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Shadow Marketing

Who is killing your brand within your organization?

By Kate John
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Sorry about the dramatic heading but I honestly feel that people who play havoc with the corporate logo or template are seriously killing the brand and seriously damaging the reputation. Every time someone tries to do that, your brand identity is at stake.

As a marketing professional, it is nightmarish for me to make mockery of the company logo and templates. I get utterly irritated to see images or logos being ruthlessly stretched to a point where they are no longer recognizable. Yes, I’m trying to tell you how distressing Shadow Marketing is. There is a lot of conflict between sales and marketing teams because of – yes, you guessed it right – Shadow Marketing. For example, the sales team, in a lot of situations, will roll out their own email campaigns without keeping the marketing team in loop.

Shadow Marketing

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Shadow Marketing is often compared with Shadow IT. We understand Shadow IT as the use of software by people in the organization without explicit permission. To define, Shadow Marketing is when groups, other than Marketing of course, start to do things their own way that somewhat threatens the marketing strategy and execution. It is not just limited to Marketing but it can happen with other departments too. For example, what if the Marketing department purchases something from a vendor not in the list of approved vendor. That will be bypassing the Purchasing department. There might be restrictions from the Legal department on what to publish (or not publish) on social media channels.

For organizations using marketing software or tools or CRM, the IT department has a lot of control over how it is adopted, configured and distributed. The tool is a key driving factor to superior customer experience and the competitiveness of the brand. This, of course, has become really critical as consumers a brand to give a holistic experience. They are looking for instant gratification, and not having to go through the trouble of filling forms. Single registration might sound like an exciting idea and the IT department can even enable it but it will be difficult to qualify leads from junk in that case and obviously something that the marketing department does not want.

Can the issue of Shadow Marketing be tackled?

Yes, indeed.

To do that the most important that a marketing leader needs to do is to make the reason for their existence clear to all departments. The role of the marketing team is to create demand and generate revenue. To facilitate that they use a number of engines, for example the sales collateral. But if the sales people are not able to use the collateral when they need it, the marketing unit will continue to be a cost center for the organization.

The marketing leader should ensure that they are able to provide all the support and there are no issues related to accessibility or expectations.

Make people in the organization aware of the marketing strategy, let everyone understand the content strategy, become aware of all the engines used, and of course the key focus areas. Incorporate the feedback from other departments, encourage inter-departmental dialogue, and work towards making your marketing strategy useful to all.

I’d also like to call the marketing teams as tech marketing now. These teams cannot do without technology, and of course we need the IT department’s buy-in to implement a CRM, marketing automation and other software.

Do you some more ideas on how to curb Shadow Marketing and protect your brand? Speak to one of our all-rounder marketing experts.


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