Opinion: How to get great ideas to market faster in challenging times
A few weeks ago, we would have told you that speed is the key for success in today’s marketing world. Today, it is essential for survival.
COVID-19 and the resulting issues for brands are presenting unprecedented challenges for marketers. They must act quickly and decisively but, at the same time, their responses must be measured. Easier said than done. If we have learned one thing, it’s that today’s fast-breaking news is an opportunity to reshape your organization to be more adaptive and quicker to react to market conditions that continue to evolve at unprecedented rates.
Speed and agility are not new challenges for marketers. To better understand the issues around moving fast, we recently commissioned a study to see what senior marketers thought of their marketing infrastructure and capabilities.
Only 21 percent of senior marketers we asked said their external partners move at the speed they need.
The marketer and agency models are burdened with silos and power grabs. Adding to the problem is that instead of becoming more agile, more complexity is being added daily from new challengers, new channels and social media’s age of correctness. While there’s an imperative to streamline and welcome diverse solutions, ideas that are finally presented are bogged down by overthinking.
Marketers and agencies alike need to speed up their systems. Here are four ways to get your operations to move at the speed of change so that you are building culturally relevant brand ideas that deliver:
Replace your drawn-out creative processes with agile iteration
One marketer noted that the way they work with partners is the antithesis of rapid agile iteration. “You brief and then it’s three weeks before the agency comes back. The whole thing becomes a painful four to six month process.”
To speed this up, we suggest you Marie Kondo your process and see if it sparks creativity. Take a hard look at how you can provoke your teams to think differently. You might be managing work instead of creating an environment that drives ideas. Get rid of those processes that slow you down and move to shorter sprints and perhaps partners who also move faster.
Establishing a time frame and moving with it, not against it, frees you up to be more active.
Audit your approval systems and empower your employees
Lengthy approval systems inside marketers' own organizations are preventing them from moving at the speed they need. This is most evident in social media when it can take from three days to a week to get a social media post approved. At that point, you lose relevancy and more.
To move with culture as it happens you have to empower your employees. This requires a degree of trust that they will make the right decisions. Establish guidelines, share them and make sure that your own leadership team sets the example.
If you can’t make your entire organization agile, then ensure that you have a crack team designed to move fast. This might require hiring proven talent who are wired for action, versus others who are more deliberate and contemplative. Those individuals have a role, but perhaps not on your front line.
Challenge procurement to design a new partnership structure
As marketers look to new kinds of partners to help them build and move more efficiently, they need to adjust how they scope for those kinds of solutions. Many times, procurement is designed around buying huge quantities of materials. Or working with large organizations and multiple teams of varying levels.
As more marketers embrace in-housing, they are looking for different types of agency partners with on-demand skills to plug into their processes. They need to dedicate someone in procurement to design a new partnership structure that recognizes the value of smaller partners and start-ups who charge differently.
Hone your brand purpose so employees can move fast without breaking things
As one chief marketing officer we spoke with noted, “Once you are clear on the values and beliefs of your brand, you are able to have a point of view and react in real time.”
Having a clear positioning or purpose should be fundamental, but it frequently gets neglected as people chase short-term sales and revenue objectives. But if you pay attention to what you stand for and socialize that throughout your enterprise, then your teams are empowered to bring it to life every day in a fast and agile way.
The need to get ideas to market fast is not going to slow down. To enable innovation to have an impact, we need to build a structure that is trusted, empowered and can deliver in real time.