5 ways for CMOs to optimize their brand and marketing operations

5 ways for CMOs to optimize their brand and marketing operations

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Monday, August 10, 2020 | BrandActive

The 10-Minute Roadmap is a podcast series dedicated to providing insights from BrandActive and our work with Fortune 1000 clients and large healthcare systems on how to best manage brand operations and rebrand projects during uncertain times.

This episode, “5 ways for CMOs to optimize their brand and marketing operations” explains how you can make your brand and marketing operations more efficient – providing a catalyst for productive, sustainable change. By taking the opportunity to turn your attention inward, your organization can reduce time to market, lower overall costs, improve quality, and boost brand understanding.

In this episode of BrandActive’s “Ten-Minute Roadmap” podcast series, you’ll learn:

  • Blind spots in the customer journey and how to address them through your brand and marketing operations
  • The surprisingly manual nature of the internal processes and marketing technology used in brand and marketing operations, and how optimization boosts both the productivity of your staff and brand impact
  • The importance of organizational culture to internal brand understanding and the CMO’s role in setting effective organization-wide use of your brand

Listen to the talk below now.

Transcript:

Nicole:

Hello. My name is Nicole Kemp and I’m a Senior Manager at BrandActive. I would like to begin by thanking you for taking the time to listen to this podcast today, I will be discussing five things CMOs don’t know about their brand and marketing operations.

Nicole:

During this market downturn, marketing and brand professionals are having to learn how to do more with less. It can be a painful lesson and that it can morph into doing less with less, but it doesn’t have to go that way. Today I’ll focus on how cleaning up your brand and marketing operations to be more efficient can be the catalyst for productive change and can help free up money for other key initiatives. Let me back up a step before I tackle that.

Nicole:

I’ve learned over my career, that marketing is never cookie cutter. It is both art and science. And marketers tend to spend more time on the art and that orientation may contribute to a lower degree of emphasis on building repeatable, sustainable and engineered processes. And I don’t mean to say that marketers aren’t organized or systematic. They often run rigorous A/B tests to optimize campaigns. They constantly measure and constantly optimize. However, marketers don’t often take the time to do a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of marketing processes or question foundational operational assumptions.

Nicole:

My work involves just that; working with organizations to dig into the details in a quest to find ways to improve quality and reduce time to market and overall costs. It’s a key step to making these repeatable and sustainable improvements in brand and marketing operations. And let me tell you, the process makes for some thought provoking conversations with chief marketing officers and other senior marketers who are charged with enabling growth, increasing customer loyalty and growing brand value in trying to accomplish these key objectives cost efficiently.

Nicole:

I want to take the rest of our 10 minutes or so together to share with you five key insights we have learned at BrandActive. Some of these surprised me at first and may also come as a surprise to you.

Nicole:

First, most CMOs don’t have a full view of what the customer’s experience is actually like. It’s not about creating the ideal customer journey map. Just about everyone has created one of those. The reality is most marketing organizations operate in silos. The customer experience is shaped by the actions of everyone from the social team, the strategy team, the digital team, the events team, the media relations team, and so on. It can be hard for the CMO to truly grasp the holistic customer experience delivered by all these team members over time, and that gap breeds inconsistency in how the brand is applied in market. It can seem like an overwhelming problem to address, but the key is to get started by really understanding how all of these teams operate together and build that holistic customer view and optimize from there.

Nicole:

I’ll share an example with you. A brand operations opportunity analysis that we did for one healthcare system uncovered disconnects and inconsistencies that made the patient experience confusing. Understanding that led the marketing team to look across several customer touch points, where they found a high variety of inconsistent asset types and areas like patient forms, marketing collateral, and ID badges. So they started by first simplifying and rationalizing their patient forms, cutting the volume in half. And a similar exercise allowed them to trim marketing collateral for more than 5,000 to less than 3,000 pieces. Then they moved from several employee ID badge types to a single format across all facilities for all employees. Taking baby steps like these really add up to better brand impact and patient experience, in addition to ongoing cost savings and time efficiencies gained by managing less.

