What is every B2B marketer’s favorite word?
Okay, I’m kidding. For people who live and work in a creative field like B2B marketing, process has a little bit of a reputation. A reputation for stifling the creative process with extra steps, procedures, and — depending on who you ask — hoops to jump through.
While it’s certainly true that too much process becomes a hindrance, it’s also true that not enough process becomes chaos. We need processes to onboard new staff, establish marketing innovations, create more efficient projects, and more.
With such a critical — and controversial — role in B2B marketing, it makes sense that marketers have a lot of questions when it comes to processes and the projects they aid. You may even be one of those marketers. To help you get the answers you seek, here are the most frequently asked questions B2B marketers have about process and projects.
Question #1: Do we really need another process?
Easily the most asked question of the bunch.
Striking the right number of processes is a real balancing act. Too many and it feels as if there is no freedom. Not enough and there’s no order keeping everything together. To get just the right mix of order and freedom, B2B marketers need to be asking this question.
So, what’s the right answer? It depends. Do a gut check on your current processes. Are they helping the work or are they preventing the work? If you and your fellow marketers feel like they’re getting in the way, you should look at reinventing an existing process instead of adding another one to the mix. Too often, the impulse is to make a new process. Instead, we should put our marketing hats on and optimize the processes we have.
Question #2: Where can I find my processes?
It’s tough to find the right process. For example, here at TopRank Marketing, we have hundreds of documented processes but only a handful of them apply to our influencer marketing team. So, how are they supposed to find the processes they need without having to sort through the rest of them?
It’s natural for marketers — and everyone, really — to wonder where the processes that pertain just to them are located. For us, that meant creating a process database with segments for each team. This helps us keep our processes organized, clear, and concise. With the central hub, any team member can come, search for the action they need to perform, and find the process they need to follow. The easier we can make it to find the right process, the more likely they are to be followed.
Question #3: Are we following the process?
Speaking of following processes, a process becomes useless unless it is followed. So it makes sense that marketers are wondering how well process is being followed. However, it’s a little hard to measure and track.
Whether it’s due to falling back on old habits, or forgetting a few steps, following a process to a T is tough to do. It’s much more likely that only 50 – 90% of the steps of a process are followed. And then there are the times that we ignore the process altogether.
To ensure process is being followed, there are a few things every process needs:
- First, every process needs to document the steps and who is responsible for each one.
- Second, each process should have a scenario for when the process gets triggered.
- Lastly, processes need to hold someone accountable for ensuring it gets followed.
These three things ensure marketers know when they need to do a process, who needs to do what, and indicates a process owner in case the process falls off.
Question #4: How far along in the project are we?
Process and project management go hand in hand. Each marketing campaign we’re behind has a method to the madness and project management helps us keep it all organized and tracked.
But oftentimes projects just become a massive list of tasks to complete, making it even harder to know what stage in a campaign you’re at.
We’ve found that using milestones helps us keep track of our progress. Our campaign milestones are typically:
- Discovery – At this milestone in the process, we meet with the client and get a sense for their needs, objectives, pain points, and more.
- Strategy – Here, we formulate a strategy and marketing mix that will best help us achieve our goals.
- Execution – As the name suggests, the execution milestone is the part in the project/process where we complete the work.
- Optimization – Our last milestone is where we monitor our campaign results weekly and compile recommendations to optimize our performance.
With tasks that roll up into each of these milestones, we’re quickly able to see what’s been completed and what hasn’t, without having to check on each individual task. Using milestones also enables us to see which pieces of our campaign process are the most and least efficient, helping us optimize our processes and projects in the future.
Question #5: How are we executing projects against scope?
The way our projects and processes are built help set our campaigns up for success, avoiding scope creep, maintaining profitability, and bolstering our bottom line. As B2B marketers, this speaks to us on a personal level. And it begs the question: how are we executing against scope?
To get an accurate picture of our own execution and performance, we compare our scoped, planned, and actual project hours. This helps us reveal how much time is spent at each step of the process and how over or under scope that time was. With this data and insight, we can then alter our scopes to better match our processes and how long they take.
Trust the Process. Trust the Project.
While we don’t love it all of the time, process is a necessary part of any business, including B2B marketing. And to make sure our processes are working for us, not against us, we need to make sure we have the answers to the questions above. We need to know if more process is needed or less. We need to know where our processes and projects are. And we need to know how well we’re following them.
For more tips on how to juggle process and project management for B2B marketers, read this guide.