Ask any marketer the thing that most often causes them to miss a deadline and they’ll tell you: approvals. Or the lack thereof. In other words, delays and bottlenecks in the approval stages of their marketing workflow are unnecessarily lengthening their go-to-market time.
Unfortunately, when they’re in the middle of the marketing process, often there’s not that much — short of making a nuisance of themselves or stalking people — that they can do about it.
So we thought we’d shine a light on the vexed issue of marketing approvals by listing the most common approver types that can be problematic for marketing teams.
We’ve looked around and identified 10 different kinds. You may know of others. Have a read, and feel free to contribute your own views on marketing approvals in the comments section.
1. AWOL Approver
The Absent Without Leave Approver goes AWOL without approving or rejecting the marketing work for which you need their sign-off. Why? No one is quite sure — they didn’t say before they went AWOL.
Perhaps they’re not sure what they think of the campaign they’re supposed to be approving. Maybe they don’t like it but they can’t articulate why. Perhaps it wasn’t the creative concept they would have chosen. Doesn’t matter. Until you get their feedback your marketing initiative can’t progress, leaving you stuck in limbo until they get back to you.
2. Consensus Approver
The Consensus approver relies on groupthink to get by. ‘Is this creative concept right for our brand? I’m in two minds. What do you think? Yeah, I thought so too.’
Sometimes you can talk them round. Other times someone else gets in their ear and it’s back to the drawing board. Either way, it takes time to show marketing work to the entire team one by one and get a fix on what the consensus actually is. That’s when the prospect of meeting your media booking deadline starts to slip away before your very eyes.
3. The Oscillator
It’s okay to change your mind. No, it’s not. Yes, it is. No… The Oscillator is unpredictable. One minute they love the campaign you’ve been working hard to pull together. Then they get up one morning, and suddenly, they hate it. Why? No one knows.
It doesn’t matter that you can show the many emails they sent explaining how much they love the idea. When it’s over, it’s over. Best move on, and try to get the next campaign signed off before they change their mind again.
4. The Fiddler
The Fiddler is fussy. They like to play around with things. Like the headline. Or maybe the copy. Or the colour of the shirt the main character is wearing. Can we change that?
It wouldn’t be so bad if they did all their fiddling in one go. Unfortunately, they’re always finding new things with which to fiddle. Suddenly you’ve gone back to your agency with five rounds of revisions instead of three. Your SLA is out the door and your budget is blown.
5. The Second-Guesser
The Second-Guesser, sometimes known as the Manager-Upper, doesn’t really have an opinion of their own. But they have a pretty fair idea what their own boss will say about the campaign, so they make changes based on that.
They don’t consult their boss, of course, so they often get it wrong. So once you’ve made their changes, you know you’ll probably have to go back to the agency to change it again.
Unfortunately the creative idea will have been watered down so many times by then, it will hardly be worth it. May as well just re-run last year’s campaign instead.
6. The Blame-Shifter
The Blame-Shifter wasn’t there when that was approved. Nevermind that you have the email they sent when they were supposedly on leave. It never happened. They never saw it. Maybe someone else sent that from their laptop. In fact, the agency did it without checking with them at all.
You could show that the Blame-shifter did approve it, of course, but that would just be shooting yourself in the foot. Best blame the agency, fix the problem, and get back to the actual work of marketing.
7. On-The-Fly Approver
The On-The-Fly approver says yes, gets the work out the door, and worries about it later. Most of the time, they get away with it. Occasionally, it’s a shit-storm in the making. Did anyone check with legal? Is that the correct disclaimer? Who knows? You can always fix it online if you need to.
In the meantime, isn’t it amazing how much work the team is getting through? So productive!
8. The Perfectionist
The Perfectionist is a better copywriter than your copywriter, and a better designer than your finished artist. Getting something perfect is so much more important than getting it done. No one is ever putting an apostrophe in the wrong place on their watch. Every i will be dotted and every t crossed.
That’s partly because only one in four campaigns actually gets sent. We know for whom that bell tolls, and it’s you.
Speed is important to the Ask-For-Forgiveness approver, and so is their opinion. It’s more important than what their boss thinks. After all, this is the job they’re being paid to do, and they’re determined to do it.
If it all goes to hell in a handbasket later, well, at least they don’t duck and weave too much. They stand up, hand on heart, and say ‘Ok. We stuffed up there. But look at these other nine campaigns we got out without a hitch’.
10. The Overly Agile Approver
Eighty per cent right is good enough for the Overly Agile approver. Actually, why wait for 80% – let’s go with 60%. In fact, let’s change direction completely. And then 50% right will have to do.
It’s not sloppy to send work out not quite correctly formatted, or in the old font. It’s the minimum viable product. Will it work? Yes. Is it the best it could be? The next version will be better. Unless it’s something less than an MVP, in which case you have to stop and fix it before you can do anything else.
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Get marketing approvals on track with a marketing resource management system
Do any of these approvers sound familiar? Are any of them complicating or slowing down your marketing process?
If so, perhaps you need a marketing resource management system, to help your team manage and automate marketing approvals.
A marketing resource management system will build the right amount of approval time into your marketing workflow and ensure the right person signs off on the work every time, with all their amendments recorded.
That makes it simpler and faster to meet your deadlines and get your marketing initiatives to market — on time, on brief and on budget.
Simple’s marketing resource management system helps enterprise marketing teams to plan, review, approve and optimise their marketing activity to create exceptional customer experiences across all channels. Book a Demo to see how it works.