Part 2 of an engaging series featuring thought leader Ian Michiels, Principal & CEO at Gleanster Research
It would be nice if everything brand marketers need to do fit nicely inside a three-step process. But one of the major challenges facing CMOs is the fact that every marketing operations environment has unique processes and challenges. It’s not like finance, where structured rules inside an ERP system will support 90% of finance business requirements. In enterprise brands, no two challenges are alike and what may be completely crippling one brand could be a minor issue for another. This poses a huge challenge for vendors who actually have solutions that can address a variety of brand marketing needs. But getting the right message to the right buyer has proven very difficult. It’s sort of up to brand marketers to take the initiative to investigate opportunities to improve. In most cases the cost of inefficiency over 1-2 years can more than justify investments in process re-engineering or technology. But there are universal recommendations we can extract from the research to help CMOs and brand marketers target low-hanging fruit with the lowest investment in time and money and quickest time to value.
Standardize and centralize repetitive processes in marketing execution. Many stakeholders outside of marketing (Finance, CEO, Sales) are ill informed about what it takes to build a credible brand. Long before creative and copy are pushed out in customer-facing communications, they undergo a series of steps in back-office marketing operations. While copy and creative may change over time, the constant need to manage workflow, approve assets, and manage brand consistency stays the same. Today, a variety of very affordable tools exist to help standardize brand marketing efforts in a core system of record. Most of these tools support custom fields, workflows, approval hierarchies, alerts, and 24×7 access to a core system of record for marketing operations. These tools also eliminate the need for manual calendar and project management tasks that may result in version control issues or lack real-time insight. Centralizing repetitive processes also allows the CMO to gain visibility into the status and effectiveness of different initiative.
Focus on operationalizing spend allocation and co-op fund management. Peter Drucker once said “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Generally financial support in brand marketing is a manual nightmare. Operationalizing co-op and MDF fund allocation with software has two significant benefits for brand marketing. One, it ensures local and affiliate marketers use co-op funds effectively and eliminates cumbersome processes. Two, it allows corporate marketing to encourage the use of emerging digital channels by subsidizing investments at the local level, where personalization will have the greatest impact on brand loyalty and customer lifetime value. Today we are seeing a fairly dramatic rise in business justifications for new technology around the need to manage co-op funds. You don’t have to boil the ocean with technology investments. Look for small investments that can generate rapid value for the organization and then expand from there. Co-op fund management is a much-needed area of improvement for large brands, and in many cases brand marketers don’t even know there are affordable and easy-to-implement turnkey technologies that can help.
Remove the rigid processes and steps in brand compliance. There are a handful of ways large brands support brand marketing efforts in a distributed marketing environment. You can lock down the brand and have corporate marketing create and execute all communications (including those requested from local marketers). You can allow local AND corporate marketers to send communications on behalf of the brand and try to support these efforts with brand standards and brand portals. You can find a hybrid approach between the two of these. What we now know from research is that attempts to lock down a brand typically have the opposite effect. Corporate marketing rapidly becomes a bottleneck and may not have context about local nuances. If corporate can’t meet their needs, local marketers become renegades and invest in their own agency relationships, technology, and creative execution. This is a recipe for inefficient spending and brand consistency challenges. A more appropriate approach is to find a happy medium, and that’s just what Local Marketing and Marketing Asset Management tools are designed to do for large brands. These tools allow corporate marketing to configure brand-compliant templates and push them out to local marketers for customization via on-demand infrastructure. Local marketers can then browse through a portal or library of customizable templates from a centralized easy-to-use tool. This allows brand executives to address three major challenges at once: One, the need to manage brand compliance and consistency. Two, supporting local marketers with standardized workflow and approval processes. Three, a centralized platform for measuring holistic brand communications.
Ian Michiels is the Principal & CEO at Gleanster Research. He is a recognized thought leader and accomplished speaker with a wide body of thought leadership on Sales and Marketing technology adoption, demand generation, marketing operations, and the customer experience.
Follow Ian on Twitter: @insightfanatic