One person I talked with almost daily with was the man who worked as the ersatz concierge of the hotel where we stayed. Although concierge wasn’t his official function, he was the go-to guy if you needed something done in the hotel or you needed information about the city.
I remember one conversation I had with him where he mentioned how hard it was to get repair work done in his apartment. He lived in one of the large housing blocks near the hotel. While they looked great on the outside, with fresh coats of paint and newly-planted flowers and bushes, the insides left a lot to be desired. They were livable, to be sure, but getting repairs done was next to impossible at times.
As he reflected on the problem, I asked him why he could not appeal to the owners of the building and complain about the maintenance staff. He replied that the building in which he lived was still owned by the government, so there was really no one he could complain to. He sighed and said something which has stuck to me to this day: “When something is owned by everyone, it’s owned by no one.”
A Champion Is Needed
Every cause needs a champion; someone who is ready to own that cause and work to rally people around to raise awareness, help fix the problem, solve the issue. Without someone who’s willing to step up and speak up, an issue may be acknowledged, even acted upon to a certain degree, but it will never get the full attention it deserves.
This is true for your company’s Web marketing efforts. If different departments “own” different parts of the Web activities and no one is willing to champion the total cause, it will be mediocre at best and not get the results it could. Someone needs to own own the whole thing and make sure all is coordinated properly: Website Look and Feel, Back-End Functionality, SEO, Social Media, PPC, and Banner Campaigns. Certainly, one person probably can’t handle actually doing all those jobs, but someone needs to make sure they all get done.
It takes a team to pull off a good Web marketing effort. It’s very rare in a corporate setting that a bunch of marketers and IT people will be put together in a special “Web Department.” Because of the many disciplines involved, a corporate Web marketing team will likely be made up of people from different departments and outside vendors and consultants. And each of those departments and outside agencies may or may not find their part of the Web marketing pie important when compared with other responsibilities they have.
Without someone coordinating the many different pieces, the whole scheme ends up looking like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle right out of the box. While there may be some random pieces stuck together, the picture isn’t going to look quite right. It certainly won’t look as nice as when someone takes the time to put the pieces together as they are meant to be.
It Takes A Linchpin
Seth Godin, in his book “Linchpin,” offers the suggestion that anyone can be the one person in an organization who holds the whole thing together. This is the person who thinks outside the normal parameters of their “job” and does what is needed to advance the cause of the team. Like the small part of a machine which holds different pieces together so they can work properly, the Linchpin person helps hold team members together in order that they may work properly as part of the whole.
Here’s the thing: In many companies there is no one person designated to be “in charge” of the organization’s Web marketing efforts. Someone may very well need to step up and just do it. No asking, no getting permission, no official tasking – just do it.
To be sure, to take on such a task isn’t easy. You need to have a passion for it or you’ll burn out. You need to be a bit thick-skinned, too, because some will give you a hard time about your new, albeit, unofficial role. Your boss may give you a hard time, the folks in other departments may also. But, the more you stick to your guns, explain why it’s important, and back up the explanation with facts and data from authoritative sources, the more support you will gather and the more your team will coalesce into a functioning unit.
Photo by Steve Snodgrass used under Creative Commons license.
Elmer Boutin is webmaster for Wilsonart International. Read Elmer Boutin’s full PubCon speaker biography here.