Organising a marketing department

Here’s the shocking truth we’d better keep within the marketing department: most marketing is common sense to anyone vaguely commercially-minded. What makes the difference between good marketers and the rest is the ability to deliver a plan. That requires efficiency and organisation. This guide is here to help.

Contents

  1. Assets.
  2. Key processes.
  3. Marketing Procedures document.
  4. Team development.
  5. Tools.
  6. Starting a new job.

Unlike our other guidance, this page doesn’t tell you about marketing strategy or lead generation techniques. This guide helps you setup your marketing department to succeed, even if that department is only you.

Having run several marketing departments and marketing functions, we’ve learnt a lot over the years. This guide is extensive. Don’t be disheartened by its length. You can skip any of the sections you already have in place.

If you already use different systems and processes, great. We’re not saying this is the only way to successfully organise your marketing department. We just want to help make sure there is a system because any system is better than none.

Use this guide as your checklist. Skip over any topics that are already in place or irrelevant to your business.

 

Assets

There are certain assets you need to put in place to improve the efficiency of any marketing department.

Financial Reports

Let’s start with the asset that seems to have little to do with marketing: financial reporting.

Marketing is a support function. If you want it to be respected in a business, you need it to support the business’ commercial goals. To do that, you need to understand its financial performance.

You need four financial reports:

  1. Customers ranked by revenue and profit will not only tell you who your most important customer are, it’ll also show you what sort of businesses or industries contribute most to your bottom line.
  2. The proportion of revenue and profit that comes from your top 5, 10 and 25 customers will tell you how much you rely on your top customers. It’s dangerous when too much profit comes from too few customers.
  3. Products/services ranked by revenue and profit will show you your most profitable activities. It’s especially important to view both revenue and profit; different products/services can have very different profit margins.
  4. The trends over the last three years for the three reports above will tell you if our position is changing.

Marketing Budget

Marketers don’t have the greatest reputation for financial control. That’s both unnecessary and unfair. Forbes Baxter Associates has produced an Excel-based marketing budget template which you can download from this page. It’ll satisfy any CFO (especially as it’s free).

Marketing Budget Template

The marketing budget template:

  • Records budget figures before the start of the year and actual spending figures throughout the year.
  • It divides your overall budget into seven individual budgets common to most marketing departments: advertising, events, agencies, printing and production, technology, data and brand (you can rename them).
  • It’s massively automated. Your monthly tasks are limited to entering seven numbers: the actual spend for each of the seven individual budgets.
  • It uses colours to highlight the size of over and underspends.
  • Charts show budget and actual spending for each month plus the year-to-date budget position.
  • Pie charts show how the budget and actual spending is broken down between the seven individual budgets.
The marketing budget template shows actual v planned spending and an annual projection.

The marketing budget template shows actual v planned spending and an annual projection.

The marketing budget template shows where your marketing department spends its money.

The marketing budget template shows where your marketing department spends its money.

Media

You need to respond quickly when a campaign or event calls for new collateral. You need to pre-prepare standard media that you can deploy instantly. In most organisations, this means you need photos of:

  • Key people such as board members, department heads and spokespeople (also see Biographies on page 21).
  • Your office with prominent branding (if possible) so you can give people an idea of ‘where’ as well as ‘who’.
  • Your products/services so people get a better understanding of what you do. This is a challenge for service and professional industries where there’s no tangible product. In this instance, the best route is often to produce media that demonstrates the end result e.g. estate agents and conveyancing lawyers might show houses.
  • Customers so you can promote your successes. If you’re going to use a quotation from a customer, it’s more powerful if we have a photo of the speaker too.
  • Heroes showing people in the course of their everyday work, building the product or delivering the service you want to promote.
With a bit of creativity, office photos can promote both size and branding.

With a bit of creativity, office photos can promote both size and branding.

We’ve concentrated on photos to this point because they’ve been the go-to media format for the past 50 years. 21st century marketers need to expand their horizons beyond the 6×4” photo. There are other formats you should consider.

