26 Jul Navigating the rapids of marketing operations
All too often that initial enthusiasm and creativity buzz of a new marketing concept is squashed due to internal blockers, disjointed processes, teams working in silos and stakeholder conflict. As time to market drags, marketing relevance fades, as does your will to live…It doesn’t have to be this way though.
Marketing operations should be an opportunity accelerator, guiding the marketing organisation into providing real value to the company, by supporting the whole enterprise into better working practices allowing revenue opportunities to be met.
TIME FOR CHANGE
“I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better”. –Georg C. Lichtenberg
Convincing people to change is one thing, getting them to actually change is something else. They get the invite, they listen, there is a reassuring agreement that the overall process needs change. But how easy is it to slip back into the comfort zone and existing ways of working?
The high-level steps to deliver a piece of marketing could be considered the same across any industry, a concept is born; worked on; signed off; then deployed. Simple, isn’t it?
If you can apply such simplistic logic across industries why can’t that be applied within the same organisation across marketing teams? How has this process become so different, complex and administrative heavy? Unfortunately, all to easily.
Teams, or even individuals, create their own processes, which evolve over time to suit their needs. Specific documentation is generated; different technologies are utilised; and procedure knowledge to answer why we produce something has since left the building…
Although seemingly working in silo that is rarely the case. Interaction across teams and departments such as finance, legal, and external agencies are still happening its just that how those interactions happen is not efficient.
A single organisation working with a single agency, providing a completely different set of documentation to them depending on what internal team it came from. Sounds crazy, but it happens.
A collaborative effort
Enforcing a new process that has had little involvement from the individuals it will directly impact is doomed for failure.
Bring the teams together, understand their current working practices: –
- What process do they follow?
- Who do they interact with?
- What are their constraints?
- What documents are created, when and for whom are they intended?
Challenge the as-is
This process is by no means easy, push to understand the rationale behind why something is done. That spreadsheet you complete for department X, what do they actually do with it?
Agree the to-be
Design the new consistent approach: –
- Define the marketing process – Providing each entity with what they need when they need it
- Limit documentation – essential detail only to allow development, report on and audit
- Remove duplication of effort – if you have already provided information don’t recreate it
- Technology is your friend – process automation, collaboration, auditable
SUPPORT AND GUIDANCE
The introduction of new operational processes and sometimes new technology to manage operations can cause uncertainty for individuals. A couple hours training and a ‘get on with it’ is not enough.
It is imperative to have a support structure in place to eliminate any challenges as soon as they occur. Confidence and trust in anything new can be quickly be lost and a negative perception can transform into reality.
KEEP THE FAITH
“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts”. Arnold Bennett
Hands up who has been guilty of saying “It was easier the old way”? It can be too easy to turn against change and lose sight of the bigger picture before giving it a chance. No-one should expect to get it right first time around.
REVIEW AND IMPROVE
Strike a balance of process stability and continual improvements. Continue to evolve operations with the business, don’t let the operation restrict the business from growing. Listen to what is or is not working, bring people together again, develop and tweak where necessary.
Written by Ben Wyatt