B2B marketing leaders I talk to never have enough time to do everything. Setting priorities is a first step to accomplishing what’s most important. However, getting organized by creating and documenting your marketing business processes is equally important.
Read on to learn how marketing processes provide method to what feels like your daily marketing madness. Whether you have a large marketing team or only a few (even I have some documented processes for myself!), implementing marketing processes can help you accomplish more and deliver better results!
B2B marketing business process defined
A business process is simply a detailed list or diagram of repeatable tasks needed to deliver a product or service. Typically tasks are linked together or organized chronologically to indicate the sequence of activities and who is responsible. I was first introduced to the term “business process” back in 2000 when I was leading a CRM team. One of my first tasks was to understand and document the business processes for the organization front office teams such as sales, marketing, and customer service. For a B2B marketing team, business processes relate to tasks that happen repeatedly. For example, creating a content piece, trade shows, or handing off leads to sales.
B2B marketers who organize tasks and workflows are 541% more successful than those who don’t according to the study, State of B2B Marketing Strategy Report 2019 by CoSchedule.
If you’ve implemented CRM or marketing automation tools you had to set up some marketing processes just to configure the system. In fact, not having processes already in place can be a major stumbling block during implementation – remember it’s people and process first, then the technology!
5 symptoms of not having B2B marketing processes
Let’s discuss 5 symptoms you may be experiencing because you don’t have marketing processes in place.
- Inconsistency in quality and delivery times, and often missing deadlines.
- Difficulty onboarding new marketing team members or outside resources.
- Longer term projects never seem to get done because of daily marketing tasks and “putting out fires”.
- Can’t track leads from interest through to revenue.
- Data analysis is hard, if not impossible, because data quality and completeness are lacking.
No doubt, these lead to a lot of frustration and stress for you and your marketing team.
Won’t using documented marketing processes kill creativity?
So maybe you’re thinking, “implementing marketing processes will take too much time, and more importantly, it will kill creativity”. I would argue just the opposite! Having marketing processes in place will reduce chaos and frustration, which in turn will let creativity flourish.
More benefits of using marketing processes
Most of the five symptoms mentioned above will disappear. It’ll be easier to onboard new employees and use outside resources, for example. Cross training your marketing team is much easier when there’s a written process for the responsibility. Having documented marketing processes increases efficiency which means you can get more done. Plus, following a process results in higher quality work because steps aren’t forgotten and tasks aren’t rushed. It helps insure compliance with corporate policies such as data compliance, copyright laws, and brand standards.
Work smarter, not harder using marketing business processes
Of course it’s not always easy to document and implement processes. However, creating and documenting marketing processes helps you figure out where there are problems or delays from:
- duplication of effort
- lack of communication
Working through this facilitates getting your marketing team in alignment. It also gets marketing in alignment with sales, customer service, and others your team interfaces with to better accomplish tasks and projects. In the end your B2B marketing team will work smarter, not harder, to deliver results.
Which marketing processes to focus on?
It can be overwhelming to get started, so it can be helpful to think about prioritizing which processes to work on first. Think in terms of the following two types of tasks to decide which processes to work on first:
- Occasional, but detailed tasks – tasks that don’t happen that often, say a quarterly website traffic report or newsletter, or a marketing brochure for example, but which require many different detailed steps and/or involve other teams.
- Projects your team spends the most time on – the most time consuming tasks or projects probably offer the highest efficiency improvement potential. For example, content creation, trade shows, and lead nurture email campaigns can be very time consuming. Focusing on these, you’ll make a more significant impact on deliverable deadlines and quality.
If you’ve never tried to map out a business process before, it may be best to start with a process that you know well and is not too complicated.
What does a documented marketing process look like?
Documenting your B2B marketing business processes can use different formats, from simple one-page documents to sophisticated marketing automation workflows. To start with, keep it simple by working with a Word document. Or use a flowchart diagramming software like Visio (a couple of free alternatives are DIA and yEd Graph Editor) to map out your processes.
Most marketing business processes use one of the following formats:
- Checklist or numbered list of tasks – Ideal for simple processes that one person performs. I use a checklist for blog post creation and promotion, for example. Tasks are in sequential order with the details I need to make posting and promoting efficient and effective. This helps me know the best image size for WordPress, Twitter, and LinkedIn which I can never recall!
- Flowchart diagrams and workflows – Best for more complicated processes and/or those which involve multiple people or approvals. Creating or revising product literature often falls into this category because there’s at least a writer and designer involved, and usually a product manager, sales, legal, and others who need to review and approve.
- Questionnaire or forms – Very similar to a checklist, a questionnaire or form can be used as a final quality check in a larger process. Or use it as a reminder of everything to do and consider during the process. This can be useful for processes which are difficult to put into a prescribed list of tasks. For example, I use a questionnaire form when clients ask me to create new marketing content. It’s similar to a checklist, but includes the client name, deadline, and the list of questions I need to ask to fully understand the content needs such as topic, audience, format, etc. This saves a lot of time and sets the client expectation.
Reducing the madness improves the marketing
As you document processes within your marketing team, you’ll likely find ways to improve. It’s beneficial to ask yourself and others why they do each step in the process. If you hear, “Because I’ve always done it that way”, that’s a sure sign for process improvement. This business process improvement, or “reengineering”, opportunity is a great reason to create marketing processes!
Get organized using documented business processes to reduce frustration and stress for you and your B2B marketing team, and accomplish more!
Could your B2B marketing team could benefit from documented business processes? Using an outside, dedicated resource is an excellent way to do it quickly while minimizing disruption to your current marketing operations. Get in touch with me to discuss your needs.
Susan Mitchell is owner of B2B Marketing Source and a freelance B2B marketing consultant to domestic and international firms. She provides marketing strategy, content marketing, sales enablement tools, and lead generation as an extension of your B2B marketing team or to fill resource and capability gaps. Visit her blog “Musings on B2B Marketing” to read more.