How to Turn Marketing Enemies into Allies

Jul 03, 2012

Vya Staff

Great Britain fought boldly against U.S. Independence in the Revolutionary War. Yet nearly flowercannon-116856695_thumb250 years later, the U.S. is aligned with our friendly fellow across the pond on matters from sharing military intelligence to joint peacekeeping missions alike. What we can learn from this effective bilateral partnership between two former enemies is that history doesn’t always etch our fates in stone – and it is, in fact, possible to transform enemies into allies.

Here are some our favorite relationship building insights and tips from Executive and Leadership Development Coach Diane Menendez to help you elevate the performance of your marketing organization and transform marketing enemies into allies

1. Use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality profile to improve your self-awareness and interactions with other functional groups. Cultivating a better awareness of the MBTI preferences of other groups can help to improve your interpersonal relationships and cross-functional collaboration. Remember that preferences are like “handedness”— it’s not better or worse to be right- versus left-handed, or ENTJ versus ESTJ. Different MBTI types simply indicate different ways of getting to the same end result. To use a popular metaphor, operations groups focus on the trees while marketers prefer to focus on the forest. Marketers can improve their cross-functional collaboration and credibility with operations and engineering groups by presenting marketing recommendations as a concrete set of points that will be accomplished in chronological order. Learn to think in terms of trees, in terms of concrete steps over abstract concepts, when needed.

2. Initiate 1:1 relationships with stakeholders who don’t understand marketing, and trust and collaboration will follow. You can build credibility and confidence in the marketing function by finding new and creative ways to add value. One way to do this is by asking cross-functional leaders about their pain points and finding solutions to address them. Even the most critical marketing skeptics can be converted into allies through small wins and freely sharing your knowledge and expertise.

3. Groupthink can be limiting: Seek out mentors from other tribes to improve your understanding of other groups and cross-functional relationships. Some tactical ideas for nurturing your cross-functional leadership skills include asking to attend other functional group meetings as a guest, practicing active listening in cross-functional interactions, and planning time in your daily routine to build strong relationships outside your department. For example, going to lunch with one new cross-functional peer each week can go a long way towards identifying cross-functional synergies and, ultimately, collaboration.

4. Mitigate self-limiting behaviors. This tip is perhaps the most obvious, but it doesn’t matter who your workplace or department is: Credibility is broken or sustained by how effectively you keep promises and follow through with your commitments. Proactive planning can help to balance marketing’s tactical and strategic functions and help to structure your day in a way that enables you to keep commitments and earns the support of your cross-functional peers over time. Another way of stating this principle is simply: Apply the discipline of the marketing function to marketing yourself. Consistently meeting the needs of your internal stakeholders is a proven strategy to break down departmental silos and biases, while transforming impartial cross-functional peers into trusted business partners.


Marketing leaders can effectively convert marketing enemies into allies by improving their awareness of the needs and perspectives of other functional groups. Cross-functional relationships can be built and strengthened by learning about and catering to the various MBTI profiles of other functional groups, initiating 1:1 cross-functional mentoring relationships, and maintaining a stakeholder focus on the departments marketing serves by meeting commitments and keeping appointments as scheduled. For a deeper discussion of relationship building insights and a reading list for further study, check out Diane’s unedited Marketing Organizational Leadership interview.

What relationship building strategy is most important to your marketing organization?

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Tags: marketing strategy, Marketing Organizational Leadership

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