By Mathew Love
Has your marketing team been tasked with running more “agile” as part of a wider effort to keep your organization and brand competitive?
Has the pace of campaigns, content and customer projects increased without any more budget, staff, agency partners or guidelines for how to simultaneously quality check and put your brand’s best foot forward?
You’re not alone.
Marketing departments around the world are being challenged with a pressure to move faster, but without the luxury and permission to “break things”, as Facebook’s original motto went (it is now “move fast, with stable infrastructure”).
One mistake can leave a brand scarred, facing public backlash or open an opportunity for a challenger to pounce. So, an increase in speed within the marketing department needs to be met with a better way of incorporating stages of feedback in the marketing process.
Better internal processes can be updated to keep pace, but many marketing departments aren’t structured for agile collaboration with their own internal teams nor with their external agencies and collaborators. A better process, therefore, requires a willingness by all the team members in the marketing department to be open to self-improvement, early-stage feedback and checking their work more continuously for risks and opportunities to strengthen their work.
And, just as you’d check yourself in the mirror before heading out to an important meeting, gathering feedback is vital to ensure that your idea is well-groomed enough before you take it out in public.
Here are the top five ways you can introduce internal feedback steps that will help your marketing department run more agile:
You may have already asked yourself what you’re trying to achieve through your project or idea, but have you asked your colleagues or outside partners what they think this may be? There can sometimes be a misalignment in what you believe your ultimate goal is, and what your teammates, agencies or collaborators believe that you are trying to accomplish. So, take a moment to present the idea or project in its entirety to your colleagues, and discover what they feel it’s trying to achieve. This may help to fine-tune your thinking but also expand on your original goal or reframe the project.
Two example question types that could help:
Exploratory: “What do you think I’m trying to achieve with the project on behalf of the brand or product?”
Risk: “Is there anything you can think of that would threaten this project from achieving the goal that I may not be thinking of”
How do you plan on delivering your idea or project to the market? Is it feasible and appropriate for the current spec or target market? Is a new website, marketing campaign or brand repositioning really the best way to achieve more awareness with high school students? Do you know all your options?
Again, you may have an inkling about what’s right here, but without putting it to your colleagues and gathering the appropriate feedback, you’ll never know what other tools you have. Even if you receive a few different answers from them about what they believe is the best route to take here, it’s still valuable to consider and understand.
An example question type:
Projection: “If you were me, how would you be trying to reach the goals of the project?”
Do you know who your project or idea is directed at and more importantly, why? What’s also important here is gathering feedback on whether your colleagues are convinced that it’s the right target market for the idea or project, and vice versa. Through feedback, your teammates may have identified a potentially more lucrative audience for your project, or help you refine your own even further which will help sharpen any distribution tactic (advertising, email, etc) and the messaging of the project.
You can take things a little further too, and discuss why they feel the way they do, and how they feel the idea or project can be altered to better suit your intended target market.
This is an essential part of the feedback process, but it can also be tricky because it may involve many different, and often conflicting, opinions. It could also be repeated multiple times to gather feedback in the early stages vs. later stages. Although you’ll get feedback that is based on an individual’s own opinion on the creative resource that you’re going to use, it’s still possible to collate the information and find some common ground. For example, what’s the central theme in the feedback you’re getting from your colleagues? Is it that the assets aren’t colorful or bright enough, or maybe that they’re too busy? You’ll quickly be able to cut through the noise of individual opinions and get straight to the heart of what your colleagues are trying to tell you.
Remember, it’s important to guide your collaborators and teammates, especially in this part of the process, to provide feedback on what you need a gut check on. If you don’t actually want feedback on color patterns or copy (either because you’re confident in the decision you took, or because it was just a placeholder and will be improved later in the process), ask more strategic questions and mention that you aren’t looking for art direction.
Some important feedback questions for the creative process:
Exploratory: “what are your first impressions when you see this website/logo/package/tv campaign?”
Alignment: “what target market do you think this is meant for?”
Guided Negative: “what is not working in this website/package design/radio ad?”
This type of feedback is related to the tools and tracking techniques you’re planning on employing to measure the success of your idea or project’s launch. Your colleagues will be able to remove any doubt from your mind whether you’ve made the right choice, or maybe steer you in the right direction if you’ve strayed off course here. Remember, measuring the success of your idea or project is important so that you can link it back to your goal and realize how you’ve performed!
Once you’ve managed to piece together the various sources of internal feedback throughout the marketing process, you’ll have an even better idea of what your project or idea will look like after it launches. This not only helps you plan it out better and ensure that you’re hitting the mark with what you want to achieve but greatly increases the chance of ensuring quality work that keeps pace with the needs of agile marketing departments.