Efficiency is one of the Marketing team’s Holy Grails.

Improving your efficiency enables you to get products and services to markets quicker; reduce duplication and rework; and save your business money.

But becoming more efficient is easier said than done. All too often, Marketing teams are bogged down in admin and reactive work.

A lack of efficiency can result from a number of things:

  • A mis-match between activity the business thinks the Marketing team does, and the work that would really achieve the firm’s objectives.

This can lead to the all-too-familiar situation where Marketers take on roles that don’t really fit with their skills and ambitions, often because there is no other home for them in the firm. And it means that you spend too much time responding to short-term demands rather than focusing on true marketing campaigns and deliverables.

  • A lack of planning, or plans that focus on the wrong areas. Failing to create a plan of activity contributes to this reactive approach.

Again, the Marketing team isn’t always at fault here; a lack of structure can be down to a business that has no clear direction, or a ‘whoever shouts loudest’ approach to securing Marketing’s time and budget.

  • Ineffective systems and working practices. How are marketing projects managed? Is there a clear and consistent process for producing collateral? How are agencies briefed? How are new marketing materials reviewed and signed off? In many cases, the ways these processes are managed do not encourage efficiency.

So – how can your Marketing function become more efficient? We’ve curated 6 key actions.

  1. Get your planning right

Failing to plan leaves Marketing teams subject to the whims of the business when it comes to objectives and activity. Work with your business in advance of your year – whether this is calendar or financial – to identify their goals and priorities.

The organisation’s aims should map across to your marketing campaigns. How will your activity support the business’s strategy? What have you learned from previous campaigns; what will you do more of, and what will you drop? Mine the results of your previous activity so you can continually refine your approach.

A key element of planning is deciding how you will measure your success. Make sure any objectives you set are realistic and within your control. It’s too easy to set goals which are unachievable or cannot be easily measured.

Of course, business priorities will change, and new, unpredicted activity will be added to the plan. But setting a clear strategy, with documented and achievable objectives, will prevent too much time being diverted to ad hoc, unexpected projects, helping to maximise your efficiency.

  1. Critically review your processes

How do you execute your marketing activity? Whether it’s briefing projects into the team or your external agencies, managing the creative review process or ensuring your approvals and sign-off are as efficient as possible – project management is key.

Look at the way your marketing activity is managed. Are there clear-cut steps? Is everyone sure of their role? Is it easy to see when next steps fall due, and who is responsible for them? A clear process is vital if you want to run an efficient marketing operation.

  1. Keep the whole team in the loop

Inefficiency is far more likely if people don’t know what their team-mates are up to. A lack of co-ordinated activity can lead to unnecessary duplication of effort, rework and wasted time.

Schedule regular catch-ups for the whole team. These don’t need to be daily, and they don’t always need to be in person. Today’s webex technology enables teams to hear and see each other, wherever they are. Find out what works best for your team. Keep it brief, keep it focused and make sure everyone stays up to speed.

  1. Cut out the admin

Getting bogged down in admin can be a real problem for Marketers. If you calculate how much time you waste on admin, you may get a nasty shock.

Tackle this by looking at where processes are inefficient – for instance, do you have numerous people making the same edits to documents? Is there potential for duplication? Are there more efficient ways to, for example, share content on social media, without needing to post on multiple platforms?

Do you spend too much time correcting materials produced outside the Marketing team? Make your marketing assets easy to find and you spend less time reproducing existing materials – or correcting others’ efforts when they try to do the same!

Unnecessary admin and manual processes distract from the work the Marketing team should be doing. Address all these areas and you will free up your time to focus on planning and executing activity that really adds value to your business.

  1. Focus on what works

Refining your activity means using the data at your disposal. It means chasing the winners in terms of successful initiatives, and being ruthless in ditching activity that doesn’t deliver.

Streamline your marketing approach in this way, and you will spend more time doing the things that deliver the most return. Creating marketing personas can help you to identify your audience and their preferences, which in turn will enable you to focus on producing content that engages them.

Cut out the unnecessary and you immediate improve your Marketing ROI, spending your time more effectively on activity that generates tangible results.

  1. Collaborate successfully

Collaboration is a key element of the marketing process – whether it’s between team members, with people out in the business or with external agencies.

This need for co-working often peaks when marketing materials are being reviewed and finalised. Inefficiencies here can lead to the Marketing team coming under fire for delaying project sign-off. Take a look at the way your team works together and with others to see if you could improve the way this is managed.

Many Marketing teams are saving time and money by introducing automation to their processes. The right collaboration tool can help team members to share ideas, edit documents and streamline reviews and approvals. Automated solutions improve collaboration via well-defined workflows, with actions and responsibilities clearly outlined.

Improving efficiency in marketing can seem a challenge – and it can be. But there are some easy steps you can take to achieve quick wins. We hope we’ve given you some actions to think about here.

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