Home » Our thinking » Harnessing the power of cross-functional teams to create effective marketing strategies

Harnessing the power of cross-functional teams to create effective marketing strategies

4 mins read
Gary Durkin

In recent years, marketing has evolved rapidly along with advances in technology and data collection, allowing for hyper-focused campaigns led by data-driven insights. However, technology alone is not a magic bullet; developing a robust marketing strategy is as critical as ever; which is where the importance of cross-functional, strategic marketing planning comes into play.

Here we explore why involving diverse functional teams in marketing strategy development is crucial and how it can be done effectively.

It’s not just about box-ticking: The role of cross-functional teams in marketing strategy

While the marketing team traditionally holds the reins for creating and setting the marketing strategy, true success stems from collaborative efforts. Engaging key functions such as sales, medical, publications, and regulatory teams from the early stages of brand strategy development ensures a well-rounded approach. This collaboration is not just about ticking boxes; it’s about harnessing the unique strengths and insights each function brings to the table.

Why include cross-functional teams?

Diverse perspectives and insights

Each function within an organization offers a unique perspective shaped by their specific roles and experiences. When these diverse insights are pooled together, the marketing strategy becomes more holistic and relevant. For example, the medical team’s understanding of the latest research and patient needs can ensure that the strategy is clinically sound and aligned with ongoing medical activities. This alignment is crucial for credibility and effectiveness in the healthcare sector.

Increased motivation and innovation

Including those who will be impacted by the strategy fosters a sense of ownership and motivation. When team members feel invested in the strategy, they are more likely to contribute innovative ideas and make informed decisions. Take the sales team, for instance. Their direct interactions with healthcare professionals provide them with valuable insights into what appeals to this audience. Their suggestions can lead to more targeted and effective communication strategies.

Maximizing cross-functional involvement

To truly benefit from cross-functional collaboration, a structured approach is essential:

  • Identify key functions:
    Based on the objective, determine which functions need to be involved. Consider their potential impact, influence, and the insights they can provide.
  • Set shared, clear objectives:
    Define SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) common objectives for the strategy. Ones that every function can stand behind. This provides a clear direction and purpose.
  • Nurture team-work:
    Identify the processes you need to put in place to drive effective team-work and nurture the skills and capabilities that will drive this e.g. regular communication, problem-solving, active listening, application of growth mindset etc.
  • Collaborate on decisions:
    Ensure that all decisions are made collaboratively but that the right stakeholders have approval status. Too many cooks and you’ll never move forwards but not respecting and considering the unique expertise of each function could result in ineffective cross-functional delivery and subpar performance.
  • Review, review, review:
    Once the strategy has been implemented and activated, review the process with the team, review performance against the strategy and review your activations. By discussing what worked well and identifying areas for improvement for future strategies you will be driving an effective culture of collaboration and the creation of high quality marketing strategies that drive business performance.
  • Drive collective efficacy*:
    By bringing together all of the above; i.e. creating a group of people who all believe in the value and relevance of your strategy, who have clear team processes set up to drive success, and who celebrate, recognize and learn from experience, you will drive high collective efficacy. This, in turn, will lead to stronger belief in the team as a whole, and drive a “maybe I can, but I’m certain we can” mindset which sets the stage for an incredibly effective and collaborative environment.

How can you upskill your teams to ensure your marketing strategies are cross-functional in nature and drive high-quality outputs?

Investing in relevant marketing training for cross-functional teams is essential to ensure effective collaboration. A well-rounded training program should include:

  • Marketing Fundamentals:
    To ensure a baseline understanding of general marketing principles; the foundations that will set you up for success.
  • Role-Specific Training:
    Tailored to reflect each function’s unique contribution to the marketing strategy; empowering your teams to drive for high performance.
  • Soft Skills Training:
    Focusing on communication, collaboration, and strategic problem-solving skills; creating opportunities that will drive cross-functional collaboration.

In Summary

Developing a successful marketing strategy is not a solitary endeavor. It requires the collective effort of cross-functional teams that bring diverse perspectives and expertise. Early involvement of these key functions leads to stronger, more effective strategies. By investing in marketing training for cross-functional teams, organizations can ensure that every team member feels valued, motivated, and well-prepared to contribute to the strategy’s success. This collaborative approach not only enhances the strategy but also paves the way for seamless and successful execution.



*The Science of Collaboration Study by Inizio Engage XD, 2023