By Nicholas Kerzman
Financial services and insurance marketers often voice their frustration over additional time spent managing complex compliance and legal processes when they could be channeling their experience and talents into creative marketing strategies and their execution. It only makes sense – if you are hindered by manual processes and repetitive activities that add little value while monopolizing your mental bandwidth, your team’s creativity and ingenuity will inevitably be stifled. Not only that, such cumbersome legacy technologies also negatively impact the customer experience.
How then do you give your team the tools they need to succeed? Here are some main areas to focus on as you clear the way for your team to concentrate on what they do best.
Your Workflow Should, Well, Work
Oftentimes ingenuity can be passed over in a rush to meet the next ‘process gate.’ If a process, and the underlying workflow solutions beneath the process, are inadequate or inefficient, then this can lead to longer cycle times between the stages of a process.
As an example, a major national bank saw the need to transform its marketing operations to increase speed to market for its campaigns and more easily adapt to changing customer needs and preferences. This organization piloted an agile transformation with success, which then expanded to a multi-year journey to fully transform into an agile marketing operation.
Outcomes and benefits for the marketing team included greater satisfaction and excitement in their roles, having greater decision-making power in their own hands, and the ability to ‘test and learn’ as part of an iterative campaign execution approach. They benefitted from having ongoing continuous campaign improvement be part and parcel of their marketing operations.
It is in your best interest to smooth out your teams’ workflow processes and figure out where your snags are. Which brings us to…
Be the Voice of the Internal Customer
Sometimes you must focus on your ‘internal customer’ to the benefit of your paying customer. Marketers’ own internal ‘customer journey and experience’ are ripe for transformation and optimization – most organizations primarily invest in the external customer journey and experience, but they can take those same transformation skills and abilities and apply them internally as well.
As a marketer one way you can approach opportunities for change is to identify places of pain. Pain being activities or tasks that take longer than they should, that feel repetitive and do not add value, or internal communication and coordination that feels broken or disconnected. All these areas present opportunities for marketers to lead their teams towards change and support a creative and collaborative environment.
Cut Out The Unnecessary
Here is a practical example from a major national bank that applied this philosophy to implement agile ways of working. The cross-functional campaign execution team maintained a two-week cadence when conducting reviews or demos of their work. Traditionally, team member time was spent assembling screen shots, summaries and other content into a presentation artifact, reducing their capacity to deliver incremental work product.
The lead marketing manager in this team questioned whether this provided value to the stakeholders and the team. In the spirit of agility and incremental change, the team piloted a show-and-tell approach absent of the traditional presentation. This approach required limited additional preparation by the team, and ultimately generated greater satisfaction among the stakeholders participating in the reviews. The former presentation approach was subsequently ditched.
Inefficiencies are commonly found in two places: process and operational technologies. Areas that we commonly see as opportunities for transformation are traditional handoff points such as creative/agency and marketing, marketing and compliance, legal and regulatory reviews, and of course marketing and technology/product teams. Regardless of the scope of the transformation efforts that an organization is considering, conducting a targeted pilot with a willing group of change supporters is an important step when ensuring a foundation of success from which to build.
Often incremental changes, such as including various stakeholder groups earlier and often in the process, reduce the start-and-stop stages that are common to legacy ways of working. Implementing process changes presents an opportunity to put more of the decision-making, brainstorming, testing and learning into the hands of marketers and teams charged with executing the work at hand. Alleviating process pain points opens the way to enhance creative output and collaboration.
A second area often ripe for optimization and enhanced efficiencies is operational technology. Platforms tasked with asset management, workflow/marketing resource management, advertising and compliance review, disclosure management and others are the backbone of mid-to-large marketing organizations and as such are both fundamental and critical to orchestrating marketing operations efficiently and effectively.
Siloed platforms often create delays due to the need to manually transfer information and data or assets across different solutions, introducing inaccuracies and increasing risk. Marketers can get bogged down in pushing data and artifacts through and across such platforms and can become overly preoccupied with adhering to manual risk controls. Conducting a cycle time analysis across various stage gates of the workflow can help identify priority opportunities for integration, workflow automation and improving the supporting technology solutions.
The traditional roles of marketers – conducting research, developing and executing strategic marketing plans, understanding and engaging customers – are critical and fundamental to the success of all marketing organizations. Equally important are that breed of marketers who are passionate about process improvement, data and analytics, enabling technologies, and operational excellence. These marketers form the backbone of a refined and tuned marketing organization that can respond and react quickly to evolving marketplaces. The opportunity for marketers to be ‘creative’ is today a far more expansive proposition – one that stretches across many different skillsets and disciplines, providing ample opportunity for individuals to make a genuine impact.
If you are considering a transformation of this nature in your marketing organization, Capco Studio brings a wealth of experience and operational know-how —from implementing agile processes to rethinking your tech stack— our financial services and insurance marketing-specific expertise will help make your organization more successful, more quickly.