You might know the term technical debt: In software development, it refers to putting off correcting a flaw in software to speed up product release. The “debt” is the time you borrow, compounded by the costly consequences of not fixing the issue at the outset.
MarketingLand believes that a similarly costly waste of valuable resources happens in the marketing realm. They call it communication debt.
What is communication debt?
When your communication across departments doesn’t match with your products or services, market, beliefs, or abilities, communication debt develops. It could include anything from using different terminology to describe your products to not telling a consistent story about your brand.
What’s the cost of communication debt? Lower sales and poor customer service — because everyone’s on a different page.
How to avoid communication debt
If you want to keep communication debt from piling up, it’s important to ensure that your communications meet the needs of both internal stakeholders and potential customers.
To get everyone back on the same page and improve communications, apply these strategies in your business:
- Make sales and marketing talk to each other. Sales, which has the most direct contact with customers, should talk to marketing about customers’ needs so that the marketing team doesn’t have to guess at a message.
- Develop and use a common terminology. Know what to call your products, services, and even your customers. Are they your customers, users, clients, or members? Regulating your language helps you stay consistent with every aspect of your message.
- Agree on and set clear goals. Determine what each department’s goal is and how it works toward the ultimate goal: conversions. When each department understands what the others need from it and what the other departments’ own goals are (whether website visits, leads, or conversions), it’s easier to work together to accomplish those goals.
- Set up better systems of communication. Foster information flow between all departments so that everyone stays on the same page.
Ensure more consistent external communication
Even with good internal communications in place, you can’t just fly by the seat of your pants with your marketing and expect it to represent your business well. Keep your message to prospects and customers consistent.
- Create documentation outlining your message and how to use it, and distribute it to all departments.
- Establish a process to ensure that marketing newsletters, blogs, Web copy, and other essential content are developed and reviewed in accordance with the agreed-on message.
- Familiarize your teams so that the people producing your content are familiar with your products and services, well-informed about your message and brand, and skilled at communicating that message and the value of your offerings to your prospects and existing customers.
- Finally, be consistent not just with what you communicate, but how often. If you have a blog, post at regular intervals. If you have a monthly or quarterly newsletter, send it every month or quarter as planned. If you start slacking off, communication debt really begins to accrue!
What if you don’t have the time or expertise to establish systems for consistent marketing? Consider outsourcing your content marketing to professionals — a team of writers, designers, and marketing experts who have the necessary experience and focus to keep each marketing effort on track with your goals.