In Tom Colaprico

FIELD INSIGHTS
Tom Colaprico, VP Strategy & Optimization, Quad/Graphics

A multichannel approach to marketing feels like a moving target sometimes. Having to plan for social media, paid media, email, direct mail, content and so much more demands strategy and customization, of course. But investing time and money before you publish will mean you won’t have to reinvent the wheel with every post. The most important consideration is to put the content first in your approach, viewing the channels simply as the means for distribution. With this approach every team will be working more efficiently from a single starting point.

It’s more important than ever to
create a consistent message, no matter where your audience
encounters it.

It’s no surprise with so many marketing departments having their start decades ago, today they’re not structured to repurpose quality content across 8-10 channels. This gap is at the heart of Percolate’s 2017 “Cost of Creativity” study, which indicates companies are spending too much time and money developing messages. It questions whether this time and money would be better spent on deployment and distribution. After all, 51 percent of the 200 CMOs, VPs and marketing executives Percolate surveyed felt the up-front cost was too great when it comes to creating content.

Those respondents cited specific pain-points, including production time, workflows and briefing processes. That’s where they found inefficiencies most apparent — and most expensive. What some call “non-working spend” eats up too much of the budget in their minds. But that’s where your creators create. And the growing number of channels means they have to create more.

Making the time

This task can be daunting at first. Your department has operated this one way for years, after all. You’ve been running around just trying to keep up with technology, plugging the same solution into different channels.

The bad news is a fix will take some up-front expenditures. The good news far offsets the cost, though — implementing change intelligently will more than make up for any initial cost in short order. Efficiencies will take you from treading water to solid footing, provided you’re forward-looking. And while implementing change might feel daunting, technology is accelerating and your overhead will only grow — the time to act with speed and purpose is now.

The time to act with speed and purpose is now.

Controlling what you can control

Sponsored posts, server space, postal rates — these are some of the factors inflating working spend. But there’s nothing you can do about them. Deployment costs what it costs, and no amount of belt-tightening will change that. Over 60 percent of the marketers Percolate surveyed say their marketing spend will increase significantly in the next year. But the way you and your team work is where you can make a positive budgetary impact. Here are four practical, tangible ways you can lower non-working spend:

  • From a workflow standpoint, briefs are too often unclear, leading to more questions than a solid understanding of how to proceed. Ensuring everyone has a say from the outset — account services, strategy, creative, media, etc. — will get programs off to an efficient start. There’s a reason craftsmen measure twice and cut once.

The simplest rule of thumb is to empower people to do what they do best.

  • Those creating content sometimes don’t know where to go with their drafts, sketches or wireframes. They send out an email copying the entire team, only to have nobody respond because recipients imagine someone else will. And there the work sits in inboxes, moving further down the queue with each new message. Collaboration software offers a range of options for fixing this bottleneck. The creator can mark a task as complete, alerting the next link in the chain to act.
  • Training the team in new technology and ways of working is vital to success. But don’t stop at software — enhancing existing skills to make sure everyone is current with trends and hardware will empower them to create with confidence. It’s just good sense to set your team up for success with useful, relevant information.
  • Simplifying the process with fewer moving parts will make things easier to optimize. A RACI chart can help, but so will keeping only necessary personnel in the loop. This makes it easier to identify bottlenecks, and to move quickly rather than being bogged down waiting for someone to approve, likely a colleague who has content low on their list of priorities.

Keeping it Simple

If things sound difficult, the simplest rule of thumb is to empower people do what they do best. Make sure they can access what they need, how and when they need it. Then trust them to follow through. No need to charge a designer with uploading content, and don’t ask an account supervisor to play art director. Check in with the project manager on timing, then find out if there’s anything you can do to move things forward.

Percolate’s report tells us “no channel lives in isolation.” It’s more important than ever to create a consistent message, no matter where your audience encounters it. This means ridding your department of silos, making sure everyone is on the same page, working toward a common goal. It might be difficult to see where you can improve.

Simplifying the process with fewer moving parts will make things easier to optimize.

But it is critical you bring in someone to help clarify your situation. An expert who’s been through this before can certainly help. And above all remember, lower development cost means more money can go to telling more people your story, and doing so more quickly.

Tom Colaprico brought his three decades in publishing to Quad in 2015 to help customers lower operating costs, improve productivity and decrease time to market with revenue-generating and cost-saving ideas and strategies. Tom leads in Process Strategy, Implementation, Creative Operations (FM), Hub Operations, Continuous Improvement and Production Services groups, which are focused on providing a consistent customer experience from Client Discovery to Creative Operations (FM) implementation.

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