Marketers are known for managing much more than their own piece of the puzzle. Their cross-functional nature means they interface with nearly every team, and their work relies on the progress of product and engineering teams. Production setbacks lead to pushed-back launch timelines, delayed attribution metrics, and decreased brand equity, all of which fall on the shoulders of marketing teams.
The struggle is real.
So how can marketers become better at collaboration? Well, the cross-functional nature of your job is actually also your superpower. Think about it this way:
- The blog post you worked on with your product manager for a big launch gave you a glimpse into how she thinks about product development.
- That bug you needed to explain to customers helped you understand the engineers’ process of triaging, QA, and issue resolution.
- The landing page header image you worked on with your designer exposed you to the ideal workflow for collaborating on creative projects.
All of these initiatives help facilitate collaborative learning. But how do you remember all these cross-functional findings later? Take your ideas to the next level with this Meeting Notes template for Confluence, and by following these tips.
Find the lowest common language denominator 🔎
Marketing is often interpreted as an art more than a science, with arbitrary indicators of success that are difficult to measure. But throwing stuff at a wall and hoping it sticks is a strategy that every successful marketer knows will fail.
Instead, use the lowest common denominator in communication: numbers. As validated by every alien invasion movie ever, numbers are the one constant medium that can be used for efficient cross-functional collaboration.
Every change requires a proper, scientific method, including a clear hypothesis with goal metrics, an experiment process, and an analysis of the numbers.
For your goals, which metrics matter across functions? Maybe the conversion numbers that are important to you are also important for the designer trying to figure out the ideal product page setup. Or perhaps a performance metric of your product is relevant to both engineers and product managers. That metric is the lowest common denominator that can act as a motivator for project execution and better collaboration.
Often, a meeting is simply an exercise in persuasion, and the easiest way to persuade someone is to tell a clear and simple story they can connect to on a personal level.
Facilitate communication through collaborative meeting prep 👐
It’s common to enter a meeting focused on your own goals, and to spend the duration ensuring you stay on course to achieving them.
According to a survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review, however, 62% of senior managers queried said meetings miss opportunities to bring teams closer together. Just as you would develop a brand that resonates with consumers, you should understand the goals of your colleagues, especially for cross-functional meetings.
Attendees from different company functions will certainly have different considerations in mind. A product manager’s priority of making sure all decisions stay as close to the roadmap as possible might be their strongest motivation. Designers, on the other hand, understand the necessity of brand consistency, and may want to know that the project at hand will fit into their process and check all their boxes for consistent brand output.
After you have considered all these viewpoints (and only after you have considered them), set an agenda for your meeting to keep it on track (or keep multiple workflows in check) and efficient.
Most importantly, make sure all attendees have access to the agenda, thus allowing them to contribute to the meeting. Specific meeting note solutions like Hugo and team collaboration platforms like Confluence can really make a difference here.
Follow through on action items ✅
In preparation for your meeting, consider the way you choose to handle action items. All too often, you’ll have a great meeting with enthusiastic attendees and amazing ideas, but with no follow-up. Everyone has their own process and tools for project execution, and when an action item doesn’t fit into that flow, it can get lost in the Abyss of Forgotten Ideas.
Rescue these great ideas by considering the best way to assign tasks to each meeting attendee. As a marketer, you might prefer Trello to track your progress, while a product manager may stick to Jira. Sending out Trello notifications might organize things on your end, but tracking project completion for the whole team will become an issue.
Be sure to assign action items using the preferred tools for maximum success of the project. Also, dig into integrations that connect different tools together (Trello’s Power-Up for Jira works wonders for the above example).
Always find the story 💡
Whether or not they realize it, everyone loves stories. And they happen to be a fantastic medium for marketers looking to inspire consumers’ emotional centers — in fact, communication in the form of storytelling can be 22x more memorable than simple facts! Stories are an excellent tool for you to use externally as a marketer, and they can be just as successful internally.
Often, a meeting is simply an exercise in persuasion, and the easiest way to persuade someone is to tell a clear and simple story they can connect to on a personal level. For example, telling a sales executive that they should start each meeting by asking the customer a few questions will likely meet resistance to changing a working process. Instead, walk them through an example meeting where the questions and answers ultimately help them make the sale — you’ll be more likely to capture their attention.
Even though cross-functional communication is more complicated than ever with the evolution of technology, as a marketer you are better equipped than most to bypass these challenges.
Remember to always show up to a meeting prepared, communicate by finding the lowest common language denominator (numbers), and always find the story. Trust your instincts and check out this meeting note template from Hugo to become a cross-functional collaboration master.