Workflow of the Week: Operating Sales and Marketing in Tandem

Emily Bogin |

Automating Marketing Requests for Inner and Outer Transparency

Marketing teams understand that “heroic efforts” more often than not means bending over backwards for requests that flew in under the radar or last minute and then downright hustling to get it under the deadline or budget or specifications. Marketing operations leads are heroes, but sometimes, it would be nice if office work did not demand extraordinary measures. In a recent Forbes article, marketing leaders are urged to take stock of their tech stacks so that they can approach the unexpected with confidence.

What gets doubled besides the number of desks per employee?

For starters, when employees bring work home, data access points increase, leading to new and more expansive risks. In addition, as workplaces proliferate, employees need more access to materials, both in the cloud and “IRL,” whether it is access to a particular software or the tools they need in order to record videos for marketing or training purposes.

So it’s no surprise that as we head into 2022 that hybrid working environments are pushing IT leaders to think creatively about the way things work. Harvard Business Review notes that “more than 90% of employers are planning to adopt a hybrid working model for their knowledge workers in 2022” but also explains that this trend is likely to winddown, as some companies are finding it difficult to handle the doubling processes we’ve outlined above.

But it’s not just marketing that needs to organize their tech stacks so that they can function like a well oiled machine. Marketing departments act as nodes of articulation, hub points where internal sales collateral requests, partner collateral requests and more get sent, triaged, shuffled, rerouted, and completed. Even a perfectly organized marketing team, where all technology is interconnected, transparent, and well-utilized can suffer from the problem of outer transparency.

Inner transparency – where members of a team understand how to work together and leverage their technologies effectively – needs to become self-conscious in order to achieve outer transparency.

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Diagnose your pain point

How can you tell that your outer transparency leaves something to be improved? When marketing is drowning in too many requests coming in from email, and these requests would be better routed differently or answered through self-service portal, it’s time to think about another way. When your external stakeholders betray frustrations with the urgency of their requests and an inability to escalate, it’s time to recognize a real challenge.  And when the wrong messaging or branding is going on collateral because the approval chains are falling apart, it’s time to rethink not just process, but also technology.

If you build it, they might not come – so what’s next?

Outer transparency is not just about making request forms available to outsiders, but rather, it is about making marketing request forms built into the user experience of people outside of Marketing. The Sales team does not want to leave Salesforce, much less learn a new technology or visit a new site; if partners have to try too hard to make contact, they are going to escalate until you’re exhausted or move on in their big book of vendors. This is no “if you built it, they will come” situation. This is a: build it, but make it look like theirs, and put it on their site, and give some automatic self-service options so that the value-added is clear.

Low hanging fruit that delivers for everyone

Finding a low code solution that integrates with Salesforce, for example, or can take on the branding of your Partner Portal, or even can be embedded on your Sharepoint site is crucial. Another thing to watch for? Making sure that when you build a form, the right people can access it, even if they are not connected through SSO (think: partners). 

Building from inner transparency to outer transparency should be easy, even if it does involve a shift in thinking. It also does not need to happen in a developmental model: you can work on inner and outer transparencies simultaneously, and, in all likelihood, you should.

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