The pressure on marketers to perform and drive impact grows daily, as does their to-do lists. Realistically, there isn’t enough time in the workday to do it all and your personal life starts making sacrifices. Missed dinners, no-show at spin class, and negotiations with the babysitter - does this sound familiar? You need a solution for working more efficiently.
Advice for creating marketing efficiency usually involves buzzwords like growth-hacking, referral program, or earned media. How is increasing workload going to create efficiency when marketers are scrambling to keep up with an ever growing list of asks? It’s not - this is bad advice and won’t have the radical effect that you need.
Some of those ideas could help in the future, but first you need to get your current situation (ie lack of efficiency) under control. Here are five things you can start doing today that will improve your marketing team.
1. Reduce time spent on budget and project management
A common issue for marketers is planning - first there’s planning season to line everything up for next year, then there’s planning maintenance throughout the year when budgets shift or project deadlines change and you need to react quickly. At least 6 days per person per quarter are spent on planning, budgeting, and measuring ROI. That adds up to a minimum of 24 days - essentially an entire month - each year that your team is spending on budget and project management when they could be acting on marketing activities.
How do you break this cycle? Invest in marketing budget software and a project management tool that will eliminate manual work and spreadsheet maintenance for your team.
2. Establish a framework of processes
Maybe you already have a planning tool and it’s hasn’t gotten you anywhere. It could be the product, or it could be that your team doesn’t have an established framework of processes to shape their workflow. This is a really important area to focus on that - like efficiency - isn’t very exciting, but will reap massive benefits.
Processes doesn’t mean no creativity. Keep taking risks with new marketing activities and campaigns, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel when you’re establishing the workflow for a trade show presentation or webinar. Creating a framework that keeps everyone in lockstep will save time and energy that would be better spent on marketing activities. Use that free time for more brainstorming sessions or enjoying the bandwidth to actually bring some of your great ideas to life!
3. Create alignment within the team
Establish a regular meeting cycle that works for your team. It might be a 10 minute stand-up every morning or a longer check-in meeting once a week - whatever cadence works best for you. The purpose is to have everyone share their main focus for this week and any issues that are preventing them from executing on it.
These meetings are great because you leave knowing everyone’s priorities for the week and maybe even a solution to the blocker you were facing. If you have a big marketing team that requires more than two pizzas to feed (see Jeff Bezos’s rule), hold meetings in small groups - and maybe reconsider your team structure. The longer you wait to focus on team alignment, the farther people and activities grow apart and it will make bringing them together a lot more difficult.
4. Eliminate redundant spend and activities by increasing visibility into programs
No one wants to think that their team is flushing cash down the drain by investing in marketing activities that produce zero ROI. The problem is determining which programs aren’t returning enough investment to justify the cost, and knowing where you can move those dollars to make a bigger impact.
To find the programs that are hemorrhaging cash, you need to start mapping revenue outcomes back to your initial investments. If you don’t know how much you initially invested in a program, you have no hope of knowing if it was a good decision, and you definitely don’t want to make the same mistake year after year. Find yourself a marketing performance management platform that empowers you to map revenue to investment, track the data, and understand the results.
5. Maximize the work your team is currently doing
If Demand Gen is organizing a webinar, your copywriter or content marketer should be working on a piece to support it. Conversely if there are themes that your marketing organization wants to talk about this quarter, the programs you run should reflect that. Maximizing the work your team is already doing through cross promotion and shared resources is the smart way to run your marketing department.
Depending on your department size, you may be able to coordinate this using the platforms and processes covered earlier in the list. However, this could be the perfect time to think about hiring a marketing operations genius if you aren’t lucky enough to have one already. Marketing operations is the strategic player that will create efficiency on your team by coordinating the various tools and platforms, team members, campaign messaging, and aligning marketing efforts to the CMO’s priorities and business objectives. Your marketers time is valuable - stop creating in silos and start seeing results from a concerted marketing effort.
Creating efficiency isn’t a one stop shop. Every individual, department, and company has their own battle to fight and has a different adjustment to make. If your team is already doing all of the above, congratulations you’re ahead of the curve! But realistically there is always room for improvement. If you’re following these five steps, are you sure you’re doing it to the maximum? If you and the rest of the team is still tired and searching for more time, you need to make a change. Do something about it today, so that you and your team have a better tomorrow.