  • If you do produce photos, you’ll need them in various sizes and formats for your preferred media platforms (your website, LinkedIn, FaceBook, etc.)
  • Video is more engaging than a still photo. Even if it’s just a two second video panning across your building, it draws attention better than a static image. For complex products like Leatherman’s multi-tools, video brings product capabilities to life. Video doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t even need a dedicated video camera if you have a high-quality smartphone and good lighting. You’re aiming for a professional commercial standard, not the BBC’s broadcast quality. Refer to the “Still & Video Photography” section later on this page.
  • Animations may do a better job of describing a product or service than a photo, especially when you’re trying to describe a technical feature. Ryobi’s example extols the virtues of their brushless motor system. The disadvantage of animations is that you either need extensive creative skills or a hefty budget.
  • Screen recordings are a better way to show off software or web-based products. Even after editing, a recording retains powerful authenticity, reassuring viewers that this is what they’ll actually see and experience. Zoho One combines animation and screen recordings to show off its accounts systems. Unlike animations, screen recordings don’t need expensive recording or editing software.
  • Illustrations are more informative than still photos and less expensive than animations. Most of us will still need an agency to develop them though.
Animations are always effective but rarely cheap.

Animations are always effective but rarely cheap.

Logos

If you want your brand to be better known, you’ve got to make its most visible element – your logo – readily available. To make sure it always looks professional, you need to provide it in every format a business partner might want:

  • Vector and bitmap. Vector formats, like PDF and EPS, can be scaled to any size without a loss of quality. Bitmap images, like JPG and TIF, are accepted by more applications but can only be scaled as far as their size and resolution will allow. With logos sometimes appearing on wall coverings at exhibitions, you need both types.
  • Monochrome and colour. You can’t predict the publications, web sites or videos your logo will appear in. If your partners need a monochrome image, you need to have one ready even though you know your logo looks so much better in colour. A monochrome logo is better than no logo at all.
  • Portrait and landscape. If a logo doesn’t fit the space a partner has for it, their tendency is to scale and distort the logo. You don’t want this to happen. If you give them the logo in portrait and landscape formats, it’s far more likely that one version will fit the available space.
  • Normal and reverse. Most logos assume a white or light background. If it’s going to be placed on a black or dark background, a reverse version (where all the parts of the logo are white) is visible, if not as colourful.
  • White background and no background. If your partners want your logo to blend in with their artwork, they won’t want a white background to get in the way. You need to give them a PNG version with no background so they can add it to anything.

You can download our logo pack to get an idea of the variations your customers might need.

The marketing department should provide logos in different formats to help partners maintain consistency.

The marketing department should provide logos in different formats to help partners maintain consistency.

Brand guidelines

If you provide your logo to business partners, you should also include a brand guidelines document to advise them on how the logos should be used.

Be realistic about brand guidelines. Don’t be too proscriptive. When we worked with one of the world’s biggest petrochemical companies, the project was great but dealing with their brand police added weeks of delays to everything we did.

In that scenario, we didn’t have any choice but to comply. The customer was big and important. SMEs don’t carry the same clout. We can’t be too insistent about how our partners use our brand or logos.

Your brand guidelines should:

  • Help partners understand which type of logo works best where. Use illustrations – you’re talking about a visual element of marketing, after all.
  • Ask partners not to change the aspect ratio of logos.
  • Ask partners not to chop parts of the logo off.

The second element of your brand guidelines should describe your colours in four ways:

  • If your partners are working with general applications like Microsoft Office, they’ll use RGB.
  • If they’re using Adobe applications, they’ll prefer CMYK or Pantone.
  • If they’re developing web pages or emails, they’ll want Hex colours.

If you don’t give them all the colour formats, they’ll do their own estimates which is time-consuming for them and a guarantee of inconsistency for you.

The best place to find references for your colours is Pantone’s Colour Finder. This great tool lets you select one of their standard colours, then tells you the equivalent reference in all four formats.

You can download Forbes Baxter Associates’ brand guidelines from this page and use these as a template for your own.

Brand guidelines help partners match your visual style.

