Does this look familiar?
Create a print ad/concept > put it in online channels > advertise it
I hope not. In the last 5 years, new emerging channels have fundamentally changed that model because of the new ways we communicate and marketers need tools to keep up. We all know this, so it boggles my mind why is it so hard to change workflow processes to adapt to the new needs of the customer?
Sophisticated agile marketers may want to skip now to my other blog post Influencer Lifecycle: The Agile Marketing Process
The solution isn’t about testing a small segment of people, building a business case and then rolling this out to the organization. If you are still operating under the old communication department model and your department is a silo – you need to change NOW.
Evolution = dinosaurs, slow, evolving over time
R+evolution = movement, rapid change, fast, community
This calls for the need to revamp, redo, restart, rewind and start over. Think like a startup.
Whether you are a 3 person team or a 30 person team, the traditional “order taking” support model is not only inefficient but totally and utterly unsustainable based on the current needs and expectations of customers today.
So don’t try to transition – cut the cord. I’ll show you how and why this is the only solution that makes sense.
- Afraid your customers won’t get what they are used to?
- Afraid your messaging will feel templated and not personal?
- Afraid your internal business partners won’t like a process change?
- Afraid of that you are throwing out years of thought leadership?
Well, you need to put on your big boy/girl pants and step up. It’s time to finally remove the over planning, the over complicated brief, over analysis and documentation and just plain over-head costs for the sake of saving everyone’s sanity.
Allow your creative teams to actually be creative. Shift and put your budget and resources into good, timely ideas and leave the rest to marketing automation tools. Free up your team to be nimble and make marketing an organizational ‘team building’ exercise.
If you think about it, we all have our own personal brands and all our personal brands make up the brand we work for. We all have different perspectives and valuable input. Today people hire people. If your marketing team is the only one coming up with new ideas, your ideas are going to be limited by one point of view and one that does not reflect the real reality of the average consumer.
So how do you start?
First start with mapping out your current process and identify the areas where your team is NOT doing creative/marketing. Visually you can see the inefficiencies and need for some areas to be automated.
By automated, I mean coming up with marketing message flows that are based on where they are in the customer buying lifecycle and their knowledge of your brand. It doesn’t have to be very personal when the customer just wants basic information about the brand, services and trying to research to decide whether to take the next step.
The areas in black under old process includes the 75% of time spent taking requests, entering requests, sharing and prioritizing requests, getting feedback, making changes (typically 10-15 rounds) proofing, testing, analyzing results and then documenting, sharing and saving on some internal backup system that no one will ever find again. None of that work requires marketing or messaging expertise. (I would say that on the average projects I’ve worked on, only 20% of the time was spent in the creative or development “zone” and it felt like 80% was administrative and something a project manager could do.)
Just think, what if it was swapped. What if you could spend 80% of the time creating? Marketing workflow and automation tools can make that happen.
In this new vision, you would need a framework and system that constantly moves forward and upfront, think more strategically on the messages you want to say to different audiences (define the business rules). Ideas are then not created adhoc and approved in a conference room. Real ideas are now generated by people based on their behavior and from feedback they receive from their customers daily. Even if we have the most sophisticated predictive modeling and think we ‘know our audience’ that doesn’t mean that we always know what they are thinking every second. People by nature are unpredictable, so instead, use them to predict trends – make sense?
Community > idea > product > community shares
Your marketing team now focuses their time on ideas/emotional imagery/products (whether that is a webinar, infographic, contest, event etc.) and the community supplies the rest. And guess what, you see your team start having more energy too. Creatives by nature need problems to solve and a quality time to create a good solution. Sales and business folk are always thinking about how to create a conversation and what to say at the right time. Combine efforts.
Step 1: define and build your community:
– office colleagues (sales, analysts, technologist and yes, even the executives)
– your influencers and social network
– peers and competitors in the industry
Step 2: create communication lines
Create easy pathways to make it only one click away to sharing a links, news, idea and other content that is relevant and INTERESTING. You could use a tool like Basecamp, Skype, email or an intranet. Light the spark and momentum by sharing things with them that you see first. Do it daily. Set the example. It could just be a link with one sentence of supporting context connecting the dots with what you read and how that might be useful for your customers. Incentivize this group by showing them successful stats, giving reward points or with just a personal thank you email.
Step 3: create a content calendar based on business goals
This is where marketing can control the customer experience with your brand. Define a content calendar with general themes, key events, key contributors, new product launches etc. The content you share should educate and add value to your customers wrapped in key brand messages. Make it flexible so you can piggyback on anything in the news and use Call to Actions that drive customers to a conversion that meets a business goal. Distribute content effectively across all your networks.
Step 4: create content and an asset library
Chances are that some of your old content is still relevant and good. Start there. Put a new spin on old information or create the same idea in a different format (video, slideshare, infographic etc). Develop new content based off community inspiration. Use keyword analysis tools and engagement in social to find out what people are looking for. Can you help the, in some way? Make sure all you content is tagged with keywords that match the content, ones that people use in search engines and the persona that might need this.
Step 5: use a marketing automation tool and set up business rules
Decided what is the story and create an experience that makes sense for each persona. Create flows that allow people to learn about a subject and then receive related information in email. If a person comes back to your site after they download a resource, populate your site with content they might want next. Give them places to convert and tell you more about their needs and interests. Tag and track these interactions and capture data to understand them better.
Step 6 test and refine with a/b testing tools
This new process has no room for big egos. Use data to decide what a customer likes and needs. Drive them online to an a/b test and see what they choose. Refine content and optimize, removing what they don’t like and adding more of what they do like. Share results consistently with all key stakeholders and don’t be afraid to point out when your hypothesis was wrong. You’ll learn as much from your failures as your successes. This way insights are rolled right back into the next initiative and not lost in the black hole of file madness.
Step 7 be transparent and consistent
I see marketers trying to hide the low numbers and lie about how long it takes to do something. I’ve done it myself. Don’t fall back into your old ways. Use the philosophy “progress not perfection” and know upfront that you are not going to win every time – but you are going to learn and be more productive with your time. If you share performance data with the company – you make marketing a shared, collaborative task – and a fun one! Set targets and throw a party when you reach them! Send a message that you are all in this together.
Take a chance. Let go of the old – you have nothing to lose other that more wasted time on administrative planning and processes. Turn them tomorrow into progress!
Have fun and be sure to share how it works with others!