Nicole:

Second, my colleagues and I often remark on how eye opening it is for CMOs to understand exactly how much time and money is being spent on agencies and partnerships and outside vendors. They often don’t know who’s doing what and what exactly they are paying each agency for. That said, marketing departments have a lot to do these days across many channels and regions, so they often use multiple agencies and vendors to help them hit their objectives, which seems smart, but that strategy can break down under some scenarios and lead to a number of undesirable outcomes.

Nicole:

For example, organizations may find themselves paying many agencies that are doing similar work and the process the organization uses to brief agencies may inconsistent. The external impact of these actions is that many different creative interpretations of the brand show up in market and costs, of course, are higher than they really need to be.

Nicole:

There are several reasons that this situation can arise. One example is the nature of the organizational structure. A decentralized structure has two potential downsides. It can breed duplication of efforts and dilute accountability. While it’s true many organizations are highly decentralized by design, that doesn’t mean you can’t figure out how to apply centralized management processes to agency and vendor management.

Nicole:

One of our pharma company clients recently took an analytical approach to how it selects and manages vendors in just one category of branded assets, which was their signage. They saved 50% of their allocated budget while improving brand consistency by doing this exercise.

Nicole:

The third and fourth issues are also related to waste, but from a different source. When marketing leaders see how much internal marketing teams still rely on manual processes to do basic things like create collateral, obtain approvals, they are amazed. It seems to fly in the face of logic. Most have invested a lot of money to build their marketing technology stack over the past decade but as it turns out, most of the attention and resources have been directed to technology that improves externally related processes. Think; paid customer acquisition and CRM. So often the CMO is surprised to learn how much their marketing teams are still doing on the fly without standardized internal processes and technology to maximize efficiency.

Nicole:

It’s also a shock when CMOs find many brand functions are still managed via emails and spreadsheets without the benefit of a modern brand management system. These days brand management systems do far more than provide a single source of truth for all things brand. They also optimize workflows that speed time to market, free up staff time and drive brand consistency.

Nicole:

That leads me to a question for you. Are you a B-to-B or a B-to-C marketer? I ask because, while the issues of manual processes and less than optimal use of technology for internal marketing purposes might be less startling to find in B-to-B companies, they’re indeed more prevalent there. I’ve found many consumer packaged goods companies often fail to optimize their brand management systems, which are again, essential building blocks for effective brand and marketing operations.

Nicole:

I need to offer a word of caution here. If your organization doesn’t have clear brand operations infrastructure and processes defined, it’s best to assess that first before moving to technology as a cure-all. Providing new technology to an already disorganized team is not going to solve your problem. Before you can see the true benefits of a great technology tool, you need your brand operations to make sense from a structure, people and process point of view.

Nicole:

Finally, it’s not possible to overstate how important it is for brand to be a key element of organizational culture, which brings me to the fifth and final surprise. CMOs are so steeped in the brand they sometimes don’t realize the rest of the organization truly does not get it. Everyone who is involved in delivering the customer experience from IT, manufacturing, to HR and distribution need to feel the truth of the brand in their bones and be able to express it in their functional area. Instilling this cultural mindset is a friendly sort of battle to inspire understanding and adoption, and it needs to be a top priority. Culture eats strategy for lunch, as they say, and the responsibility for ensuring the broader organization knows the brand and appreciates its importance typically ultimately sits with the CMO.

Nicole:

So what does all this mean? To me it’s about investing a bit of time now in order to reap rewards later. Taking the time to scrutinize brand and marketing operations will yield surprises yes, but also uncover opportunities for improvement and efficiencies. Once your assessment is done, you can establish priorities and set an action plan that suits your pace. The results are repeatable, sustainable improvements in brand and marketing operations that deliver savings year over year, not to mention giving you a consistent and agile customer experience that reflects your brand strategy and organizational objectives.

Nicole:

That’s a wrap. Thanks so much for spending time with me today and letting me talk about my favorite topic. I hope you enjoy this episode of our 10-Minute Roadmap podcast series. If you would like to know more about brand and marketing operations, visit brandactive.com/BMO. The BMO is short for brand and marketing operations. Again, that’s brandactive.com/BMO. Thank you.