Simple Steps for Building out a Marketing Approval Process
The marketing approval process can improve collaboration and velocity. Learn how to create a comprehensive approval process for your organization.
An efficient marketing approval plan is essential for communicating the right messaging to customers and establishing brand consistency across your channels.
Yet this is something that companies everywhere struggle with—especially now with remote work, where team members are distributed across different locations.
But with a bit of planning and coordination, you can create marketing approval processes that expedite workflows and keep team members in the loop about what’s going on with all your various marketing strategies. Read on for a breakdown of why marketing approval is necessary and how to create a comprehensive approval process for your organization.
The Benefits of a Marketing Approval Process
Organizations need to be thoughtful when creating marketing content. After all, producing content with incorrect messaging can confuse customers and push away investors. It can also harm the business’s reputation.
While marketing approvals may seem like a pain, the truth is they prevent teams from making hasty decisions. They can also expedite workflows by reducing rework and communicating expectations.
With all this in mind, here are some benefits of using approval processes to guide marketing projects.
Streamline Foundational Messaging
In most organizations, it’s typically necessary to include company leaders in the process of creating foundational marketing material. For example, this may include creating assets like messaging frameworks, pitch decks, and marketing personas.
Creating an approval process can help ensure that leaders are on board with your strategy—and that it aligns with their vision and goals. Leaders will also appreciate being able to sign off on projects and grant approvals instead of being blindsided later on.
Control Daily Messaging
It’s important to use a framework to review and approve daily content like blog posts, social media posts, and press releases. A robust approval process prevents incorrect messaging from going public, thereby protecting the company and reducing risk.
Train Team Members
Approvals provide opportunities for marketing leaders to deliver feedback and communicate changes with team members. The hope is that over time, team members can learn expectations and work more efficiently, with less intervention.
Eventually, teams should be able to produce marketing content with greater autonomy and confidence. This, in turn, leads to better marketing material and shorter review cycles.
Hold Team Members Accountable
At the end of the day, someone needs to take ownership of marketing material, such as an executive, director, or manager.
Marketing approvals also hold team members accountable for producing content that aligns with brand guidelines and company expectations. Asking individuals to own and endorse content workflows leads to stronger results and fewer errors.
Who Handles Marketing Approvals?
Marketing approvals should correlate with specific marketing workflows.
For example, content approvals may require input from marketing managers, clients, directors, and potentially subject matter experts. Larger initiatives—like foundational content or sophisticated white papers—may require additional approvals.
As a best practice, you should determine your brand’s marketing hierarchy before starting a project. It’s also a good idea to consult with company leaders to determine the level of participation they would like to have. Some leaders are comfortable handing off responsibility to marketing experts, while others prefer to have a direct hand in each step.
What Does a Standard Marketing Approval Process Look Like?
Marketing approval processes tend to vary from company to company. Some organizations have strict requirements for marketing approvals, while others tend to take a more hands-off approach. As such, it’s essential to factor in your company’s culture and management strategy when building marketing approval workflows.
With this in mind, here is a general template that you can use to create a standard marketing approval process.
1. Identify Stakeholders
The first step is to identify the critical stakeholders for each project. For example, this may include producers, managers, executive leaders, and so on.
To kick off the process, it’s a good idea to bring everyone together on a call, email, or Slack channel. Once you’ve gathered your stakeholders, introduce the project and explain the task at hand.
For example, let’s imagine the team needs to produce a white paper outlining a new product offering. Stakeholders might include a copywriter, a graphic designer, a product manager, a director of communications, and the Chief Marketing Officer.
2. Share a Creative Brief
Next, you should share a creative brief that outlines the project and deliverables. This document should clearly state the guidelines and scope of the project and communicate acceptable tools and procedures.
After sharing the creative brief, each stakeholder should know what’s expected of them to complete the white paper.
3. Create an Approval Structure
Before starting the project, the team should have a clear understanding of the approval hierarchy. For example, a producer may hand a project off to an SME (subject matter expert) before it goes to a manager or an executive for approval.
To continue our example, the copywriter might pass off the content to the director of communications, who will see whether the project fits in with the company’s messaging. After that, that individual will send the document over to the SME in this project, i.e., the product manager, who will make sure all the content is technically accurate. After signing off on the copy, the project would then get routed to the graphic designer for the design phase.
4. Execute and Collect Approvals
Once the project is ready to commence, your team should get to work. It’s a good idea to have a system in place that automates approval requests to prevent backlogs.
For example, Slack contains an automated approval system that sends notification requests. This is an easy way to centralize communication and ensure team members receive message notifications when they arise.
With the right tools in place, you can make sure everyone’s approvals are given in a timely manner.
5. Close the Project
It’s necessary to officially close each project at the end to signal completion to stakeholders. This lets everyone know that a project is over. It also prevents team members from having to reach out for updates manually after completion.
Once the white paper is ready to be published, it’s time to close out the project.
How to Define a Marketing Approval Process
Marketing approvals may seem simple. But when they lack structure, they can slow down workflows and frustrate team members.
For this reason, marketing teams should define approval processes and communicate them with team members. Taking the time to focus on the structure of each approval will ensure a speedy and efficient approval process with minimal delays.
With that in mind, here are some steps to define a marketing approval process.
1. Map and Outline Approvals
The first step is to map out when approvals are necessary for various projects. You may want to create a guide that team members can refer to so they know how to proceed.
To illustrate, you might create a map for producing an SEO blog where topic creation, keywords, outlines, copy, design, and marketing all require different stages of approval.
2. Communicate Guidelines
In addition to mapping out guidelines, you should also communicate those guidelines. Doing so can help to minimize rework and keep pipelines moving forward.
3. Choose Your Approval Method
It’s also important to select an approval method for each process and ask team members to follow it.
For example, consider whether a channel like email, Slack, or Teams is best for your specific needs. Sticking to a particular approval channel eliminates confusion and ensures optimal organization.
How Can Wrangle Help With Marketing Approvals?
If you’re thinking of using Slack for marketing approvals, that’s a great option. Slack offers messaging, multimedia sharing, and project automation functions, all of which are necessary for providing feedback and gaining approvals.
But Slack has one big drawback: It’s difficult to manage requests on the platform. There’s no way to track status updates, and you have to assign individuals to babysit channels and manage incoming requests.
Wrangle is a purpose-built workflow automation app that assigns approvals and tasks like content approvals, collateral requests, campaign reviews, and much more. In fact, Wrangle can automate nearly any business process. Our tool makes Slack infinitely easier to use for marketing approvals, leading to fewer missed messages and faster completion times.
This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling.
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