Communication Issues in Marketing

So I was volunteered to join the “Communications Task Force” at work, and told to compile a list of common issues that we faced in the Marketing Department. As I brainstormed, it occurred to me that these problems are not just part of our corporate culture but could pertain to everyday life for many people, so I’m sharing my Task Force notes here.


Communication Issues

1. Lack of two-way communication/feedback.


a. A proof of a project is sent out, but no changes, approval or suggestions are received.

b. Sometimes Management talks at us rather than with us. Discussions turn into speeches as the manager (or other forceful personality) dominates the conversation. Associates can be uncomfortable with giving feedback or asking questions in this situation.

c. An associate shares data in the first line of an e-mail message and then asks a question concerning the data in the second line of the message. The reply says only “Thanks!”


2.  Lack of respectful listening.


a. An associate may dismiss the words of another if they feel that person is unimportant, not as knowledgeable/intelligent, or biased in their opinions.

b. Focusing on ourselves rather than on the speaker (interrupting, thinking of what you want to say next while the other person is still talking, not trying to see things from their point of view).


3.  Assuming that everyone already knows what is going on and has all the information they need.


a. Not sending out a reminder, or not having contact with everyone involved in the project after the initial meeting/discussion.

b. Taking for granted that supervisors will notify you of decisions that are made, or thinking that your supervisor will pass on what you tell them to everyone you wish to have the information.


4.  Concentrating only on the surface basics, or only on part of what is said or written.

(Straight facts/data are assumed to be the entire content of many communications; but especially with ideas, interpretations, and expressing feelings, “Reading between the lines” and being aware of non-verbal communication increases understanding.)


a. The intended high importance of a message is not conveyed to the listener, if they do not correctly interpret the speaker’s choice of words, urgent tone of voice, or non-verbal cues of stress.

b. Thinking that a co-worker is telling you about all the projects they have in progress so that you are notified of how busy and productive they are, then later realizing that they were actually trying to ask for help in an indirect manner.


5.  Lack of awareness of conflicting styles of communication.

Written, verbal, non-verbal communication – what is appropriate depends on context, and on what each person is comfortable with, and what’s in compliance with procedures/processes that are in place for similar situations.


a. An e-mail is sent out but not responded to, or a phone call is never answered. The sender/caller is unaware that the recipient prefers in-person communication.

b. Comments on a PDF proof are inconsistent between associates who are writing them, or some comments are delivered verbally or through e-mail instead of on the proof and become lost.


6. Under-communicating due to always being in a hurry.


a. Not discussing and planning projects thoroughly -- Instead of waiting a day or two until the dust settles and more details can be gathered, we’re rushing something out then having 14 rounds of revisions and creating frustration.

b. Often in haste a decision is made (such as changes to Grand Opening dates) that affects others and is not communicated through all departments involved—creative materials, database marketing, merchandising, stores, etc.


In summary, this is a starting point.

To realize what's going on, to share those realizations and observations, is only the first step. Motivating ourselves and those we work with to try and improve communication is a further challenge. Implementing ideas for change will require additional brainstorming, adaptation, and cooperation. Are we up to the task?