As a marketer we often talk about identifying customer needs as a way to truly connect with customers. Once those needs are identified, efforts can range from organizations developing products or features, to developing messaging for those products or features. We could also consider customers’ needs beyond that of product features to a more base level of content accuracy. Many would say accuracy is a given and as such it is automatically done. Content accuracy can be a challenge when multiple players are creating marketing communications especially if they are working across multiple locations or regions. Examples of those who might find content accuracy difficult to ensure are large-scale retailers, franchise organizations and companies that utilize local and regional marketing. Layer on top of content accuracy a need to ensure that materials are also brand-elevating and you can have a second challenge.

This is where I found myself while working at a national university with over 95 locations a few years ago. I identified the need for accurate and brand-elevating work used across the university’s multiple locations, each of whom were creating marketing materials. I took five steps with regards to idea generation through senior leadership’s approval of it.

STEP 1: Identify customer need and relate it to improvements between the organization and its customers thus impacting business outcomes.

In my instance the need was accurate content. Increased accuracy would:

  • From the customer’s perspective: increased customers’ beliefs in the university’s quality and reliability
  • From a branding perspective: it helped build the brand and image
  • From the customer’s salespeople: it aided in their ability to manage and build a better relationship with customers.


STEP 2: Determine critical company-wide opportunity and tie it to business outcomes.

In my instance this opportunity increased communications effectiveness and efficiencies. Check out a the differences between the communications effectiveness and efficiencies here.

  • The proposed solution increased communications effectiveness across all locations by ensuring only accurate, brand-elevating work would be seen by customers.
  • The process and policy in support of the solution drove communications efficiencies by aligning accountability with the appropriate functional unit and created service level agreements to ensure the timeliness of the solution.


STEP 3: Establish an all-encompassing solution. Solutions will vary based on your organization, needs and issues. While this needs to be a thoughtful solution it need not be complete. In my opinion, the best way to create the full solution is with inputs from stakeholders and subject matter experts (SMEs).

  • For me the solution was a better way to develop communications across the university that aligned accountability with the appropriate functional unit. This was done through a new policy and guidelines resulting in a 3-Step Review Process.


STEP 4: Align the proposed solution with the company’s culture to increase likelihood of adoption and success.

  • For my situation, two parts of the culture were key to the solution’s adoption and success:
    • Company values of accountability and ownership
    • Company mission of students first


STEP 5: Identify key stakeholders and gain some initial senior leadership buy in prior to presentation at C-level. These efforts should decrease initial friction you might get from the team.

  • For this instance it included marketing leadership, legal and compliance and as well as some local/regional leaders.


Taking an idea from development through execution is the next phase. For me upon the C-suite buy in, a special project was created with both resources and budget. That phase may be best suited to another blog! I really enjoyed leading this effort because I knew it impacted multiple groups in positive ways: (1) students received accurate materials; (2) these materials helped build the university's brand and image; (3) development of the solution built better relationships between the marketing department and functional areas of the university as well as between the salespeople and their customers (students). A nice bonus was that I won a company award called PRIDE (Professional Recognition of Integrity, Dedication, and Excellence) that included a conference in Salt Lake City with other PRIDE winners.



Kokemuller, Neil. “Differences Between Communication Efficiency & Effectiveness.” Chron. Date unknown.


Photo by Amy Mikel: Grand American Hotel, Salt Lake City, UT. December 2012.