Key Capabilities of Execution
During the execution phase marketing teams carry out the plan outlined during the alignment stage and content assets are produced.
In the alignment phase, marketing leadership and stakeholders identify the strategic components of a marketing plan. In the execution stage, marketing teams need to collaboratively work out the tactical details of how content will be produced.
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Marketers must have a plan for collaborating with one another across a broad set of teams, tools, and channels. Accountability to roles and responsibilities for all participants and corresponding tools and techniques must be firmly established.
Before beginning content development, teams should be able to clearly identify:
Necessary workflow steps for each initiative and content TACTIC
Standardized workflows enhance efficiency and reduce the need for back and forth emails.
Team and individual roles and responsibilities
To better facilitate collaboration between people and teams roles and responsibilities
Empowering teams to create content around a central strategy requires a process to support the following three capabilities: collaboration, accountability, and escalation.
Many stakeholders are involved in the content development process—from the actual content producers (writers, freelancers, designers, etc.) to internal subject matter experts and content consumers (leadership, sales, consultants, etc.). Cross coordinating across all of the stakeholders involved can be cumbersome and time consuming. Email chains quickly become unmanageable and status becomes unclear.
The first step toward a more efficient execution process is to outline and document workflow steps at both the initiative level and asset level. This enables marketers to focus on content creation and worry less about the logistics of cross-functional collaboration.
Best Practice: Templatized Worflows
Workflows should be kept simple and standard so they can be generally applied. The purpose of an initiative workflow is not to outline every task needed to produce content—these steps are covered in the asset workflow—but are intended to make visible key milestones that indicate the progress of the initiative.
Each initiative type should have a standard workflow and content to support it. This prevents teams from reinventing the wheel each time they need to create a new initiative. An initiative workflow for a content pillar might look like this:
Content Pillar Initiative Tasks
Submit Initiative Proposal Identify Keywords Submit Lead Generation Plan Submit Creative Brief Meet for PR/Social Needs Launch
A tactic, or any marketing activity, can be any piece of collateral created to support an initiative. Tactics can be blog posts, eBooks, emails, case studies, videos, etc. Each tactic used within an organization should have a standard workflow for completion.
Submit Review/Edit Design Final Approval Publish
When building workflows at both the initiative and tactic levels, tasks should be concise and consistent to avoid over engineering the workflow.
For an integrated marketing model to work, a system for holding stakeholders and producers accountable to deadlines and deliverables is needed. The cross-functional nature of an integrated marketing teams calls for a clear process for hand-offs during the production process.
To establish a process for achieving accountability within a marketing organization, roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined. These roles and role definitions should be standard across workflows for assets and initiatives. The standardization of roles and responsibilities keeps expectations clear and accountability is easily identified.
Best Practice: Roles and Responsibilities Definition
Once teams have determined the workflow tasks necessary to execute a marketing initiative or content asset, tasks need to be assigned to specific people and/or teams. Rather than dictating, set expectations with task owners ahead of time, providing clarity on high-level goals and visibility into how a task contributes to the overall success.
Campaign owners should be held accountable from the broad initiative level through the detailed task level. By understanding the key roles required to execute an initiative and the content that supports it, you can ensure altitudes of visibility. This means stakeholders know what they’re expected to deliver throughout the workflow, from high-level strategy to specific tasks and approvals.
Here are common roles to incorporate:
Leadership Team / Content Governance Board
Drive the overall content effort
They define the templates around initiatives and assets as well as approve, monitor, and review the initiatives on a regular basis.
content creation and development
Oversee the development of initiative pillars and are responsible for ensuring content is on brand, targeted to the right audience.
initiative-wide project management
Oversee the content board and help manage initiative progress and escalations.
Subject Matter Experts
During execution, the content team should involve the product marketing team for insight into product functionality and messaging.
Social, Events, and Demand Gen
Create and Distribute assets
When it comes to content, these teams are responsible for developing derivative assets from the core content pillar.
While the functions of the marketing organization are at work producing necessary content assets, marketing leadership needs to manage production at the initiative level, assisting in removing roadblocks and monitoring progress.
To handle escalations and make the necessary decisions to keep initiative progress on tack, marketing leadership need to consistently check in on the priorities of the marketing organization and develop a system to quickly alleviate production issues.
Best Practice: Content Board Monitoring Process
Part of the responsibilities of the content board is to monitor the progress and status of initiatives currently in the execution phase.
Inevitably issues will arise causing projects to stall. Best practice is for the content board to have process for monitoring current initiatives and removing roadblocks to keep projects on track. For example:
CIO Cloud Security
Delay on graphics for eBook by Edelman Agency is now 30 days late.
We can choose to: move entire launch date back by 30 days or utilize standard eBook template instead of new design.
In the status example above, the Securita campaign is stalled because an external agency hasn’t provided the necessary graphics. In order to move forward, someone needs to make a decision on how to proceed.
With a process for monitoring initiative status, the content board can receive regular status updates, such as the one above, and be able to quickly make decisions to keep teams on track. Without a monitoring process and the necessary visibility into the status of initiatives, issues like the one above may never surface, causing delays not only for one team but across the entire marketing organization.