May 25th, 2016
We all want to find ways to become more efficient, especially when it comes to our professional work.
Marketing teams are in a unique position. Often responsible for dealing with the requests of several departments at once, effective internal processes are important to make sure no one gets forgotten and marketing staff don’t get overwhelmed. Effective internal processes won’t just work wonders in-house – they’ll also help you manage your relationship with your marketing agency.
An internal process is anything that requires you to go through a specific set of tasks to reach a certain goal. Whenever you produce a project, get approval for your work, or communicate with your agency, you’re completing an internal process.
With days chock full of these processes, here are a few ways marketing departments and agencies can streamline their tasks so everything and everyone work better together.
Marketing departments often receive the brunt of the design work for a business or organization. Whether it’s creating a line of business cards, writing blog posts, designing product labels, or signage for an upcoming promotion, there is often consistency required between different marketing materials. That means you can reference old work when completing new projects. But wait – every time you forget where you put an old project represents inefficiency in managing an internal process. Every time a team member has to ask how to create a business card represents inefficiency in managing an internal process.
You get the picture. It’s important to create templates for different documents your team may need. It’s not good enough to just create templates, though. The rest of your team has to know where to find them. The replacement of hesitation with certainty when finding an answer means you’ve cleaned up an internal process.
The same goes for the marketing agency you hire for your business. Even if you’re asking them to do a complete overhaul of your marketing strategy and branding, the more templates and context you can provide, the better. Is there a way your business has always done things or made projects look? Giving your marketing agency access to this information will prepare them for success.
Creating firm timelines around work will help any marketing department run more smoothly. This can be done both within and outside the department. For example, if team members have requests for the marketing department, set a deadline to dictate the date by which those tasks must be submitted. Asking coworkers to submit a request for, say, the development of a new product brochure two weeks before they need it will prevent them from coming to you frantically the day before. Taking requests early will help your department better plan its workload and will enable your coworkers to look at potential requests with greater foresight.
While asking coworkers to submit their requests early, encourage them to rank that request in terms of priority. This will again help a marketing department better determine what needs to be done and when.
Keep timelines in mind when working with an agency as well – if you need something by a certain date, be sure to let your agency contact know well in advance. While not explicitly a deadline, you should also establish with your marketing agency the frequency through which you plan to meet, and the format of those meetings. Determining regular check in dates at the start and sticking to those dedicated meetings will save time for both teams.
After you have a nice tidy request system in place, make sure chaos doesn’t ensue at the marketing department level. There is nothing worse than completing a task only to realize your colleague did the exact same work. Duplication is the devil when it comes to efficiency.
Use a project management tool to keep track of tasks within the marketing department. These tools can take the form of visual pin boards such as Trello and Thoughtboxes or can be inspired by more conventional Gantt charts. When choosing your project management tool, be mindful of the system your marketing agency uses. Many platforms allow you to easily share content and feedback through multiple accounts, and being on the same system will help streamline your relationship. Whatever tool you choose, ensure everyone on your team knows there is a central spot they can go to find out who has been assigned a task and the progress they’ve made on that work.
Just as set timelines can work for departmental requests, laying out clear time frames are effective within a marketing department itself. Items produced by a marketing department usually have to be approved by different team members. Having work submitted a set number of days before final deadline will provide built in time for feedback and revision. If you’re working with a marketing agency on a project, ensure you leave appropriate time for their team to make any revisions.
In the end, ensure the internal processes developed for a marketing department fit in with those of the business or organization as a whole. Once you start streamlining these tasks you’ll be surprised how much more productive you and your team will become. Your marketing agency will thank you, too, and efficient internal processes will help you get more bang for your buck and have a better relationship in the long run.
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