Brand guidelines help partners match your visual style.

Templates

We’ve known for decades that there’s nothing more frustrating than doing the same thing over and over again. That’s why so many of our applications support templates. If you make use of them you save everybody a heap of time and ensure that documents go out looking professional and consistent, no matter who produces them.

Marketing departments often concentrate on templates for the tools they use: brochures in InDesign, diagrams in Illustrator, etc. We’re less diligent at templates for Office applications like Word and PowerPoint.

This is madness.

Our companies produce ten times more documents in Word and PowerPoint than InDesign. These are the frontline apps that need the best templates, especially as the skills of the people using them is variable.

If you want documents to look good, you need to give your company good templates.

Word templates

Every business need at least two Word templates:

  1. A normal template for everyday documents. This would go beyond Word’s own normal template by adding your logo in the first-page header and your icon on subsequent page headers. Every page would have page numbers in the footer.
  2. A letterhead template needs your logo, company name and address in the first page header. The first page footer would contain your company registration number, registered address, VAT number, web address, main email address and phone number. As well as being a letterhead, this document contains the information partners need to start trading with you (you just have to add your bank account details). Subsequent pages would have your icon in the header and page numbers in the footer.
  3. A quotation template is optional but highly recommended. This is a big topic that is covered in “Your Little Black Book On Quotations & Proposals”.

You can download our normal and letterhead templates from this page. They’re a useful starting point for developing your own. Once you’ve completed them, your templates need to be stored in Word’s default personal templates location.

PowerPoint templates

PowerPoint’s flaky reputation comes more from the fleshware using it rather than the software itself. Our job as marketers is to produce templates that are both attractive and fool-proof.

A good PowerPoint template includes the following layouts in its slide master:

  • A title page with your logo, the current date and an image placeholder for your audience’s logo.
  • A section heading slide so you can break up your presentation into digestible chunks.
  • An agenda page so your audience gets an early indication of what will be covered.
  • A text-only slide for those occasions when users want to enter a lot of text with no pictures. It happens.
  • A ‘thank you and questions’ slide to end the presentation.
  • A selection of text-only slides with a background image to add a little interest to the page. We use pound coins, a clock, a world map, cogs and similar images for financial, time-based, international and process slides respectively.
  • A selection of picture slides with image placeholders sized to match the aspect ratios of both smartphone (4×3) and DSLR (3×2) pictures. These take time. We recommend i) one slide layout with two small, landscape picture placeholders, ii) another with one large portrait placeholder and iii) a third with one large landscape placeholder. By creating placeholders with sizes that match photos, your users don’t have to resize images and you know that photos won’t be cropped badly or distorted.
  • A ‘purpose of the day’ slide to explain what you hope your audience will get from the presentation.
  • A house-keeping slide with fire drills, requests to switch off mobile phones and WIFI details.
The marketing department is responsible for the templates that make presentations faster and more professional.

The marketing department is responsible for the templates that make presentations faster and more professional.

The main template (i.e. not the slide master) should also include hidden instruction slides that tell your users how to use layouts, create bullets properly, navigate between slides, etc. Illustrations should show how each slide layout is intended to be used.

You can download Forbes Baxter Associates’ presentation template from our website to see all of these functions in action. It’ll be a useful start-point for your own version.

Collateral templates

Templates work as well for us marketers as they do for other staff. Create templates for the brochures, datasheets, handbooks, competitive comparisons, etc. that you use.

This isn’t as onerous a task as it might seem. Once you’ve created your first example of a new collateral series, you only have to save it as a template, remove the specific text and images and you’re done.

Templates work best when standard elements are stored within them. You need to setup text styles and standard colours. Only then, for example, can you be sure that headings in today’s brochure match headings in a brochure you created a year ago.

It’s also worth creating an annotated version of a template that shows the dimensions and exact positioning of standard elements like headings, text boxes and photos.

Anyone with the budget for Adobe Creative Cloud will also want to setup standard features in CC Libraries. This makes them sharable between Adobe applications.

Annotated templates help us maintain consistent size and positioning.

