I’m sure some people saw the words marketing process in the title and quickly hit the back button. But if you’re still here, it probably means you’re at least neutral on the subject, or better yet, a fan.
For many, process has gained the reputation of being boring, time-consuming, and overly administrative. If it’s not properly planned or managed, a process can indeed become those things. It can start to work against you instead of helping.
But when it’s done well, process can be brilliant, elegant and creative. When exceptional, process can differentiate companies in powerful ways. How businesses consistently do things can actually become as important as the products or services they sell. So why not take what many of your peers view as a “necessary evil”, and transform marketing process into your strategic advantage?
“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”
W. Edwards Deming
What is Process and Why Does it Matter?
Most dictionaries will loosely define a process as “a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result.” Imagine governments, hospitals, sports teams, or software developers without it. A sound process is the only way to get things done when managing high levels of complexity. So what value does reliable process bring to the table?
- It’s predictable, repeatable and scalable
- It defines how people work together
- It provides a documented roadmap of how tasks should be executed
- It helps you plan for contingencies and adapt
- It can be continually refined and improved
Why Marketing Needs Reliable Processes
Every department in an organization relies on good process to operate efficiently. Like other areas of business, marketing has a unique set of characteristics that makes process particularly important. Marketing is complex, very subjective and the stakes are high.
It may seem simple on the surface to some, but there are many moving parts in a well-run program. Dozens if not hundreds of small details for any given project or campaign need to be well-planned and tightly managed. Your reputation is very public, and it’s on the line every time you communicate. Also, marketing tends to be more of a discretionary spend for most companies, so if it’s not showing ROI in reasonable timeframes, the outcome is usually not positive.
Why Marketing Needs Reliable Processes
Two distinct sets of advantages develop from improved marketing process. First, you end up producing higher quality work that has more impact. Secondly, you gain efficiencies that increase productivity. When combined, these benefits ultimately lead to better results for less cost and with less time invested. Here are just a few of the many reasons why you should consider embracing marketing process as a way to achieve more:
- Important details don’t get overlooked – this improves quality and saves valuable time usually needed for re-work or fixing problems
- You create consistency in the execution because you start doing things the same way every time meaning fewer mistakes – also, on-going projects become simpler to manage and they finish sooner
- Everyone on the team knows what to do and how to do it – this alignment saves time and effort
- When process is running smoothly, you free up more time for research and creative thinking – this always leads to better marketing
- You learn to leverage previous work and ideas by staying organized – this frees up more time for learning and creativity
- Contingencies will have been considered while planning your processes – if you need to re-adjust, there are backup plans
Some people are highly structured by nature. I tend to naturally be more free-wheeling which means I absolutely need process to function. Over the years I have come to appreciate, respect and even admire process. The fact Moneyball is one of my “Top 5” movies of all time may be an indication of how far I’ve come.
I firmly hold to the notion that well-conceived marketing process is a key factor in making a good marketing team great. Further, in a function that is constantly struggling to break through the clutter externally while proving its worth internally, strong marketing process can make all the difference.