I see marketing wisdom (and mistakes) in all sorts of places, but I never thought I’d spot a valuable lesson when a relative faced a medical emergency.
Hospitals are amazing places, and doctors and surgeons are astonishingly intelligent people. But the care my family member received was something less than spectacular for a very simple reason: all those doctors, surgeons, and the rest of the staff acted completely independently.
Despite working together under one roof, and despite the fact that they all knew each other well (evidenced by remarks like “oh, he’s a great cardiologist”), the overall quality of care was lousy and very confused. The case was complicated enough that four separate specialists were involved at once, but none of them seemed to pay attention to what the others were doing.
One would issue specific instructions, and the next would show up an hour later with instructions that countermanded the first’s. Another would prescribe a treatment that caused a side effect for which the fourth would prescribe something else. And if they were unable to communicate with each other, you can imagine how little was shared with a mere mortal like me.
So what does all this have to with marketing? I found the entire experience to be the ideal metaphor for the way far too many companies handle marketing communications. No matter how their operations are structured, they tend to view all of the activities as distinct. The people in charge of advertising don’t really work with the people handling the public relations. None of them really know what the direct marketing folks are up to, and the trade show team might as well be in another country. The website? Oh, does that fall under marketing?
“Unless the designer and I managed some sort of cosmic connection, odds are good that the structure and length of my copy won’t quite dovetail with her design.”
Even within well-run departments, it often happens on a smaller scale with individual projects. On more occasions than I’d like to remember, I’ve received an assignment to create copy for something – let’s say a brochure – and learned only after turning in a first draft that a graphic designer had been simultaneously working on the layout. Unless the designer and I managed some sort of cosmic connection, odds are good that the structure and length of my copy won’t quite dovetail with her design. We’ll work out the differences, but imagine how much time (and money) could have been saved with a simple upfront conversation or two.
Granted, this all-too-common malady probably isn’t fatal, but it sure doesn’t do much for the health of the company or its marketing efforts. Like many problems, it’s usually the result of rushing to save time, and usually ends up costing far more of that precious commodity.
The prescription isn’t a tough one, either. All it takes is a little more communication and coordination between departments, vendors, and team members.
Had the doctors done that, my family member would probably have spent a lot less time in the hospital. And if you do the same, you just might keep your own operation out of the ER.