Annotated templates help us maintain consistent size and positioning.

Email templates

Although Exchange makes it hard, you do need to setup email templates so your company details and branding are included in the signature of any emails sent.

The same applies to the templates in your email marketing systems. These may be more complex because you usually want your marketing emails to look sophisticated. Having said that, the click-through rate of plain text emails often eclipses sophisticated HTML email layouts because they look like they come from real people.

You can improve the efficiency of your company by creating templates for common activities such as requesting purchase orders and logistics support. These processes are often hampered by people sending incomplete information. You can create and distribute an email template that asks for all the required information in a consistent format and sends it to the correct person.

Other templates

Depending on the type of business, you might also need to create:

  • A press release template with standard areas for relevant dates, title, leads, body text, company info, photos, captions and contact details. You can download the Forbes Baxter Associates press release template from our website.
  • An award entry template with boiler-plate text about the company, its history and main virtues.
A press release template makes PR a realistic option.

A press release template makes PR a realistic option.

Company Description

Staff in all departments are asked to describe the company on countless occasions. Whether you’re approaching a new customer, creating an account with a new supplier or entering a competition, you need to describe your company.

It’s marketing’s job to create and distribute that description. To suit as many scenarios as possible, you need a 50-word, 250-word and unlimited version of the description.

Biographies

In the Media section of this guide, we described the need for photos of key people. You need biographies of the same people. The partners who need the photos often need it. Even if they don’t ask for it, sending it’s seen as helpful. Giving more than you were asked for looks professional.

Password vault

“Can you email me our logon details for xyz, please?” How often do we hear that? Create a central location for access details to common sites.

Depending on the sensitivity of the sites, you can store this as a password-protected network spreadsheet or use a secure location in SharePoint, OneDrive or similar.

Press contacts database (optional)

Once automated, PR can be an immensely cost-effective way to promote your business and boost brand awareness.

Building a PR category in your CRM database lets you record:

  • Publication, website or trade association name.
  • Contact name, phone number and email address.
  • Areas of your business that the publication covers.

You can also record the times you’ve been featured by the publication. CRM is so much better than old-fashioned press clippings!

Common commercial formulae

Not really marketing at all, but if you want to endear yourselves to the rest of the business, distribute this spreadsheet. It helps people work out profit margins, discounts, mark-ups, pricing, VAT and a series of other common calculations.

Download it from this page.

Our common formulae spreadsheet is just plain useful. To everyone. Earn your marketing department a gold star.

Our common formulae spreadsheet is just plain useful. To everyone. Earn your marketing department a gold star.

 

Key processes

A lot of work is repetitive. If you fail to set standard processes, it will be done inconsistently and slowly.

Reporting

People above and below you in your company want to know what marketing is doing. You need to setup a reporting system that tells them what they need to know without becoming a burden on you. You need to define:

  • Who receives which reports.
  • What reports are generated.
  • When the reports are published.
  • How the reports are published.

You also need a level of unpublished reporting, data that helps you understand your performance but which is more detailed than non-marketers want to know.

Your goal must be to produce portable reports that can be displayed on everything from a boardroom mega-screen to a smartphone.

Organisations at the larger end of the SME scale will have deployed Microsoft’s PowerBI. This is a great tool for collating and reporting data in a consistent way but it usually needs IT support and it’s not a standard (free) part of Office.

Other SMEs are better off using tools such as Google Data Studio. As a Google product, it naturally pulls data from Google Analytics, Search Console, Ads, Sheets and YouTube. It can access hundreds of other apps too but the 3rd party interfaces may not be free.

The downside of Google Data Studio is that it can be a challenge to learn. The payback is that you gain expertise in an immensely flexible business intelligence tool. If you can’t devote the time to developing Google Data Studio reports, well, that’s why agencies like Forbes Baxter Associates exist.

After these two online reporting tools, the fallback position is Microsoft Office: generating spreadsheets and charts in Excel and publishing them via PowerPoint. It’s tried and tested but cumbersome when compared to Google Data Studio.

