Marketers live in a fluid, ever-changing world. Campaigns shift, goals change, and directives come from all over the marketing organization. In order to manage all of the intricate details, marketing teams must have solid and reliable communication tools and platforms to keep everyone in the loop.
Without strong communications, you can’t have true agile marketing – that is, the ability to adapt and pivot quickly without wasting time on individual team updates and waiting on key information and approvals to come down the pike.
Learn how today’s marketers are turning to tech to keep the lines of communication open and facilitate agile project management so they can thrive in a fast-paced digital landscape.
Agile marketing through communication
Nowadays, marketers need to be nimble, as things are in a constant state of flux – and that’s especially true for B2B marketers who must be able to meet client needs and goals. “A single data point on a digital campaign could trigger a significant pivot,” says Shahed Ahmed SVP, Partner at Merritt Group, a digital marketing and PR agency. Or, an influencer action might present a great opportunity. “Keeping up with micro-interactions across the buyer journey with a constant stream of associated data demands more integrated teams,” he says. In other words, there’s no time for phone tag.
Ahmed recalls one recent situation in which his team was helping a client prep for an important meeting with the executive team and board of one of their target customers. “We had been working with our client on this meeting for a while — targeting the prospect company using account-based marketing, digital media, and sales enablement,” says Ahmed. The challenge was that they only had 1.5 weeks to put together the content for the actual meeting, which included videos, handouts, a presentation, and messaging. Behind the scenes, Ahmed’s team had to bring together industry SMEs, strategists and messaging experts, writers, designers, and videographers to create the content, and then go through a rigorous review process with the client. “This simply would not have been possible without streamlined and shared communications through common software platforms,” he says.
In addition to choosing the right platforms and tools to meet all of your needs, here are some important must-haves for creating an effective marketing communication plan.
Centralized briefs and calendars
Centralized briefs, shared calendars, and a way to post comments and insights are all important for collaboration and project management.
When Lisa Camerlengo, marketing leader at StoneTurn, a global advisory firm, led her team through a rebrand in 2017, there were a million moving parts from a communications perspective, both internally and externally. “We managed it successfully — with an extremely lean team — by establishing a solid project management plan at the outset,” she says.
The plan not only included regular, in-person touch points and phone calls, but also frequent communications via e-mail, spreadsheets, calendar notices, and data maintained through a project management tool with shared access for the entire team. “This helped to keep us all informed of upcoming deadlines and action items. Without this communication and close collaboration, it would have been impossible to complete the project within the tight timeline of approximately nine months,” says Camerlengo.
Clear deadlines, assigned responsibilities, and change notifications
Not only does your team need to be able to refer to the marketing brief and deadline schedule, but when things change, you have to be sure everyone gets the memo.
“In the professional services world, direction can change on a dime, so it’s critical to ensure that all team members are connected,” says Camerlengo. In addition to weekly team meetings, natural checkpoints are built into the project lifecycle and embedded in the project management tool her team uses as well. “These check-ins during the process and final reviews before distribution provide a record to refresh our memories when necessary, or work as a way to coordinate if someone is unavailable and needs to catch up later,” she says.
A move away from silos
It can be challenging for a marketing team to communicate if everyone is working in their own tech. For instance, the social media team is in one platform, the content marketing in another, and the demand gen group is working in a CRM. Having the opportunity to work in the same system is an integration win.
“Integration is the name of the game when it comes to marketing today,” says Ahmed. “Especially for buyer’s journeys that can last more than 18-20 months, prospects need to feel like they are interacting with one company,” he adds. “The marketing and sales teams need to be able to stitch together all those micro-interactions to have a broader impact of driving sales,” he says. That’s why he calls silos “anti-marketing.”
Camerlengo agrees, noting that when teams are operating in silos, it forces everyone to update information in multiple places. “That’s an extremely bad use of time,” she says. And even worse, sometimes the information isn’t shared at all. “Either way, there will undoubtedly be a breakdown in project management,” says Camerlengo.
Adoption of purpose-built marketing tools
Some cloud technology platforms are starting to pull together marketing automation software, CRM, social tools, creative suites, and more. The marketer’s job is to figure out which platforms are best for workflow, collaboration, and reporting. Keep in mind that just being centralized isn’t enough. For example, Google Docs is centralized, but it doesn’t necessarily fulfill the needs of your marketing project management.
Communication to avoid campaign launch mistakes
Poor marketing team communication often leads to mistakes, particularly on the content side. “For example, when a communication is distributed before it has been reviewed by all of the appropriate parties or hasn’t been properly proofread, it can damage a firm’s reputation if the information is inaccurate or positioned incorrectly,” says Camerlengo.
“One errant tweet or Facebook post could seriously damage brand reputation,” adds Ahmed.
Even with a robust campaign strategy, it’s hard to predict and plan out every action and outcome, which is why good communication is so important as things evolve and change, says Ahmed. “A great campaign strategy still matters a lot, but you should be listening to the campaign data, and be able to quickly respond to tweaks in-market.”
Ultimately, marketers need to ensure that all boxes have been checked before pressing ‘go’ on a new launch, says Camerlengo. Having technology and agile processes in place that make communication seamless can help set your team up for success.
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