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.
Do you find yourself struggling with budget allocation, resource allocation or decision making around the myriad of marketing channels now available?
Are your marketing teams butting heads fighting for their own activity without realising the impact on other areas of your business?
The good news is that you’re not alone. Marketers are sharing these common sentiments with us:
“There is tension between teams”
“Some things should be ruled out altogether”
“There are things that are nice to have, as opposed to must have.”
In relation to marketing management, prioritisation has become one of the biggest challenges for business and marketing leaders. Magnified due to the explosion of channel outputs, and the rise of always-on and tactical engagement activity.
Over the past few years, we have completed a wide variety of projects that have included some form of prioritisation solution. From developing solutions to helping management teams prioritise activities across business units, to helping identify the relative importance and weighted value of marketing projects, campaigns, and always-on activity.
A major gap exists. Most marketing departments that engage us lack a rigorous process to quantify opportunities beyond the top level business case metrics.
To prioritise, or not to prioritise?
Prioritise – verb – means to determine the order for dealing with (a series of items or tasks) according to their relative importance.
In its simplest form, it means ranking activity. Which should be easy for marketers. However, with pressure on marketing performance, and trade-offs occurring between short term and long term impact, it’s extremely difficult to identify rational dimensions to rank on.
In this post I’ll outline an objective approach to prioritisation that helps overcome subjective turf wars, reduce resource and operational wastage, and increase the capacity of marketing teams.
In the words of one our most recent clients, “it has helped get us to talk about it, and logically debate the solution, without ripping into each other.”
The way things are done around here
Every marketing team has a ‘way of rolling’ to get stuff done.
We see teams with extremely detailed process flow charts and documented handover systems. However, teams often complain about the inflexibility, slowness, and the massive constraints for doing effective work within such a system.
And then we see departments where teams say that they have processes but that they don’t really use them. Most of it is in people’s heads, and teams tend to drift towards relationships to get work done. This can be a nightmare for new recruits to navigate, and can cause massive inefficiency and wastage as activity can be duplicated across teams or worse still, teams just go it alone to work around the system.
It’s more than process and structure
The solutions posed by most management consultancies tend to focus on new processes and restructures to fix prioritisation problems. However, at TrinityP3, we see this as only part of the overall problem and solution.
We identify the overall link to culture and strategy as a key differentiator. The best processes and most suited structures on paper are useless if the behaviour within the system is poor. Poor behaviour leads to tension, conflict and the ineffective use of resources.
TrinityP3 assists marketers to identify a cultural lens to frame prioritisation solutions. This involves looking at management and operational approaches, as well as the way that marketing is measured from input and output perspectives. Only then can a truly objective solution be posed.
By this, I mean that we look at how business decisions are made from the top. We look at how these decision impact on marketing insight generation and planning. And then importantly, how decisions are made and resources allocated, in executing ideas all the way through to performance measurement, optimisation and iteration.
The observations can then be compared to evolving sector practice, or wider industry practice to draw comparison points. Allowing performance strengths and weaknesses to be identified, consequences for under-performance to be addressed, and the most critical steps to a solution to be focussed on.
Evaluation is the key to success
In order to help teams create an agreed, organisation-wide approach to differentiating the development of marketing business cases and briefings, allocating resources, timings and measuring the efficiency within an overall system, our consultants customise an objective method of evaluation with key stakeholders.
The evaluation process also involves helping marketing teams identify and differentiate work that is strategic in nature and that has a major measurable impact on the agreed business or marketing outcomes. Versus work that may be more strategically influential in nature, or simply fast turn-around and tactical but still deemed important to do.
This is workshopped through with teams to not only allocate attributes for each area, but to allocate and refine with existing activity. These are engaging sessions in which attendees pull apart all the types of marketing activity that the entire department does. From traditional campaigning, sponsorships, PR and events, through to SEO, content generation, community management, and targeted media and direct communication. As well as identifying where, and to what extent, technology and platforms are being utilised.
Evaluate based on cost, value, size, and feasibility
In deciding where to invest your energy and marketing funds, it is important to look at the interplay of four dimensions.
Cost as a function of value
Firstly, evaluation needs to help identify the strategic opportunity and extent to which value can be substantiated and measured.
This means having conversation around research and measurement methodologies, as well as ranking how large the outcomes may be.
The resulting projected value can then be assessed in conjunction with resource mix, time, and budget allocations.
In essence, identifying how much senior versus junior resource is required throughout the end-to-end process, and including it in the overall cost allocations.
An evaluation scoring system is then applied to determine the extent to which a marketing activity is viewed as ‘worth doing’.
Size as a function of feasibility
Secondly, evaluation is applied as to the extent of whether an activity will deliver a big enough outcome, and whether it can be leveraged across other areas of the business versus the expertise and time involved to plan and execute the activity effectively.
This is always a great process which highlights tension between rapid creation of activity that has minimal impact, and that will only be in market for a minimum amount of time. Versus activity that will have a far greater demonstrable impact.
Both types of activity may be deemed highly important, however, with an objective evaluation approach, then different modes of working can be applied. Including clarity around the level of stakeholder involvement, engagement and approval.
In short, this means ownership can be assigned to certain activity for rapid creation and fast-turn around, versus focussing relevant resources, time and effort on bigger bets.
It also identifies where there are requirements to bring in external specialist suppliers or agencies to assist and enhance current internal team skillsets and capabilities.
The pay off
Ultimately a prioritisation approach, whilst simple in theory, is more complex than I’ve outlined above.
However, TrinityP3 specialises in simplifying the management of marketing.
We understand the pressures that most marketers are facing from our experience in working with a wide variety of local and global clients. You can read three of our leading case studies here.
Our consultants are seen as circuit-breakers. Highlighting how to overcome obstacles and inertia that is holding marketing teams back.
So if you’d like to increase the capacity of your marketing team, and reduce wastage without the need for additional resources and cost, then we’d love to hear from you and you can contact us here.
I wonder if people in your team are saying something along these lines:
“We haven’t got a marketing heart yet. We don’t have the plan to say how we all work together”
“Our current structure is just a hierarchy”
“The experience is disjointed, overlapping and confusing – and we don’t really even know the extent of the problem”
Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals, Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by Darren Woolley. You can find all the episodes here