I love my clients. But sometimes I am frustrated by how long it takes from the beginning of the creation of a marketing program to its final implementation. Programs that should take a few weeks often take months.
This is especially a problem in the fall because, although September and October are traditionally terrific months for B2B marketing efforts, November and December are full of breaks and holidays that typically reduce results.
For email campaigns, many B2B marketers are using marketing automation solutions such as Marketo, Silverpop, Eloqua and many others to quickly re-engage prospects after they have responded to some marketing effort. But those technologies are useless if approvals on the copy, the design, the content offer, the data selection or any other element of the program take months.
Surprisingly, this is not a topic that seems to be widely covered in marketing blogs and discussions. Perhaps this is because few people have the answers for how to shorten the time from marketing program inception to distribution. So I tossed the question out to my friend and colleague James Pennington, a VP at Anderson Direct Marketing.
He responded by saying that it’s an interesting problem. “B2B marketers put all this technology in place to control which messages and content offers go to which prospects based on their place in the buy-cycle. Yet if companies don’t streamline marketing decision-making, nothing gets implemented.”
Then I asked if he knows of any solutions marketers can put in place to overcome this problem. Here are his four great suggestions:
1. When a marketing department distributes marketing messages and content offers for review by stakeholders, those stakeholders should be given limits on what they are being asked to do.
If the product is technology and the product manager or IT executive needs to review it, their instruction should be that they can approve or disapprove the technical elements only and are not being asked to make comments on the colors or the call to action or the headline.
This goes for the customer service manager, the sales manager or any other executive whose department has some stake in the results of the marketing program.
By limiting the area of input that is being requested, marketing can reduce the delays in the reviews and approvals.
2. Reviewers can be sent the messaging in a text format only, with the areas that they are to review highlighted in a different color. Then the review request can say something like — “Alex, can you please review the items highlighted in red for accuracy?” The reviews will go more quickly without unwanted input on all the other areas of the marketing message.
3. Circulating the campaign materials individually and waiting for responses often gives stakeholders too much time to analyze and over-think what they are reviewing. A good alternative is to get the stakeholders together in a meeting by phone or in person to conduct the review at one time and get feedback and sign off quickly.
4. Lastly, he recommends taking the marketing material to the ultimate decision-maker first for feedback and approval. When material is distributed to others, reviewers can be asked for accuracy checks for feedback on other elements pertinent to the reviewer’s department. Saying that the CEO (or whoever) has already approved it helps reduce the over-analysis that is typical when reviewing marketing materials.
These suggestions may not be simple to implement, but they seem well worth the effort and will pay off in generating more leads, quickly moving those leads to being sales-ready and eliminating lost sales by doing too little, too late.