Key metrics that should be covered in your reporting include:

  1. MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) delivered against target i.e. people who have expressed a sustained interest in our products/services.
  2. ROI (Return On Investment) of key campaigns. Some businesses prefer an ROI on specific activities such as Google Ads.
  3. Unique visitors and page views on the website against target.
  4. Ranking of critical keywords against target.

Approval process

To avoid arguments later, you need a robust approval process for the materials you produce or update. Dedicated approval process tools are only cost-effective for agencies. Internal departments can manage with an email-based process:

  • Limit the approver list to senior managers responsible for that area of the business. The more people you invite into the approval process, the slower it gets and the more contradictory responses you receive. If the senior managers want other opinions, make it their responsibility to get them.
  • Put a reasonable deadline on responses e.g. 7 days. Marketing is responsible for delivering results; you have to maintain your momentum.
  • Encourage responders to use the annotation tools in Adobe’s Acrobat Reader. It’s easier to understand comments when you see them in context.

Publication process

“I didn’t know we had that” is one of the most frustrating comments a marketer can hear. You need to make sure people know about the materials you produce or update.

Your publication procedure should include:

  • Publish the collateral to the company’s shared location (public network drive, SharePoint, etc.)
  • Publish the collateral on the website.
  • Publish the collateral to partners (if relevant) via a shared location such as SharePoint, OneDrive or Dropbox.
  • Publish the collateral to sales teams through a sales enablement tool such as iPresent (if relevant).
  • Remove earlier versions from each location.
  • Email relevant parties about the new collateral with links to its location.
  • Review new and updated collateral at monthly sales meetings.

Sales enablement tools like iPresent save a lot of time because they automatically archive old versions, contact users to tell them about updates and organise collateral into logical collections. It’s not free but it is great value.

Train company spokespeople (optional)

If you want to use PR to improve your profile, you need spokespeople ready and able to talk to media contacts.

You can either send them on media training courses (which tend to be expensive) or follow online best practice guidance combined with plenty of internal practice. Google “rules for dealing with the media”.
Record practice sessions and play them back. Only then will you understand how your spokespeople look and sound to an audience.

Your spokespeople should be the only people authorised to speak to media contacts, on or off the record. Only by limiting the number of official spokespeople can you project one version of the truth.

Media training improves the way the company appears in the media.

Media training improves the way the company appears in the media.

 

Marketing procedures document

Our marketing procedures document is one of the business’ most critical assets. It defines how everything is done in the marketing department.

Marketing Procedures started life as a series of flowcharts in Word. It soon became obvious that flowcharts may look impressive but they don’t hold enough text and they’re far too difficult to update.
It evolved into a numbered list in Word. By using headings and a contents page, it’s quick and easy to find the correct way to do any marketing activity.

It’s also a godsend when auditors come round for ISO 9001 assessments. They love it.

“Marketing Procedures” is any marketing department’s bible.

“Marketing Procedures” is any marketing department’s bible.

Build a Marketing Procedures document over time. Add items to it as they occur. Your own Marketing Procedures document will include:

Procedures from earlier in this guide

Generating financial reports, managing the marketing budget spreadsheet, monthly reporting, the approval process and the publication process.

File Naming Conventions

Inconsistent file naming can be nearly as damaging to your brand as inconsistent logos. When you impose consistency, you create an impression of professionalism and efficiency.

If documents are destined for the outside world:

  • Start the filename with your company name. This guide’s PDF, for example, starts “forbes baxter”.
  • Remove any abbreviations the world wouldn’t understand. We use “little black book on” in the filename even though we refer to them as LBBOs internally.
  • Remove production information from file names. Nobody wants to see “Final” or “Print”.
  • Always rename the photos you take. If you need to find a particular photo, two thousand files called “DSC something” or “IMG something” won’t make it easy. A tool called Bulk Rename Utility makes this process quick and easy.
    • When you download images from a stock source like iStock or even Creative Commons, add a description to it for the same reason.
    • When you create different versions of a photo for different purposes, add the size and resolution to the filename e.g. an image for LinkedIn would be “flower 1200x628x72.jpg”.
  • Adopt the ISO date format in filenames: yyyy-mm-dd. This sorts different versions of the same file chronologically in file listings.

