Marketers today have advantages that their predecessors wouldn’t have dreamed possible. Take real-time campaign tracking and monitoring, for instance. Marketing teams can see what’s happening live, enabling them to make instant adjustments. Yet marketing employees can’t take advantage of opportunities if their team efficiency is lacking.
The cost of being inefficient in such a fast-paced environment is substantial. Slow response time can do more than just hurt initiatives like lead-generation efforts. It can hamper a company’s ability to hit quarterly revenue goals or stay ahead of the competition. As if that weren’t bad enough, marketing inefficiency makes scaling practically impossible. Organizations can’t successfully handle massive growth without optimization in every department.
How to Improve Team Efficiency
If you’re a marketing director, you want to balance team efficiency with high performance. It doesn’t make sense to sacrifice effectiveness for efficiency. You need both. That’s why you need to consider recommendations like the five below that strike a solid efficiency-effectiveness balance.
1. Aim for a shared marketing team purpose.
It’s a fact: Teams that row in the same direction will go in the same direction. To ensure that all your direct reports are rowing in tandem, you need to share a common purpose. Having a shared purpose avoids unnecessary roadblocks related to people working at cross purposes.
The McChrystal Group advisory services firm regularly helps teams work faster without losing productivity or communication. According to the firm’s research, only 37% of respondents agreed that teams within their organization shared the same perspective on how to achieve success in their industry.
It’s important that employees understand the purpose behind their work and agree on the path forward. Employees who report that they understand how their team’s goals contribute to organizational objectives are nearly 3X more likely to be highly engaged.
You can’t just name a purpose and expect everyone to fall in line with it. Instead, you need to weave the purpose throughout all marketing team efforts and outcomes. Whenever possible, measure purpose progress with metrics like project quality and employee satisfaction scores. Remember the old saying: What gets measured, gets managed. When you measure purpose, you make certain it won’t be back-burnered.
2. Narrow down your martech tools.
It’s easy to get intrigued by all the technology and systems available to further your marketing abilities. However, what you don’t want is an overload of technical systems. As pointed out in a SHRM article, many employees have to switch between 10+ apps. The result is that they lose time to endless interruptions, especially when the apps don’t integrate and require separate logins.
How do you know if your martech stack is getting in the way of a smoother workflow? Ask your people to help you make a list of all your systems and what they do. Next, look for gaps and overlap. Once those are identified, find out how to fix them. For example, you might want to make better use of an underutilized platform like a project management system. Or you could look for a tech product that will do the same thing as two or more of your current tech solutions.
The bottom line is that a few solid pieces of integrated tech are probably all you need. Even if you have ambitious marketing objectives, you shouldn’t inhibit team efficiency with a complex martech stack. Instead, look for ways to get leaner without losing the core capabilities you and your team want.
3. Automate whatever makes sense.
What if your creatives had more time to actually create? Or strategize? They can, but only after they’ve been relieved of their most repetitive manual duties. A study from Automation Anywhere shows that around 40% of office work falls into the repetitive category. That means for every 40 hours one of your team members works, 16 hours are spent on mind-numbing tasks.
Automation software can help you make more room for innovation. And there’s no dearth of automation systems for marketers. From deploying content and registering invoices to gathering KPIs and producing reports, you can automate plenty. This allows your group to focus harder on projects and ideas that require serious brainpower.
It’s worth mentioning that automation software can also be your ally if you’re dealing with a trimmed marketing budget. Additionally, you may be able to avoid adding more people to your team so you can stay efficient even despite a small staff.
4. Put an end to endless meetings.
A well-timed, pithy meeting can be terrific. How many meetings fall under those classifications, though? Very few, unfortunately. On the contrary, most marketing meetings can take on lives of their own. This makes meetings one of the biggest contributors to team inefficiency.
True, you need some meetings to drive crowdsourced concepts. Nevertheless, you can’t let meetings usurp productivity or progress. You need to tame them by taking three major steps. Number one, insist that all meetings have a set agenda that doesn’t allow for diversions. (Any diversions should be tabled for another discussion between the actual stakeholders.) Number two, keep meetings short. Number three, role model these meeting behaviors. If you make any exceptions, you’ll have trouble correcting your meeting-focused culture.
How will you know when you’ve conquered the out-of-hand meeting? You’ll notice that people won’t jump on meetings to solve every problem. In fact, you might see a surge in asynchronous communication methods like Slack and email.
5. Empower your team to take action with authority.
Authority snags are common obstacles for marketing teams that are struggling to become more efficient. For example, it may take several sign-offs before a video marketing script is approved for production. In a perfect world, this wouldn’t cause much fuss. The world isn’t perfect, however. If one authority figure isn’t available, the whole campaign could grind to an abrupt and frustrating stop.
Too many rungs of authority can mean missed opportunities — and missed deadlines. Take a step back and look at all your approval processes. Can some be shortened? Could more than one person be authorized to give the green light on certain initiatives?
Empowering specific individuals on your team doesn’t mean giving up control as a manager. You’re just delegating, which is another avenue toward efficiency. Each authorized team member will simply be accountable for making informed decisions based on available data and related factors. The only difference will be fewer waits and more pushes toward the finish line.
When it comes to marketing team efficiency, you can’t sit back and hope it happens. Old habits tend to stick around until they’re called out and ousted. The only way to get the advantages of a well-oiled system is by making thoughtful changes designed for maximum optimization.