Efficiency in marketing production seems like nirvana for most marketers and heads of marketing. Seemingly out of reach for time pressured and resource-poor marketers, we know we should be more efficient, but how exactly are we meant to achieve it?
In several enterprises I have worked for, we had a multi-disciplinary team of 15-20, a volume of active projects over 100, equating to more than 1200 tasks. This level was constant - this wasn't the peak - this was the standard level of work required by the organisation.
We break down some of the ways you can create efficiency and best practice marketing solutions. You might be doing some of them, or you might have already implemented them. If this is you, perhaps Outfit might be the solution ;)
Efficiency outcome: Shorten turnaround times
For both internal stakeholders and the marketing teams supporting them, turnaround times cause frustration. Stakeholders often can't understand how it could take 2-3 weeks to supply what is a relatively simple solution and marketers struggle to manage the volume of requests across a whole organisation.
Your team could shorten turnaround times by changing the briefing process.
Often the complete information isn't supplied by the client at the time of briefing - by building a request platform with the mandatory information required, you can cut down on the amount of time your team needs to go back and forth before they start the job.
You could shorten turnaround times by having pre-built solutions that only need minor changes.
Rather than building each solution from scratch, you could, for example, provide 2-3 press ads that only need contact details and CTA updated rather than a fresh build each time. You will have information on the most popular types of collateral and most frequent messages, and you can have these ready to go with only 5-10 minutes of updates.
You could anniversarise promotions and campaigns instead of re-inventing the wheel every time.
Are there campaigns you run several times a year, or once a year? These campaigns don't necessarily need to be 100% new creative each time - you can run the same creative so stakeholders can receive the new artwork with new disclaimer dates. Quickly.
Efficiency outcome: Do less work
Seems so simple - 10 letters - a lot harder than it looks, but not impossible. While it might seem like a wonderful idea to accommodate every request from your stakeholders, you might choose a different path.
You could develop a set kit for stakeholders to draw down from and publish it to your intranet - they can self-service, and your team can focus on other marketing endeavours. Producing collateral they will use without needing to log a job will make both groups happier!
You might need to manage expectations up front - publish a list of the type of work you deliver so the random requests either don't hit your desk or can be politely refused because they don't comply with the agreed list.
Efficiency outcome: Touch it less
This outcome is both about quality in meaning quality out and also training your design team to pay attention to the detail.
A change to your briefing process means expectations are communicated up front more clearly, and work doesn't start without all the necessary elements. If the document needs to be worked on four or five occasions as new content is supplied or needs 12 rounds of changes because there was confusion about the collateral outcome, all of this takes time (and super-human patience!).
Your design team need to have a rock-solid process for designing and then proofing their own work, so they don't need to redo work to meet the original brief, or have missed mark-ups.
Efficiency outcome: Reduce your spend
If you have an external agency producing non-campaign and non-concept work; if you don't have enough internal design and account management resources to do the work and outsource it the costs will add up quickly.
Reduce your spend by building up either internal design resources or non-agency cost-effective freelance solutions. Designers at $50/hour enable more budget efficiency than agency charges at $150/hour and often have a much faster turnaround time.
Reduce your spend by tracking it all, and recognise which expenditure isn't delivering a return on investment. This might mean needing to negotiate with your internal stakeholder to demonstrate the idea they are particularly attached to (and will be the one thing for sure, guaranteed, that enables them to hit their targets) hasn't actually done that over the last three years of attempts and it might be time to look at another marketing or sales solution. I mean, we admire their persistence, but we should have incontrovertible proof it works or doesn't, to justify the expenditure.
Efficiency outcome: Restructure your graphic design team
Restructuring your graphic design team is absolutely NOT the euphemism of restructuring that means people lose their jobs. Instead, this looks at the skill sets, interests and efficiency of your team to optimise it.
You may have an art director or creative director role or perhaps not. Even if this conceptual role isn't formalised, you will undoubtedly have people in your team who are better at concept work, and others who relish the churn of finished art or ticking off lots of smaller jobs in a day. Creatives who are task-oriented enjoy this type of 'punch it out work'. Restructure your team and process to match skills.
It might not be necessary for every designer to work each project through all steps to completion - a creative smorgasbord allows people to select the types of tasks they take the most pleasure in or need to hone their skills in.
Efficiency outcome: Balance between planned and reactive
Across all of these outcomes sits one of the most important - the balance between planned and reactive work. The more you can plan, the more you can ensure you have the right resources available at the right times. Reactive marketing (including unplanned requests from internal stakeholders) means you might need to wait days or weeks for the person with the right skill set to have the capacity, or you might need to bump other work to wedge something else in.
The world of marketing production has radically shifted through the introduction of new martech solutions including marketing resource management platforms, brand management software, cloud design software and, of course, brand automation.