File locations & folder conventions

We have a near-infinite capacity for storing information in network and online repositories. Finding it is another matter entirely. Even the indexing facilities in SharePoint, OneDrive et al may struggle unless you setup a logical folder structure.

Some components will be common to all businesses:

  • Media, with sub-folders for Photo, Video, Audio and Logos. Animations could be merged with Video or kept separate. Illustrations could be merged with Photo or kept separate. Some organisations will also need Screenshots. Each folder should contains sub-folders for With Rights and Without Rights to prevent us using unlicensed images in published work. The logos folder needs sub-folders for your logos and 3rd party logos.
  • Literature.
  • Presentations.
  • Manuals.
  • Customers
  • Suppliers.
  • Each folder should have an Archive sub-folder for items you no longer use. Development folders like Literature and Presentations should have a Not For Publication sub-folder for work-in-progress and source files.
Data is effectively lost without a logical directory structure.

Data is effectively lost without a logical directory structure.

Website updates

Your websites are one of your most collaborative venues. If you want to keep it organised and effective, you have to setup standard processes for its maintenance.

When you create pages for new products, standardise:

  • Title (H1) formats. A page’s H1 title is not only important for search rankings, it appears in site menus too. It looks bad if one product is called “iPhone 11 case: Mallory” but a related product is called “Celeste case for iPhone 11”. Keep keywords at the start of the title and standardise what punctuation is used.
  • URLs are equally important. Adopt a standard format such as “category-name-version”.
  • Make sure everybody in the team knows how to perform on-page optimisation and set a baseline score for every page that needs optimisation. Most CMSs (Content Management Systems such as WordPress) support free optimisation tools that score pages.
  • Image sizes and justification.
  • Tag categories to aid organisation and reporting.
  • Indexing in Google and the site’s own Search function.
  • Creation of complex elements such as 3D images. For example, what angle and elevation should they be viewed from?

The same rigour should be applied to every other change you make to your site:

  • Blog pages.
  • Ecommerce products,
  • Downloads & gated content.
  • Forms.

If you don’t standardise and formalise the process, you invite inconsistency and ensure that updates take longer than they should.

Standard website structures are easier to follow and maintain.

Standard website structures are easier to follow and maintain.

Purchasing processes

Record what you buy from whom:

  • Companies and contacts.
  • Logon details and account numbers.
  • Products or services supplied.
  • Details to ensure ordering consistency. For example, when ordering printed collateral, record paper weights, paper types, lamination and delivery speed.

Useful websites

Marketing is dominated by technology. You need to record the useful online tools that are available to you and what you use them for. Access will be controlled by the details in your Password Vault (see above).

A centralised and secured password repository boosts efficiency for the entire marketing department.

A centralised and secured password repository boosts efficiency for the entire marketing department.

Tips & techniques for critical systems & processes

Skills are never evenly distributed throughout a marketing department. You need the least capable people in your department to learn from the most skilled if you’re going to develop the team and improve the department’s performance.

Some marketing technologies are either intrinsically complex (PowerBI) or they just make tasks unnecessarily awkward (LinkedIn advertising).

To help the rest of your team, you need to record how you complete common tasks in these tools. A few examples of the activities we’ve written guidance for include:

  • Creating Google and LinkedIn Ads.
  • Adding hyperlinks into InDesign documents.
  • Removing photo backgrounds in Photoshop and GIMP.
  • Setting up Gravity Forms.
  • Mandatory fields, common processes and cleansing routines within Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
  • Creating renders with 3D composition software.

Every company will have different applications and need different guidance notes.

Expanding your guidance to more generalised skills helps your performance too. It can, for example, be useful to create a section on photography that covers:

  • lighting.
  • cleaning the equipment being photographed.
  • branding.
  • highlights to be singled out.
  • backdrops.
  • tripod use.
  • angles of photography.
  • uniform (for people).
  • use of microphones for video.
  • sizes and resolutions of final output for different destinations.
  • etc.

