Think Outside Your Silo for Marketing Innovation

Apr 17, 2012

Vya Staff

DocuStar’s MarketHUB+ marketing resource management system is a finalist for the Cincinnati USA Innovation Awards to be announced tonight! In the spirit of that designation, below we share some of our ideas to encourage marketing innovation.

Marketing innovation cannot and should not be an isolated process. One of the pitfalls of Grain-bins-iStock-000017669207XSmall_thumbfunctional silos is that information can tend to stay within the department, but with so many departments directly interacting with customers in the customer value chain, it’s critical to engage all functional groups in the innovation process to help inspire new ideas. Here are four suggestions:

1. Share insights. The transition towards software as a service (SaaS) platforms puts more data the hands of business managers than ever before, and this data should be applied to engage cross-functional leaders in the marketing innovation process. Gather external and internal market research and data and schedule an ideation session with a team of cross-functional leaders and line-level employees. Your line-level employees especially offer important insights into your branding and process strengths and weaknesses because of their direct interaction with customers, so be sure to include them.

2. Ask questions. Cultivate a culture that rewards challenging the status quo and encourages innovative solutions to business challenges, including incremental innovations that can become breakthrough innovations over time. Early in its startup days, Airbnb bounced ideas with Y-Combinator’s Paul Graham to uncover new opportunities. Airbnb’s focus on an initially small process change (taking photos for their customers rather than allowing them to submit photos) led to a breakthrough and repeatable process innovation used worldwide.

3. Build cross-functional relationships. The relationships you build with cross-functional leaders can serve as a fruitful bridge to new marketing innovations, and the perspectives of customer-facing sales and service departments are significant keys into product performance, delivery, and service opportunities and challenges. Diane Menendez, an executive and leadership development coach interviewed recently for our Marketing Organizational Leadership blog series, suggests the following tips for building new relationships:

- Make a call to one new person a day in an area outside of your functional expertise

- Ask to attend meetings outside of your functional group to gain more knowledge about how the group interacts

- Go to lunch with one new person a week

4. Leverage information systems. Look to internal chat and collaboration platforms, message boards, and CRM systems to source new ideas for innovation, or use these systems as a platform to engage all company stakeholders – both internal and external – in marketing innovation and collaboration. Internally, marketing resource management systems can be leveraged to empower sales to create innovative marketing messaging, while process workflows provide an automated vehicle to manage reviews and approvals.


Building relationships with cross-functional leaders is an important bridge to sharing ideas, and getting outside of your functional silo encourages marketing innovation by facilitating healthy debate and discussion around business challenges and processes that can lead to breakthrough ideas and innovations. Whether ideas are shared in person or through information systems such as marketing resource management systems, marketing leaders should capitalize on the collective knowledge of their peers to help bolster marketing innovation – and give credit to the departments and leaders who help to blaze new innovations through a collaborative process.


What incremental innovation could have a significant impact on your business?


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Tags: MRM, marketing innovation, marketing resource management

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