Is it time to review your marketing approval process?
By Jodie Byass
In 2023, companies are facing a host of challenges, including tight budgets and increased workloads. Amid these constraints, it is essential to find ways to streamline processes and optimize efficiency. For marketing teams, this means taking a critical look at existing processes and workflows and identifying areas for improvement. By optimizing approval workflows and communication channels, teams can collaborate more seamlessly and improve productivity, even in the face of budgetary constraints and increasing workloads.
If management has finally recognised that there's a need to implement a solution, or you've tasked yourself with assessing your team's efficiency, it can be a little overwhelming starting from scratch with the sheer number of tools available. So, if you're still unsure whether it's your marketing approval process that is actually in need of a revamp, ask yourself a few key questions:
- Are you spending most of your time chasing up assets and approvals over email?
- Do your projects lack accountability when it comes to ownership or deadlines?
- Are you relying on handwritten mark-ups that are difficult to decipher or almost impossible to manage working from home?
- Do you have difficulty collating feedback, or are notes from stakeholders getting overlooked or lost during the approval process?
- Is your team experiencing bottlenecks or delays between completing projects and getting the assets to market?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then it?s time to review your approval processes and implement a system that will help you get your assets to market with fewer mistakes and less delays.
Where to start: How to review your current process and see what areas need improvement
Before you even start looking at what software or tools might be best for your business or marketing team, it's important to take a look at your current process and see what pain points you actually need to solve. One of the easiest ways of doing this is by walking through each stage of your existing workflow (if you can track it!) and monitoring where bottlenecks or additional manual labour is holding up your marketing projects. Here are a few suggestions to review each stage and ask yourself where you can make improvements:
Submissions: How are projects being submitted, who are they being submitted by or to, is there a template for this, what needs to be included in the initial proposal?
Permission Levels: Who is responsible for what, who needs access to what, will different people have different levels of permission ie. graphic designer vs client?
Tiers and Approvals: Are there different tiers for approval and feedback, who can edit these steps, who can provide feedback, who needs to approve these before they can move onto the next stakeholder or department?
Final Approval: Who has the final say on the project, is it a single person or a few stakeholders, is this defined at the beginning of the project, what other information do they need?
Due Dates: When is the final deadline for the project, how long does the approval process usually take, will the project need to go to approval much earlier than the final deadline to make it to market in time?
Reminders: Who is accountable for the project, do people need reminders about approvals or deadlines, are these being done manually or automated?
Once you've marked down the issues with your current process you'll be in a better position to review whether these systems need to be completely revamped or simply improved upon. This will also give you the opportunity to analyse which areas are already working well and what you can do to replicate these systems.
Finding the right solution: Why do I need a marketing approval tool and how will it help us?
Once you've been able to decipher what stakeholders, departments and essential touch points are involved in your approval process you might think the obvious answer is to simply implement a more effective solution for managing all of this. And while you're correct, you're also going to need to be more explicit about what you are looking for in a new tool.
One of the biggest benefits of adopting marketing approval software is that you can tailor it exactly to what your marketing team needs and how you operate. Think about whether you need a solution that:
- Helps reduce marketing approval times
- Enables online proofing, mark-ups and annotations
- Allocates project milestones and dates for each stakeholder
- Will store final files in a central online location
- Offers a tiered approval process so different departments or stakeholders can review marketing collateral at different stages of the approval workflow
- Allows batched approvals of similar assets to save time
- Sends automated notes and deadlines to stakeholders in the process to save time on manual reminders
It's also important to look at what sort of content you create and what mediums need to be supported, as well as the volume of assets you produce. For example, admation's marketing approval software can manage resources across graphic design, photography, and video, in a range of sizes and styles suitable for different advertising or social media assets.
The benefit of designing your desired means you'll be able to implement the right system from the get-go, making it easier on the teams involved, speeding up implementation, and helping you stay on top of your budget.
Implementation: Making sure you've found the right fit
Now you think you've found the ideal marketing workflow approval to suit what you want, and you're ready to sign up and reap the benefits of more efficient marketing workflows, it's time to ask a few final questions to make sure you've found the right fit.
Is reporting on marketing projects important?
If you need a tool that can provide reports make sure you know exactly what kind of report you need, the data it needs to include, and in what format you need it. Does the solution allow you to have custom reports created for your specific business needs? Who has access to these reports, and can you set different tiers of accessibility for manager levels or external stakeholders?
What time frame do you have for implementation?
While you need to focus on finding the right solution, it's also important to remember that time means money. You need to ensure the vendor you find not only has the right solution, but they can implement it within your desired timeframes. It could be worth liaising with your IT department here as they may have some good questions to consider that you may not have thought of. Ensure that any software you choose includes training, and look for a vendor who offers great support, from implementation through to ongoing maintenance.
What is your budget?
It's the million-dollar question, but ensuring you get the right solution within your budget will save you a lot of pain in the long run. Be clear on what your budget is from the get-go and remember in life "you get what you pay for".
Is there room to scale?
Finally, as customisable as you want your new approval workflow to be, you also want to make sure that there is room to grow if you need it long term. Look for a provider who can add additional accounts, provide extra training, and add bonus features into your approval process if your clients grow or your offerings expand. Making sure that you have a system that can be adapted in the future will mean that when your business does grow, you don't need to go through this entire process again!
Need some more help? Download our free guide on Selecting the right marketing approval & workflow software.