This post is by Anton Buchner, a senior consultant with TrinityP3. Anton is one of Australia’s leaders in data-driven marketing. Helping navigate through the bells, whistles and hype to identify genuine marketing value when it comes to technology, digital activity, and the resulting data footprint.
With marketing outputs and deliverables on the rise to meet the demands of an increasing number of media channels and consumer touch points and marketer and agency resources limited by downward pressure on media budgets and agency fees, it is becoming increasingly important for marketers to be able to manage and prioritise the demands on marketing.
This is especially true in organisations where the marketing function is centralised and designed to accommodate the organisational needs of multiple business units. But likewise it applies to the increasingly popular in-house agency, where demand can often overrun the resources.
We have been working with a wide range of marketing organisations where the demand on marketing appears to be excessive for the resources, only to discover that the core issue is not the volume but the lack of management or the stream of work either through a rigorous planning process or a prioritisation process.
Often, the issue is not the volume, but that increasing volumes of work into marketing has highlighted the lack of planning and prioritisation, which if in place would increase the capability of the marketing team. Partly this is because of the trend to ‘agile marketing’ where lack of planning and short term demands place successive short term pressure on the workflow, which looks overall like a lack of capacity.
Often the implementation of a work plan and prioritisation process or framework will increase the capacity of the marketing team and reduce wastage without the need for additional resources and cost.
Case study 1 – Higher education
The Marketing and Communications Branch had been transforming under a university-wide Professional Services Reform (PSR) for several years now. One part of the solution involved having an in-house creative studio manage the production of corporate, brand, student recruitment, creative, and digital requirements. TrinityP3 was engaged to give guidance on how the in-house studio could achieve greater operational efficiency within the marketing context and structure, and with the panel of agencies on the roster.
TrinityP3 assessed the organisational structure, team position descriptions (including roles and responsibilities), and go-to-market workflows, systems, technologies and processes. All within the context of the next 12 – 24 month marketing plans, budget allocations and cost structures. After 30 stakeholder interviews were completed it was identified that there was a clear cultural acceptance of inefficiency, and a fundamental opportunity to create a greater level of accountability.
The process revealed that whilst attempts had been made to improve the overall consistency of output and govern the balance between a hybrid model of centralised marketing and decentralised faculty teams, there was a greater force at play. There was a clear lack of prioritisation across the entire process leading to inefficient resource use and flow through the system. It was recommended to implement a new prioritisation matrix and filtering solution.
Results and feedback
The result being a new, university-wide approach to differentiating the development of briefs, allocating resources, and measuring the efficiency within the overall ‘marketing’ system. It was agreed to: assign strategic resources and external agency specialists to high impact and strategically valuable activity; tailor timings, service level agreements and resources to tactical activity; and develop a direct and fast turn-around model for rapid creation.
When considering to in-source creative development and production services, it is critical to focus on the priority of the outputs just as much as the process of how you will deliver the solutions. If you’re only looking at cost saving and accessibility, then you run the serious risk of services being mis-used, and may run into fundamental capacity, accountability and work-flow issues.
Case study 2 – Destination, tourism and events
A centralised marketing team is being utilised by two different government departments with their own ministerial reporting lines. However, as part of the overarching business plan it was identified that projects and opportunities are to be weighted in accordance with their ability to deliver against outcomes and measures of success, allowing the allocation of an appropriate level of resources to broader Government initiatives while maintaining a focus on the two different department’s priority projects.
TrinityP3 was engaged to assist in developing a ‘prioritisation’ mode of working in managing the business activities and marketing projects.
TrinityP3 facilitated working sessions with the leadership teams with the aim to gain insight into the implications for effective delivery of prioritised initiatives; and to build on, develop and agree the format, dimensions and scoring system for an Evaluation Filter. This allowed for the allocation of different levels and mix of resources and capability, and the establishment of indicative timings accordingly to each type of activity subject to the value, impact and feasibility of the opportunity.
The process revealed a new level of discussion to identify the potential value and impact of activity. It also helped address the sheer volume of work and allowed for a conversation to look at the opportunity cost of activity, as well as business casing where appropriate if more resources are required.
Results and feedback
The result was an agreed, organisation-wide approach to differentiating the development of business cases and briefings, allocating resources, timings and measuring the efficiency within the overall system. When the two teams came together under unified business objectives, it was critical to not only open lines of discussion around whether activities are worth doing, but also whether they can feasibly be executed with the internal or external resources available.
It sounds easy to simply prioritise business or marketing opportunities. However, in reality, there are often competing interests, confusion around real value, and major competition for resources. Implementing an objective, quantitative approach will help take the subjectivity out of decision making and allow for all levels within an organisation to understand what is important in delivering desired outcomes.
Case study 3 – Financial Services
A centralised marketing team was being assessed by an external management consultancy at the behest of one of the five lines of business they worked with because of what was described as ‘chronic’ under performance of the marketing team. TrinityP3 was engaged by the central marketing team to assist in providing an independent assessment of the scope of work volume, process and capabilities of marketing as an alternative to the stated solution of the management consultants that what was required was to move from centralised marketing to decentralised marketing.
By assessing the process maps prepared by the management consultants and undertaking an assessment of the scope of work volumes, marketing resources and capabilities beyond imply campaign development to look at annual planning, annual budgeting, performance measurement and workflow prioritisation, we were able to identify the shortcomings in the current state. These being the lack of planning and prioritisation across the five business units into marketing leading to effectively a 30% increase in demand on the centralised marketing team.
Using the work that had been undertaken by the management consultants, TrinityP3 began to collect the data on scope of work complexity and volume through marketing by business unit over the past 12 months. We then analysed the processes with the marketing team to identify the blockages, duplications and typical hold up and understand the causes. We reported this back not just to centralised marketing but to the business unit stakeholders too.
Results and feedback
We had discovered that at any point the centralised marketing team had at best a 90-day view of the work volume because of the lack of participation in the annual planning and prioritisation process. This was not just bad for marketing, but it also impacted the business units as activities were often competing with the requirements of other business units within the organisation.
The result was an agreed, organisation-wide approach to planning and prioritisation within the business and a greater participation in the process by the business units. A framework was implemented for planning and prioritisation and while the business units held the budget, marketing held the authority to prioritise the work through marketing in the best interest of the organisation.
It demonstrated that while moving to a decentralised marketing model would have given more control over marketing it would not have improved the productivity of the marketing function across the organisation as marketing would have become a service provider to the business teams. In fact the changes created a more collaborative approach to planning and business and marketing prioritisation, which delivered savings especially in media, paid search and agency fees.
If you are looking to improve the productivity and performance of your marketing resources within your organisation then talk to us about assessing your marketing structure and function. You can read more about this here