marketing process strength With business intelligence and shared knowledge being keys to marketing agility and turnover being an unfortunate reality inside marketing departments, how much marketing know-how is walking out the door when employees leave  your company? Weak marketing processes mean you’re over-relying on individuals and risking repeatability of successes.  A web search of 1,000 results for “strong marketing processes” reveals our collective pre-occupation with strong marketing partnerships, strong marketing strategies, strong brands, and strong understanding of marketing — but nearly nothing about strong marketing processes!

What happens when marketing organizations over-rely on people and under-rely on processes?  An online discussion among marketing experts explored that question. The following are a few insights collected during an online discussion that flushes out the challenges and provides helpful solutions.

Marketing Silos Kill Innovation & Continuity
Over-dependence on people can lead to burn-out, knowledge silos, and critical interruptions. Even more threatening is the fact that knowledge and intellectual value may walk right out the door when employees leave at 5 pm. And when that happens, monitoring and interpretation of metrics walk right out the door with them. Smooth customer interaction processes are then at risk as well.

Relationship-building processes such as innovation are at risk when marketing organizations have an imbalance of strong people versus strong processes. Supporting processes such as analytics, data management, planning, campaign execution, and outcome tracking in support of decision-making, could also be endangered.

Barriers to strong marketing processes include lack of process management training and process tools.  Understanding systems and processes is especially critical. “Shoot from the hip mentality” is very prevalent, leading to knowledge hoarding, process aversion, and silo behaviors.

Marketing Operations to the Rescue
Marketers striving to strengthen their processes often use process diagrams to better understand and document workflows, A visual, panoramic mindset enables the marketing team to get in sync with the customer buying process.  Knowledge management takes this alignment of process with customer need one step further, improving agility with actionable insights. These techniques can make other organizational processes such as succession planning become more realistic. Marketing Operations is the functional area typically driving the use of all of these tools.

On a broader scale, establishing organizational learning processes in marketing supports knowledge management and builds cross-functional relationships. And it is these relationships that foster the process models that can contribute so much to marketing. The on-boarding/training of various functional groups like sales, marketing, and customer service can improve processes and cooperation. With process models and knowledge management, it might be possible to surmount the biggest hurdle and link organizational learning to improved financial results.

Automation and marketing resource management (MRM) can be instrumental in strengthening marketing processes. The rise of “big data” analysis and the prevalence of social/mobile media for communication and collaboration certainly impact the need for marketing process strength. Executive leaders’ commitment to invest in Marketing Operations can be a deciding factor in success of the foregoing efforts. Marketing Operations is a lynchpin to effective marketing.

Keep essential know-how intact and strengthen marketing processes for the best business results:

  • Diagram processes to support decision models
  • Leverage marketing automation and social media tools

Note: online discussion participants were Simon Daniels, Helene Eichler, Gary Katz, MaryAnn Long, Juan Montermoso, Anand Thaker.