A decentralized marketing structure allows a business to market and advertise its products or services with minimal interference or bottlenecks. However, with different teams handling their own projects, a company could end up with siloed processes and incongruent branding efforts that don’t mesh well.

This disparate model can pose challenges when separate teams must come together to work on companywide projects. To make this process easier, a panel of Forbes Communication Council members shared 14 ways to pull everyone in your decentralized marketing structure onto the same page and taking a more symbiotic approach to achieving shared goals.

1. Have Well-Defined Metrics And Processes

The more decentralized a marketing team is, the more the onus is on the CMO to manage it well. I see three approaches working well: Have well-defined, top-down objectives and key results (OKRs) and make them transparent to the team so they can define their own goals. Next, have an operating rhythm to review progress, help teams with bottlenecks and communicate changes. Finally, meet with cross-functional peers regularly to make sure marketing is aligned with them. – Juhi Hajela, BlueStacks

2. Communicate Openly On The Macro And Micro Levels

Keep the lines of communication open on the macro and micro levels. With your marketers and communications leaders located throughout your organization, ask for their help in the early stages, encourage their participation throughout the process and celebrate collective accomplishments together. Keep your other key stakeholder groups engaged with small but impactful meetings and messages. – Kimberly Osborne, UNC Greensboro

3. Track Cross-Team OKRs Using One Tool

Having one tool tracking the OKRs of the whole company and adding cross-team OKRs should be the top goals for your business. Different teams will be on the same page, the collaboration will improve, and you will see improved results in all projects. Of course, there should also be thorough OKR maintenance, such as reviewing intermediary results and managing the understanding of shared aims. – Toma Sabaliauskiene, Nord Security

4. Prioritize Listening

Listening is your best tool. When we start by acknowledging the exceptions head-on and as a priority, we can clear the playing field to advance our plans forward. It is of the utmost importance to have sincere buy-ins from the top executives and team leaders. As marketers, we understand that marketing is collaborative and cross-functional, but don’t assume every department feels the same. – Mollie Barnett, S.M.A.R.T. Company

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5. Create A Collaborative Environment

Key performance indicators are outlined in a collaborative environment, finalized and agreed to. Next, we form a steering committee comprised of various experts across departments to weigh in at critical junctures of the project, providing feedback and approval before proceeding to the next phase. This allows for strong team members to focus on the project without losing diversity of thought as the project progresses. – Stacy Bliek, Integrity Staffing Solutions

6. Develop A Succinct Mission And Process

A mission statement succinctly communicates the reason for the existence of the company. Develop tactics to achieve the mission. Develop a process to execute the tactics, and ask everyone to follow the process to ensure consistency. – Lauren Parr, RepuGen

7. Assign One Owner To Each Project

Make sure each project has one owner so that everyone is clear on who is calling the shots. Then, use a communication system such as Slack or Teams to unify that specific project team around regular and consistent communication. – Holly Tate, Leadr

8. Align On Objective Metrics And Messaging

Two things come to mind when it comes to getting alignment across a decentralized marketing structure. First, have one or two well-thought-out leading and lagging indicators of success. These are numeric and not debatable, and doing this provides focus and direction for all parts of the team. Then, focus on messaging alignment. When message mapping for a campaign, it helps for everyone to be on the same page regarding how to position a topic, product or service. – Michelle Bank, Nuspire

9. Develop A Structured Process

Process is the glue that will hold a decentralized marketing structure together. If you have disparate departments involved in a project, make sure that everyone knows, for example, that updates will be sent out every Monday, sync meetings will happen every Tuesday and so on. The more structure you can add to a given project, the more you’ll feel empowered to create, share and execute. – Melissa Kandel, little word studio

10. Ensure Efficient Internal Communications Processes

A decentralized marketing structure doesn’t mean everyone does what they want. The team has common business goals, and each side should be interested in achieving them by completing their specific marketing goals. I see the CMO’s role here as that of a strategic connector of all parts of the success puzzle when it is all about designing efficient internal communications processes. – Gala Grigoreva, Adsterra

11. Have Accurate Financial Tracking Systems In Place

I think getting everyone on the same page is so deceptively simple that many of us would overcomplicate it. The goal of marketing is to fundamentally make money—as much as possible, but in a sustainable manner, of course. So if your structure is decentralized, then it becomes even more important to have accurate systems in place to be able to quickly and easily identify how much money is being made by each node in your network. – Ross Kernez, HPOne

12. Have Cross-Departmental Champions

As a marketing leader, you should make sure there is at least one other champion in another department who is enthusiastic about the project. Excitement and a purpose that spans business functions can help people rally behind the greater mission of a big effort. – Austin Helton, Tally & Mass, LLC

13. Form Multiple Lines Of Accountability

Disaggregate the hierarchy by forming multiple lines of accountability. One line helps develop people and capabilities to set the standard on how the work is done. The other one focuses on execution, operational excellence and delivering customer value. Then, ensure all lines are laser-focused on a shared goal that can be cascaded and communicated clearly to various decentralized teams. – Susan Hardy, Hitch

14. Create Brief Templates

Briefs can be lifesavers for major initiatives and projects. They provide a central location for everyone to find information and require accountability from the owners of the project. Create brief templates with all key information included in individual sections so that you are consistent and can expand as needed. As an added bonus, these will be great tools to go back to for future planning. – Victoria Zelefsky, The Menkiti Group

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