Have you ever spent a day working hard on your company’s marketing strategy from morning ’til night, only to go home wondering what you actually achieved? The answer? Improved marketing efficiency.
Ever completed some work for a project only to find the brief was wrong, and had to do it over? Marketing must keep up with a rapidly changing world and that often means doing things for the first time. In that environment, it can be really difficult to get marketing teams humming, productive and turning out creative, effective and fulfilling work. While we can’t change the landscape in which marketers are operating, here are some marketing efficiency tips – personal, team-based, process-driven and technology-enabled – to help your marketing team run as smoothly as possible.
1. Share your company’s overarching goals with your marketing team (and ensure all marketing activities contribute to them efficiently)
Do you know what your company’s strategic objectives are and how marketing effectively contributes to them? It may seem obvious, but it can often be a mystery exactly how the marketing campaign you’re working on contributes to your company’s business goals.
If you’re in a fast-paced sector where objectives are reassessed quarterly, these changes may not be communicated effectively to the teams and agencies doing the marketing work.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. And ensure your team is updated if those objectives change.
And if you get a brief in which it’s not clear how the project fits your overarching strategy, ask for clarification before you start work.
2. Reassess your annual or quarterly planning processes
Every marketing team can get better at planning. Even when you only just got better at planning.
Go through last year’s activities and assess how they performed, keeping in mind your strategic objectives. If something didn’t work, replace it with something new. Or look at changing it to get a better outcome. If it did work, continue it with any required modifications or updates.
Assess and be realistic about your turnaround and approval times. And give your creative and media agencies appropriate notice to get work done or book a media schedule. Late bookings incur higher media costs. And forcing your agency to work back overnight to do stuff that could have been accommodated in normal business hours with a little more foresight simply gets higher costs charged back to your business, annoys your agency and exhausts the people you pay to be creative.
3. Overhaul your briefing process and boost marketing efficiency
Have a clear idea of what you or your team needs to achieve, or the marketing problem you need solved, before you write the brief.
Don’t brief your agency and think it’s okay to re-brief the project another three times before you get it right.
Re-briefing and asking for work to be re-done because it wasn’t briefed in properly is a common waste of time and resources best spent solving the problem.
Be clear about the issue that needs to be addressed, supply the relevant insights and information that will allow this to be done, but leave your agency or your in-house team some flexibility to propose a creative solution that might not be what you expected.
Ensure every brief includes your objectives and how the success of your campaign will be measured.
4. Implement a daily marketing stand-up
Your IT or digital team has probably been holding a daily standup for years. If you’re not already doing it in marketing, implement or suggest a 15-minute daily morning stand-up, or meeting, in which your team members nominate their key priorities for the day, and anything that’s stopping them from being successful.
This promotes teamwork, removes the mystique around what others are working on, improves communication, removes duplication and helps align the entire team to the priorities of the moment.
It also encourages each team member to be accountable for their daily output. If done right, it should promote mutual problem-solving and a team-based approach to achieving the marketing team’s core objectives. But keep it short and sharp.
5. Build a culture that emphasises teamwork
Most people like to feel like they’re part of a team. Whether you have a regular donut run, celebrate team members’ birthdays, bring in a masseuse for at-desk shoulder massages once a week, or have Friday afternoon drinks, the team that plays together is more likely to work well together.
Promote a culture in which you support each other, and when you have a win, make sure you all celebrate and benefit, even if it’s just with cupcakes in the office.
Incorporate collaboration spaces that encourage conversations and idea exchanges that don’t disrupt other team members.
6. Gotta stop meeting like this
Meetings that run over or lead only to other meetings are another classic marketing black hole. Keep them focused and establish a clear timeframe and agenda.
Invite only those who need to be there, attend only those you need to attend, and ensure people emerge from marketing meetings with activities assigned to individuals and due by a certain time.
7. Encourage active time management
Encourage team members to be proactive about managing their own work time so they can achieve the things they nominate each morning.
Block out creative or writing time on your own calendar so you aren’t interrupted with random meetings that prevent you from meeting your goals.
Limit exposure to email, Twitter, Slack, news headlines or the productivity poison of your choice to set times during the day so it doesn’t eat into your most productive work time.
Use headphones, plant screens or other means to block out distractions. Implement productivity methods such as the Pomodoro Technique to help you get more work done. Take breaks. Reward yourself when you’ve achieved something worthwhile.
8. Use technology to help you organise and automate repetitive tasks.
It’s worth dedicating time each week to automate the repetitive activities that consistently eat up your work time.
This might include setting up rules to help you file your emails, or creating alerts to help you find content around a particular topic. The time you invest up front will pay you back in spades.
And there is a long and ever-growing list of productivity apps designed to help you automate the mundane and manage the chaotic.
Manage your meetings with Do. Set reminders with Google Keep. Take note of just about everything with Evernote. Use a marketing calendar to replace those never-ending spreadsheets. Schedule your social media posts with Buffer. The list goes on…
9. Streamline your internal approval process
Does your marketing team get blamed for the surprisingly long time it takes to get new campaigns to market?
Multi-layered or ineffective internal approval processes are often a major cause of delays.
