Process is Not a Four Letter Word

by: Stratford Group Ltd.

I’ve heard the complaint many times from my marketing communications teams: “There’s too much process!” Marcoms people like to be unconstrained so they have the freedom to deliver exceptional creativity, but then reality sets in . . .

A client or senior manager reviews a creative proposal and yelps, “That doesn’t work! It needs to be flashier and much cooler than that!” Except, “flashier and cooler” means…..what exactly?

What it usually means is that the original creative brief turned into a fun brainstorming session with everyone feeling really good about all the great ideas and happy that they were part of it. Unfortunately, it also means that the creative briefing process broke down. As a marcoms professional you don’t ever want that to happen, so here’s how to avoid it.

First, do your homework! Marketing communications staff must always come to the briefing meeting prepared. Interview stakeholders, clearly define what differentiates you from the competition and understand what the competitors are doing. Make sure that you have nailed the campaign objectives and the three key messages so you can use the meeting to get buy-in from the stakeholders. Allow the free flow of ideas but ensure that the results are aligned with the keys messages. Don’t leave the meeting without agreement and follow up with an email confirming the outcome and identifying the next steps.

Next, select the appropriate communication vehicles and message for each audience, whether they are customers, channel members, or partners. Make a schedule of all the activities, from conception through to delivery, to ensure you’re not competing for resources or conflicting with other events that your audience may be interested in. Finally, measure where you can – metrics are a key element of the process and ultimately reveal whether the communications strategy has worked.

Proper processes for marketing communications strategy, operations and creation-delivery drive effective behaviours that improve the timeliness and efficiency of your marcoms projects. It’s really just employing solid project management principles to your marketing initiatives.

It takes a deft touch for a marketing manager to impose process on the creative members of the marketing communications team. But the effort will bring your products or services to life for your targeted audiences in a reliable and cost-effective manner.

And once you get good at employing just the right amount of process at the right time, it will become so natural for your staff that rather than complaints, you’ll probably just hear “You see? We don’t really need a whole bunch of process after all!”

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