Somewhere in the subtext of yesterday’s post about what R.O.I. is and isn’t lives the realization that business managers and marketing people speak different languages. A few of you touched on this in your comments, so great job zeroing-in on the fact that each side has its own unique vocabulary, its own nomenclature, it’s own lingo. Most of the time, that’s all fine and good, but when the two come together to discuss business objectives (and ROI), miscommunication ensues. One side says one thing and the other hears something else altogether. Before you know it, execution misses the mark, expectations from both sides are crushed, and everyone is shaking their heads wondering what happened.

“Did you hear them say the wanted X?”

“Yeah, I did! That’s what they said they wanted.”

Except what the agency folks thought they heard wasn’t X at all.

So now, a little bit of organizational psychobabble that might actually come in handy, for once:

The first step in eliminating a dysfunction is to recognize that there is dysfunction. (Situational Awareness)

The second step in eliminating dysfunction is to understand the dysfunction. (Discovery and Analysis)

The third step in eliminating dysfunction is to accept the nature of the dysfunction. (Reckoning and Confirmation)

The fourth step in eliminating dysfunction is to address the dysfunction. (Solution and Execution)

Start with step one and work your way up to step four. Once you get there, here’s what you need to do:

If you’re on the agency/service provider side of the fence, start hanging out with business people. (Yes, the ones wearing the suits and ties. The ones who speak in acronyms and talk about revenue, ROI, payroll, net new customers, disti channels and stuff you can’t wrap your mind around.) Pick their brains. Ask them to explain what matters to them the most. What they get goaled on. How they measure success in their organizations. Ask them to clarify what they are talking about, even if that means explaining it all to you like you are a five-year-old.You need to learn this stuff: The lingo, the culture, the priorities, the aspirations, etc. Learn their business, their culture and their lingo.

If you’re on the business/client side, start mentoring your agency reps and marketing folks. Immerse them into your company culture. Show them how your business makes money. Show them how you are structured and why. Teach them your own unique vernacular. Show them what data you capture and what you do with it. Frame for them what matters most to you as a business leader. Help them see your business from your point of view. Teach them how you think. Get them on the same wavelength as you.

If you can do this, if you follow these simple suggestions, I promise you that your agency-client relationship will radically improve in a matter of weeks. Six months from now, you will be functioning like a well-oiled machine.

Wouldn’t that be swell?

Could it be as simple as setting up a mentoring program between client and agency or business and marketing folks? Is that all it would take for this communication and cultural rift to go bye-bye?

You bet.

Have a great Thursday, everyone. (And um… we’re back on R.O.I. tomorrow. Andrew Mueller found a Social Media R.O.I. calculator I need to go over with you.)