Have you ever felt like you can never get out from under your task list long enough to carve out some real creative or strategic thinking time?
This was the situation one regional bank marketing officer found herself in. She would create gift baskets by personally going out and purchasing items to include. She designed customized materials as needed and printed and shipped materials from her office. She also spent countless hours on budget management as well as managing hard copy request forms (obtaining approvals, communicating needs, filing hard copies). There wasn’t much time for creative or strategic thinking.
Every day, marketers are tasked with more and more responsibilities. We need to think big picture, but at the same time support sales staff spread across the country or around the world. Our productivity can take a hit when we stop focusing on innovative projects in order to cross items off our to-do list.
When we get bogged down in this marketing minutia – the everyday tasks that keep us from planning, innovating and creating powerful new campaigns – it’s time to look for ways to streamline activities and improve productivity.
Moving from Overdue to Done
There are a few common situations that can be resolved by addressing the tangle of everyday marketing tasks holding you and your team back:
- You need to do more with the same team.
- Your team isn’t coming up with big ideas and can’t focus on strategy.
- You have high turnover on your marketing team.
1. Assess the tasks currently being performed by your team.
How is your marketing team currently spending its time? Are team members spending too much time on tasks that could be automated or streamlined? Here are a few common marketing areas that can be simplified to make your day a little easier:
- Managing revisions and approvals
- Preparing for audits
- Tracking down logos
- Tracking down existing marketing assets
- Managing mailing lists
- Ensuring list compliance
2. Redistribute tasks internally.
Sometimes, it’s best to shift around responsibilities to spread work out and ensure experience matches tasks. Here are a few questions to consider to help work flow smoothly:
- Can sales teams customize marketing materials with local messages?
- Can marketing and sales work together to build and share prospect lists?
- Are there any internal promotional tasks that can be shared with HR?
- Are senior staff members responsible for tasks better suited for junior staff?
3. Identify opportunities for automation.
Once you identify what tasks your team is spending too much time on, research possible technology solutions. A marketing resource management system can help streamline marketing processes, so you can spend less time on the marketing minutia and more time thinking big picture. MRM can help marketing teams:
- Spend less time on approvals: Electronic workflows route materials to the next person in the approval process. All reviews, edits and changes are captured within the system, making it easy for marketing teams to manage versions and approvals.
- Quickly find most recent assets: MRM systems store the most recent files of brochures, posters and more. Search, find and update materials with new logos, phone numbers or other changes, within minutes.
- Manage local marketing budgets: A popular component of MRM systems is the local marketing budget system, which enables marketing teams to assign, review and approve co-op, marketing development funds (MDF) or other marketing spends by local sales teams.
4. Partner with third parties.
Sometimes the best resources are located outside the company. Outside organizations can bring their experience and expertise to efficiently execute tasks that take your team longer than necessary. Agencies, partners and vendors can also help supplement staff if it’s not feasible to add staff members.
5. Choose partners carefully.
Outside organizations and technology can be a wonderful complement to your team. However, it’s critical to closely evaluate your needs against the experience, processes and culture of possible vendors. Be sure your needs align closely with the services a vendor provides.
Also, make sure you consider customer service and internal culture when choosing a technology partner. It may not seem important to think about the culture of the company you partner with, but it can tell a lot about the organization in the long run. Will they stand by your side and help you solve problems or stand on the sidelines and shrug their shoulders?
Our regional bank marketing officer who was running a one-person gift basket operation out of her office came to realize she had to find her way back to focusing on more strategic marketing activities. After taking a critical look at how she was spending her time each day, she discovered she could reassign or automate a number of the activities related to her gift basket program, including the production and approval of custom materials, shipping and budget tracking. She worked with a marketing resources management partner to get her new system up and running, allowing her to get out of the minutia and back to more important marketing activities.
This article originally appeared on the Vya blog. It has been updated and republished with permission.