Communication Barrier Essay

Submitted By Digpal1
Words: 1557
Pages: 7

page 16

July 19, 1993

How to overcome the barriers to integration
Most nii)na]>€rs recognize ihe need for integrated marketing cotnnuinications programs. Few question Ihe value. Bui once they decide to develop some type of iniegraled program, many find several barriers, both within and outside their organization. In previous columns. I discussed some of the external problems, particularly ihose which agencies have. But the internal barriers to an integrated program are commonly just as great, or perhaps greater. In ihis column (and two to follow). I'll look at the most common internal bamers to integrated marketing communications. After pointing out where the challenges lie. I'll discuss some of the organizational solutions that can overcome the barriers. Most of the organizations that I've helped to move to an integrated communications program have found six common problems, challenges, difficulties, complaints, or whatever you want to call (hem. in developing an IMC program. Almost all are related in some way to the organization's corporate culture. It's helpful for managers to know the problems before trying to develop solutions. Although each organization will be different (certainly that has been my experience), most of the barriers to integration can be classified into the six following categories. 1. "WeVe already integrated." When the subject of integration comes up, the primary response of employees is "We already do that." In limited instances, they commonly do. or at least believe they do. For example, most ad people at least confer with the sales promotion people before releasing a new campaign. Generally, the direct marketing people will talk with the sales force, and. perhaps, the PR people will discuss their plans with marketing. However, beyond this limited, often perfunctory interaction, and often only when it is deemed absolutely necessary, is there any ongoing dialogue about the overall communications programs of the organization or even the brand. Often, internal communications is left to the human relations department. Packaging commonly reports to sales. PR is often part of the corporate staff. And so on. So, while there is some limited amount of integration of some areas of the communications program, few, if any. organizations really are designed to or are prepared to develop totally integrated communications programs from the customer's view. Though many claim they are already integrated, a quick audit of what is reaching the customer or consumer generally shows that isn't true, 2. History, tradition, and experience. The second problem is the way the organization is structured. The organization is the people. It is what employees believe it is. It is their history. If the organization has a history of specialization and vertical silos, employees will argue—indeed, often light—to keep that structure. It is comfortable. They know how it works. They like it. History, tradition, and experience are hard to overcome. In many cases, the employees, and perhaps even the managers, believe that is what made the company originally successful. Overcoming tradition and culture is difficult but it can be done. And it takes time. 3. Turf, power, and position. Most employees, and sotne managers, are reluctant to move to integration because they believe it will require them to give up some of the power and prestige to which their present positions entitle them. Or, IMC will take away some of their often, hard-won tuif. Or it might threaten their perceived position in the organization. Few employees and even fewer managers want to give up any territory or position, lor that is how they calculate their value to the organization. The combining of activities, positions, responsibilities, and power which IMC commonly requires is likely the toughest challenge to integration. This involves the personal lives of those involved in the integration process. Those are never easy positions or beliefs to change, 4. Cult of