Even when most parts of a business (such as production or accounting) are already digitalized, marketing often remains more art than science. While the merits of creativity in marketing remain undoubted, efficiency plays a vital role in the complex orchestration of marketing tools and assets.

Marketing organizations must explore the processes and procedures enabled by digitalization. They must revisit and question every aspect of their operation to determine if there are ways to leverage technology. CMOs can gain efficiency by examining the technical resources and the skill sets available within the team. Are there sufficient digital-savvy team resources? Are all team members enabled to collaborate digitally — beyond Slack or Teams? Are they managing their projects online with transparency and insight into correlations with other colleagues? While that should be a given by now, most departments manage projects in an analog style, leading to siloed knowledge, bumpy collaboration and increased agency costs.

Optimize agency workflow with clear expectations and accountability

CMOs should bring the same level of analysis to their collaborations with agencies: Do each of your agencies know their exact role and responsibility in a project? Do they navigate the intersections with departments and other agencies to seamlessly execute on deliverables? A lack of clarity often leads to misunderstandings, specifically when delivering campaign assets. To maximize efficiency across channels, set specific expectations from the beginning, and communicate them directly with all parties.

Consider when to bring the media agency on, when to share the production plan, and how to align on timing. Decide when creative assets should go directly to the provider and when they should go to the media agency for upload. And taking this further, make a concrete plan for managing innovation projects. Identify who has the right technical expertise and who will evaluate new formats and technologies. Thoroughly map the process from initiation to completion and consider the intersections along the way.

These clarified processes, combined with embedded collaboration tools, provide a transparency that leads to significant savings in agency fees. The ability to track change requests, feedback and executed changes allows CMOs to identify issues in the workflow and correct them immediately. With these changes, I personally achieved 18% savings in my annual agency fees in a short space of time.

Standard asset templates, consistent cost savings

CMOs should also standardize the creation of marketing assets that typically are created for each campaign from scratch. Pre-configured templates, containers for landing pages, and dynamic creative optimization (DCO) banners allow for real-time updates. Marketers can launch a campaign or a promotion (or adjust a running campaign if the KPIs are not met) in a matter of hours versus days or weeks. The IT department will appreciate the reduced maintenance challenges of this streamlined approach to online assets.

As marketing technology evolves, it creates a demand for flexible teams with state-of-the-art diverse expertise. CMOs can overcome the challenge of filling skill gaps within teams by establishing systems that maximize the efficiency of agency resources. Our IBM analysis shows that on average, our clients achieve a 275% increase in project capacity, 50% increase in speed to completion of work, 98% reduction in approval time, over 15% savings in agency fees and 10% savings in campaigns. Digitalization allows these marketing departments to harness the kind of savings and freed-up resources already enjoyed by other departments.

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