If you can track your current approval processes, you may find the product manager that loves to point the finger at marketing actually takes weeks to respond and approve the creative for their campaign, holding up the works.
Then you can look for ways to streamline and take non-essential people out of your approvals process to optimise the efficiency of marketing.
Look for bottlenecks and ways to manage them, such as instituting a weekly creative approval meeting with the CMO.
Incorporate departments such as legal and compliance into the process where necessary, but be realistic about the length of time they may require.
10. Re-examine your agency roster
If your company hasn’t rationalised its agency roster for some time, you may find the number of agencies you use has ballooned. Every new CMO likes to bring with them the suppliers they know and with whom they enjoy working.
Procter & Gamble culled the number of agencies it worked with last year by 40 per cent, exited marginal brands and saved $370 million in agency and production costs, with a further $200m expected this year.
The savings were reinvested in media spend and in-store merchandising.
It’s worth considering a regular review process if you don’t already have one to remove duplication between agencies.
11. Clearly define your agency scope of work
In addition, ensure the scope of work for each agency is clearly stated in your service-level agreement (SLA). Be realistic about turnaround times, and be aware that the more you require agencies to re-do work, the more it will cost.
Also consider re-using creative throughout the year, or on different channels, rather than accepting bespoke creative from your agency every time.
Develop templates for catalogues and other regular activity to keep design costs down and increase your speed to market.
12. Reassess your media and channel mix every two years
We all know that media consumption habits, the social media landscape, mobile media habits and so on, are constantly evolving.
Against that backdrop, reassess your channels to market and your media mix at least every two years.
That may not mean scaling back your mainstream media spend. But it should mean re-channelling budgets to what is giving you the best return.
13. If it moves, measure it!
If you can’t measure it, how can you improve it?
Measure everything you can in marketing from internal approval times to campaign development time to social media engagement, website visits, time spent reading your blogs, advertising impressions, readership, views, viewers, marketing qualified leads, and so on.
Develop a plan to move the metrics that need fixing in the right direction, break it down into steps and implement it.
Measure again. Review. Set new goals. Repeat.
14. Be the master of your own intellectual property
Invest in a digital asset management system that enables you to use and re-use your own creative assets for content marketing and social media where suitable without recourse to your creative agency.
This saves time, allows you to be more agile and responsive, increases your speed to market and will save you money.
It will also ensure more of the work you commission actually gets used, rather than gathering dust, unseen, in an off-site archive.
15. Optimise marketing efficiency by managing risk
Attracting the attention of the regulators can be expensive, so it pays to manage your marketing risk as efficiently as possible.
Do you know what campaigns you have in market at any given time? Are clashing messages going out? Can you track how a contentious campaign the CMO never approved made it to market?
Consider implementing a marketing operations platform or workflow management tool that gives you visibility over all your marketing activity.
A marketing operations platform that allows you to record mark-ups and versions of creative work and mandates checking by legal and compliance teams where necessary will manage or eliminate your marketing risk and help ensure your brand makes headlines for the right reasons.
16. Provide for flexible work arrangements
It’s so 20th-century to expect people to do all their best work at their desk.
Allow people to get their work done in the places or times that suit them, including starting early, or completing a project from the café on the corner to minimise disruptions.
Provide quiet, creative or breakout corners to help people do this in the office.
17. Implement Agile marketing methods
If you’re already holding a morning marketing standup you may be on the way towards implementing Agile marketing methodologies. Developed for the software industry, Agile replaced long-term projects that were researched extensively in advance with “short-term, customer-focused iterative projects that improve responsiveness and relevance”.
The principles of Agile include:
- Prioritising constantly around shorter planning cycles
- Using data to make decisions
- Being iterative and experimental
- Being clear and transparent around objectives, activity, and achievements
- Being collaborative and breaking down silos
- Empowering staff by bringing them as close as possible to the decision-making
- Being customer-centric.
18. If you can’t ‘do’ Agile, be as agile as you can
If Agile methodologies are a bridge too far, be as agile as you can.
That could include implementing a test-and-learn culture and promoting continual improvement, as well as a commitment to data and measurement, and maximising efficiency over time. Communicate all learnings. What works for one team may be applicable to another.
19. Don’t micromanage
If you’re managing a team, set your expectations up front. Do whatever it takes to make the standard clear. Get your team to play back to you what that standard is, to check you have been clear. Then let your team go for it, with the regular checks and balances in place.
Attempting to triple-check every single piece of communication pushes out timelines, kills responsiveness and innovation, and sends the strong message you don’t trust your team.
Worse than that, it creates a culture in which team members doubt themselves and no one takes the initiative.
20. Reward or incentivise teams to do outstanding work
This might include going above and beyond the call of duty to get some work completed by deadline, applying lateral thought to a marketing problem to come up with an ingenious solution, creating a breakthrough piece of content, or breaking barriers in terms of subscriber numbers.
Recognise those team members and communicate their achievements to build a culture of over-achievement.
Gamify it and reward outstanding efforts to make marketing success and achievement both sustainable and fun for your team.
To find out how Simple’s marketing operations platform can help your team improve marketing efficiency, Book a Demo.