Event, exhibitions & webinars processes

Events and exhibitions are so expensive in budget and manpower it’s a criminal waste if they’re badly organised. Create a template in your project and task management system (or a spreadsheet) to handle:

  • Basic event details: event name, location, dates, stand, contacts, staffing.
  • Accommodation: hotel, rooms, dates, references, contacts.
  • Logistics: contacts, dates, documentation, items.
  • Stand: design contacts, dates, furniture, items to take, equipment, messaging, presentations.
  • Costs: direct and indirect, ROI.
  • Tasks list.
  • Associated events such as an awards dinner during a conference: details, contacts, invitees, responses.

Give everybody associated with the event access to a planning summary so they can get the information they need without pestering you.

The same planning template can be used for webinars even though many sections will be unused.

The cost of exhibitions demand careful and detailed planning.

The cost of exhibitions demand careful and detailed planning.

Other common processes

Depending on the business and the tools available, you may also want to create standard processes for:

  • Sending out customer satisfaction surveys. If your marketing automation or email marketing system is linked to your invoicing, this can be automated.
  • New customer welcome packs. An email welcome pack can be a great way to start a relationship off well. It’s the first step towards building strong lifetime value.
  • New starter processes to make sure people are added to the correct distribution lists and have access to the appropriate resources when they start. IT only handles the basics in most organisations.
  • New leaver processes to revoke that access and remove people from distribution lists..
  • The correct way to do mundane processes such as credit card and budget reconciliation should be recorded so they can be delegated easily from one staff member to another.

 

Team development

Marketing evolves tremendously quickly. A Best Practice programme keeps the marketing department current, develops the skills of individual members and builds team spirit.

The format is simple: meet for 30 minutes, twice a week. For the first 20 minutes, each team member searches for tips, tools or news from their sources. Each team member works on different sources.

For the last 10 minutes, the team discusses what has been found. 10 minutes is usually enough because you don’t always find anything worth discussing. Other times you’ll read about best practice that you already follow. That’s reassuring.

Any worthwhile topic should be recorded in a Best Practice network folder. You either download a PDF or print a webpage into PDF format. This folder develops into a priceless knowledgebase over time.

If there’s a way to implement a new technique or adopt a tool, it’s added to the department’s project plan.

A Best Practice programme helps with topics a diverse as SEO, design principles or proof-reading.

Best Practice sessions improve team performance and individual skills.

Best Practice sessions improve team performance and individual skills.

 

Tools

Skipping the obvious saying about poor workmen, you do need the right tools if your marketing department is going to become the well-oiled machine you want it to be.

Here are some tools and utilities that help us run our department. Dedicated marketing tools like marketing automation and CRM are covered on other pages.

Project, Team & Task Management

Every marketing department needs a tool that:

  • Shows the manager what all of his/her team is doing.
  • Reports each project’s status to the manager, Board or client.
  • Tells team members what they should be working on today.

It’s tempting to say that you’re OK as long as you have something to organise yourself but, having been through a company with the worst management systems imaginable, we know that’s not true. You really can have management systems that disrupt more than they assist.

Here at FBA, we’re big fans of Monday. It looks beautiful, it has features that are missing in other tools (like tasks that are dependent on other tasks) and it’s well priced. We’ve also used Zoho Projects, Basecamp, Trello, Teams and Planner. They all have pros and cons.

If you want to be efficient, put a system in place now.

Online meetings and webinars (optional)

Even before coronavirus changed our working habits, webinars were a great way to keep in touch with customers and generate new leads. As your marketing department matures, you’ll need to be able to provide this facility.

GoToWebinar was the biggest name in the field because it has all the recording and management features you need. But it comes at a price: almost £70 per month.

Zoom became the biggest name in online conferencing during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a great system but, once again, not cheap once you add the webinar function: over £35 per month.

Which brings us to a very different alternative: Zoho Meeting. Most businesses that have come across Zoho met it through CRM, email marketing or marketing automation.

