Ever feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? Well, maybe there are. By introducing better working practices and taking a fresh look at our approach to marketing, we can achieve more by wasting less. Welcome to lean marketing.

Consider your current marketing plan: how much of it was carried over from the previous version? And if it resembles last year’s plan, what reason is there to expect change from last year’s results? Lean marketing is about examining the processes, campaigns and work undertaken by the marketing team to understand which activities are contributing to the business and marketing goals and which are wasteful.

Is it a good use of your time to repeatedly send logo versions to staff members? How about sending dozens of emails back and forth to tweak a version of campaign artwork? Lean marketing is about stepping back and assessing the work you do every day to think about what is productive and what is busy work. We’ve singled out five areas in which we believe many marketing teams experience waste. See how many of these ring true with you.

Looking at your working day through the lens of identifying ‘waste’ it is then time to take steps to eliminate that waste.


Waste in marketing 1: Lack of priorities

A team without clear priorities will spend time working on projects that simply don’t bring in a good return on investment. This is a massive source of waste in marketing, and can come about for all sorts of reasons.

For example, we’ve all been guilty of prioritising a piece of work solely on the basis of who’s requested it. If one of your directors asks for a 200-page publication for use as a business development tool, the fact that you know your team’s time would be better spent on other projects doesn’t stop you saying yes. Regardless of your doubts about its value.

With clearly defined, transparent priorities, you will be better equipped to deal with such requests. You will be able to respond to the director by asking which is more important – the business development book, or Project 1, designed to achieve Priority A? Something has to give.

Constant appraisal of your team’s priorities is crucial. If your business environment changes, you need to be able to adjust your priorities to react. This is one of the benefits of lean marketing: short project cycles and regular iteration will make your team much more manoeuvrable when facing changing priorities.


Waste in marketing 2: Dealing with requests

How many times a day do you see the phrase “Can you just?” in an email? From the sender’s perspective, they’re asking you to do something which should take only five minutes – and what’s the harm in that?

But the truth is that very few things genuinely do take five minutes. Approving an event invitation email or a piece of artwork might seem like an insignificant task – until your copywriter picks up that the entire email is written in the passive voice, or your designer realises the artwork features an outdated version of your company logo.

And so five minutes very quickly escalates to an hour-long back-and-forth by email. And then there’s the waste caused by being distracted from what you were working on, and having to regain your focus. “Can you just?” emails might seem innocuous, but they are one of the biggest culprits of lost time in marketing.

ROI360 eliminates this source of waste by providing local teams with the power to create flexible artwork within brand-friendly templates, and centralising request management. No more digging through your inbox to find that request email – everything is organised in one place. And all artwork complies with your brand guidelines.


Waste in marketing 3: Lack of measurement

Lean marketing thrives on data. If you’re not measuring the success of your campaigns and revising them accordingly, your results are almost certainly suffering.

Consider every campaign a test, and gather as much relevant data as you can about its impact. Use that data to iterate. Change your landing page copy, mix up the order of the elements in your email, vary your subject lines – run A/B tests and record changes to your customer journeys. Never be afraid to experiment.

Internal data is important too: if you lead a central marketing team with a network of local marketers spread across multiple sites, data about each local marketer’s activities will allow you to identify which campaigns are proving popular among your network, and to spot gaps in local coverage. ROI360 puts this valuable information in your hands.


Waste in marketing 4: Confusing central and local responsibilities

For a company with a head office and many satellite branches or shops, it can be difficult to strike the right balance between centrally controlled and locally controlled marketing. Generally speaking, decentralising the nitty-gritty of marketing – the creation of marketing materials and local campaigns – makes marketing communications more personalised and more effective.

This also frees up the central team to take care of strategic marketing work, where their company-wide overview can be put to better use. If your central team is putting together local campaigns, or your local marketing teams are spending time working on projects that don’t apply to their immediate area, it’s likely that you could improve your working practices.

You can explore this topic in more detail by reading our article, Managing local marketing.


Waste in marketing 5: Administration

This one’s a real biggie. Whether it’s unnecessarily being copied into emails that require no action from you or attending meetings that didn’t really need to happen in the first place, needless administration eats up a vast amount of our working day.

Fortunately, by introducing new systems you can greatly alleviate this burden. This is one of the guiding principles of ROI360’s design: to reduce marketing admin and free up marketers to focus on projects that impact the bottom line.


Work smarter, not harder

These causes of waste in the workplace are borne out by the results of research conducted in 2015. The Powering Productivity study asked 515 business leaders and key decision-makers across Europe what the biggest causes of workplace inefficiency were. The top three results were as follows:

  • Inefficient processes
  • Overload of paperwork
  • Meetings

And the answer? Those business leaders virtually unanimously (96 per cent) agreed that the solution lies in technology. As the report says:

“Efficiency and technological investment go hand-in-hand – businesses strive for less wasted time, and working smarter by putting the right tools in place helps these businesses feel more confident in achieving their productivity goals.”


Supporting lean marketing: ROI360

So what are these ‘right tools’ referred to in the report? For many marketing teams, the answer could be a marketing portal.

ROI360 is one such portal, designed to increase the efficiency of your marketing efforts. It dramatically simplifies the approval process, provides local teams with the power to create marketing materials they know will work and you know will be on-brand, and features detailed analytics to support an iterative, lean marketing approach.

The software is designed for specific organisational models that would benefit from a portal. To find out if your organisation would benefit, take our quick quiz to find out your Marketing Portal Suitability Score.

You can also explore the software for yourself by setting up a free demo account – no credit card required