT team does not earn her bonus if the project is nuked, right? Your merchandising team will be more likely to help you if somebody has a vested interest in helping you. Your creative team will be more likely to help you if they feel like they are contributing to your marketing strategy instead of being told what to do.

Your chances of success have to be higher if you have a cross-functional team that aligns with your goals but are part of the teams that potentially halt your progress, right?


Of course, you are going to pre-wire all of this with Human Resources. By doing that, when the room turns on you about bonuses, you will have the support of HR and/or your Compensation Team.

You now have two teams working on customer acquisition strategy.
  1. Your Marketing Team.
  2. Your Brand Response Marketing Team, a cross-functional team across departments.
Undoubtedly, you are going to have successes when you have two teams literally competing against each other, right?

It will be your job to manage the competition.

You'll do fine.

The competition keeps each team motivated. If you only have one team, then one team can decide to sandbag and ruin your efforts to push your company forward. But by having two teams, well, the competition alone will improve the chances that your company acquires new customers outside of the catalog.


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