Do you feel like your company’s marketing function is inefficient? You’re not alone. Professionals in B2B companies often tell me their marketing doesn’t feel productive, and ask me what they can do to improve.
There are plenty of simple things that could be making your market less efficient than you’d like. For many business-to-business companies (B2Bs), marketing is a relatively new function, so they rarely have rigorous processes around it. It’s also a function that requires input from many people, As a result, if marketers can’t get access to busy decision-makers, determining strategy and content can take forever. And lastly, some marketers don’t have strong project management skills, which can really affect productivity.
Here are a few questions to help you figure out how to make your marketing more efficient:
1. HOW MUCH OF YOUR MARKETING PLAN HAVE YOU COMPLETED?
If your goal is one newsletter a month with three articles, make sure you know how many you’ve actually done. If you’re not meeting your goals, evaluate why: Is it taking too long to write the content? Are the approvers turning around decisions and edits quickly? Is your designer overwhelmed and taking three weeks to get to new projects?
Companies vary in how long particular tactics take, so establish benchmarks for your own organization. Establish a work-back schedule for each tactic so there’s a process to work to—and so you can know where you’re off-track.
2. DO YOU TRACK YOUR TIME?
Make sure you know how many hours your marketers spend producing content, in meetings, and so on every week. At our marketing company, we track our time based on the tactics we’re working on and how long we spend in meetings. We can then assess every month (or for every client) how long things are really taking.
This data is a great catalyst for boosting efficiency. When we tell a client that we’re spending a third of our time in meetings with them rather than delivering marketing initiatives, they’re always keen to find ways to make those meetings more efficient and effective.
3. ARE YOU GETTING RESULTS?
It’s important to differentiate between marketing activities and marketing results. Results are what matter, but you don’t get results without undertaking activities. If your activities are taking longer than you expected but they’re delivering phenomenal results, that’s not a major issue you need to tackle. But if you’re slow to finish activities and they aren’t producing results (for example, leads), you have a problem. Marketing automation tools, like Hubspot and Marketo, are great at tracking both activities and results. Through these dashboards, you always have immediate access to what’s being done, and what kind of results you’re achieving.
Through all Mezzanine’s experience in outsourced marketing for clients over the years, we’ve learned that there are two elements that are best for improving efficiency: project management and defined processes.
Project management for marketing is nothing fancy, and follows the same norms as project management for IT, operations or any other business function. In my experience, relatively few marketers have a PMP (Project Management Professional) designation, and that’s fine, as long as they have good project management skills. A marketer who sets clear deadlines, communicates frequently, and follows up to ensure the team members are sticking to their commitments, is a good marketer!
You also need defined processes. Each member of your team needs to understand what he or she needs to deliver and when, and how the component fits into the overall initiative. Clear schedules and work-back plans for each marketing initiative (a webinar, a website relaunch, a tradeshow) help a team keep on track and on time.
For most small and mid-sized B2B companies, marketing is a work in progress. Efficiency is an important area for marketers to focus on—too many people think it’s ”artsy,” and a lack of tangible deliverables only contributes to that misperception. Your marketers need to set standards for what they plan to produce, then deliver on them.
This article originally appeared on ProficGuide.com