But Zoho’s all-in-one package, Zoho One, includes 40 applications for £30 per month – and that includes its online meeting and webinar software. It’s well worth considering.

Other applications (optional)

Beyond those basics, you may also need applications for:

  • Quick note-taking. Evernote has always been brilliant. The most important features are free. You may prefer Microsoft OneNote – it’s usually free too.
  • If you need to explain or think through a process, you need a better flowcharting tool than PowerPoint. Lucidchart is that tool. The basic version is free, the advanced version starts at £8 per user per month.

 

Still & video photography (optional)

Cameras

We’ve nearly reached the day when smartphones take good enough still photos and video for SMEs.

If you provide good lighting and a stabilising tripod, high-end smartphones can replace DSLR cameras and camcorders.

If you do decide to invest in separate cameras, there’s one feature that acts as a good baseline for the kind of equipment you need: an external microphone socket.

Cameras with one will have the other features you need. And, most importantly, they will be able to record audio from lapel microphones at the same time as they record the video.

Lighting

Lighting makes the difference between an impressive result and an amateurish nightmare. Battery-powered LED light panels are portable and cheap. Neewer are just one of the companies that offer one, two or three-unit lighting packs consisting of dimmable lights, stands, remote controls, smartphone control applications, bags and batteries.

Microphones

A film’s audio quality is as important as the video. Wireless lapel microphones improve sound quality, reduce background noise and let you put the ‘subject’ a substantial distance from the camera. They can even move around.

Boya are one of several companies that offer competitively-priced lapel microphone sets.

Autocue teleprompter

When your video subject has to deliver dialogue, you can lose days while they try to get it right. Tripod-mounted autocues are the answer. They’re a bit fiddly to setup but they’re cheap and effective.

TeleprompterPad is one of many similar systems.

Recording & Editing software

Once you’ve recorded your video footage – or the audio from a podcast – you need to edit it. You’re not aiming for the BBC’s broadcast quality but you need to remove mistakes and curses.

Those of us lucky enough to have the budget for Adobe’s Creative Cloud are set for life. It has everything you need but it costs £60 per user per month. That racks up over time.

If you’re working to a tighter budget, AVS’s suite of applications is a great alternative. £55 per user per year is within reach of all businesses.

 

Starting a new job

The preceding pages will help any Marketing Manager or Director at any stage in their tenure. But if you’re new, there are a couple of extra steps that’ll help you succeed.

What does the Board think Marketing does?

If the Board thinks Marketing’s role is to provide databases and brochures to the sales teams and you think it’s about long-term inbound campaigns, you’re on a dangerous course. We’ve been there. It’s excruciating.

You need to adjust the Board’s thinking, get their permission to pursue the long-term plan that’ll deliver the results they want and set their expectations about when that will happen. That’s a tall order.

We failed.

You need somebody on your team who can feed the sales teams the materials they’re used to while you’re developing the improved campaigns that will replace them.

What are your KPIs?

You need to understand your targets and their feasibility. Both you and the Board will want SMART targets. The “R” is SMART means “Realistic”.

If you don’t have the budget, the team or the tools to meet or measure the targets, they’re not SMART. Make it your priority to understand your SMART KPIs.

Tactical, operational or strategic?

Most companies operate like ducks: serene on the surface with frantic activity beneath it. If your new employer is like that, you need to separate your tasks so that you can demonstrate completion of some goals and progress towards others.

  • Tactical activities can and should be completed fast. Examples would include providing support for exhibitions and materials for blitz days (yes, they still happen). Even if these activities are unlikely to generate results, supporting them keeps marketing working with the sales teams.
  • Operational activities create the framework through which future work will be delivered. Examples include deploying a CRM system or introducing a new collateral approval process. These don’t deliver any KPIs but you need support and approval to do them or long-term targets will be missed.
  • Strategic activities produce your marketing department’s long-term successes. Examples would include the lead generation campaigns we describe in Your Little Black Book On Lead Generation. You need your Board to understand the timescale you’re working to and, if resources allow it, your department needs to provide tactical support while you work on the strategic activities.