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5 Ways Marketing Teams Can Work Better in 2021

Marketer’s to-do lists can seem never-ending. Now that work and home have become so blended, it’s even harder to stop work from creeping in when it shouldn’t.

None of us want to burn out, but it can be a hard cycle to break. How can marketers work smarter, faster, and keep time in the day for themselves? Marketing teams need to work more efficiently and cut out the time wasters. 

Get your current situation under control with these five things that will improve how your marketing team works. 

  1. Automation is your best friend
  2. Processes make you more productive
  3. Budget visibility is the first step to full visibility of marketing impact
  4. Align your marketing team around shared goals
  5. Maximize your output with integrated marketing campaigns 

1. Automation is Your Best Friend

How many manual tasks is your marketing team currently spending their time on instead of strategy and execution? How much time is spent on spreadsheet maintenance? 

There’s no one perfect marketing platform that does everything. We all have a variety of tools to help execute and manage our work, and the savvy marketing teams haven’t been assembling a tech stack: they’ve been building a marketing ecosystem. No one wants to spend time updating their project management platform, their budgeting platform, and their CRM with the same information. You want to do it once, and then be able to push that change out across the rest of your platforms.

Start by looking within your current tech stack at possible integrations or ways that tasks can be automated. It’s the fastest – and cheapest – path to maximize what you’ve already got. But if you’ll never be able to integrate the critical components of your tech stack as it stands, then it might be time to shop around for another solution that works for you.

2. Processes Make You More Productive

It feels like we’ve been planning all year right? Marketers made countless pivots last year to keep up with market changes, and we can expect to see a degree of that carry into 2021. 

I’m a big planner and I’ve found that the most useful part of planning isn’t the plan itself, it’s the process. Working through the knots. Thinking through scenarios. Definitely plan. But hold plans loosely because you can’t possibly have all the answers. 

Kathleen Schaub, Strategist – Marketing Management & Organizations, Former IDC VP CMO Advisory and Customer Experience Practice

Maybe you already have a planning tool and it hasn’t gotten you anywhere. It could be the product, or it could be that your marketing team doesn’t have an established framework of marketing planning processes to shape their workflow. This is a really important area to focus on that on the surface isn’t very exciting, but will reap massive benefits.

Having processes doesn’t equate to zero creativity. Creating a framework that keeps everyone in lockstep will save time and energy that would be better spent on marketing activities. Use that free time for more brainstorming sessions or enjoying the bandwidth to actually bring some of your great ideas to life!

3. Budget Visibility is the First Step to Full Visibility of Marketing Impact

No one wants to think that their team is flushing cash down the drain by investing in marketing programs that produce zero impact. The problem is determining which programs aren’t returning enough investment to justify the cost, and knowing where you can move those dollars to make a bigger impact.

To find the programs that are hemorrhaging cash, you need to start mapping revenue outcomes back to your initial investments. If you don’t know how much you initially invested in a program, you’ve got no hope of knowing if it was a good decision, and you definitely don’t want to keep making the same mistake. Once that first domino of budget visibility falls, it creates a cascading effect of better visibility into which marketing plans are actionable and where you’re seeing the best return on investments. 

Our best advice (and something we can help with) is to find yourself a marketing performance management platform that empowers you to map revenue to investment, track the data, and understand the results.

4. Align Your Marketing Team Around Shared Goals

We’ve talked before about how marketing needs to align their goals and targets to corporate goals. This is the same idea, but trickled down through the marketing team. Product marketing and demand generation may have different targets, but both of their activities should be in service of a goal shared by the entire department. 

Once you have your shared goals, talk about them at regularly scheduled meetings. It might be a 10 minute stand-up every morning or a longer check-in meeting once a week – whatever cadence and format works best for you. The purpose is to have everyone share their main focus for this week, how it’s moving the needle on marketing’s shared goals, and any issues that are preventing them from executing on it.

It’s definitely a more conscious effort to maintain relationships now that we don’t have the same casual happy hour or coffee break meetups. You don’t naturally bump into a coworker on a Zoom chat. But prioritizing connections is so beneficial to creating a happy relationship that builds trust and a stronger foundation for collaboration. 

Julia Stead, CMO Allocadia

These meetings are great because you leave knowing everyone’s priorities for the week and maybe even a solution to the blocker you were facing. If you have a big marketing team that requires more than two pizzas to feed (see Jeff Bezos’s rule), hold meetings in small groups – and maybe reconsider your team structure. The longer you wait to focus on team alignment, the farther people and activities grow apart and it will make bringing them together a lot more difficult.

5. Maximize Your Output With Integrated Marketing Campaigns 

Take that internal alignment, and push it externally with your programs. If Demand Generation is organizing a webinar, your content team should be working on a piece to support it. Conversely if there are themes that your marketing organization wants to talk about this quarter, the programs you run should reflect that. Maximizing the work your team is already doing through cross promotion and shared resources is the smart way to run your marketing department. Your marketers time is valuable – stop creating in silos and start seeing results from a concerted marketing effort.

Depending on your department size, you may be able to coordinate this using the platforms and processes covered earlier in the list. However, this could be the perfect time for your marketing operations genius to move into a more strategic position. Instead of a reactive role, take this chance to optimize marketing operations. They are uniquely positioned to create efficiency on your team by coordinating the various tools and platforms, team members, campaign messaging, and aligning marketing efforts to the CMO’s priorities and business objectives. 

Creating efficiency isn’t a one stop shop. Every individual, department, and company has their own battle to fight and has a different adjustment to make. If your team is already doing all of the above, congratulations you’re ahead of the curve! 

But realistically there is always room for improvement. If you’re following these five steps, are you sure you’re doing it to the maximum? If your team is still tired and strapped for time, you need to make a change. Do something about it today, so that you and your marketing team have a better tomorrow.

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