Marketing efficiency is key to success in any business, especially at the enterprise level. Ask virtually any marketing leader if they want to increase efficiency in their organization, and they’ll agree. Of course they will – who wouldn’t want to get more from the resources they have, keep down marketing costs, and avoid waste?

Like many things, however, making a real impact on your organization’s marketing efficiency is easier said than done. A lot of solutions involve replacing systems or dramatically reworking workflows and staff roles (or all of the above!). The problem is, you can’t simply stop everything and rework all your tools, processes, and roles. Maybe those things need to be done, but they’re long-term projects that involve a lot of planning and internal negotiation, plus significant rollout time. They don’t help you now.

So, what are some things you can do to help improve your marketing efficiency today?

1) Get Proactive on Objectives

Nothing is more inefficient than work which is planned, created, reviewed, finalized, approved….and then never actually used. And the statistics tell us that never-used work is a big problem in content marketing.

Why is this? Sometimes the problem is just that Sales isn’t enabled, and so doesn’t know how to use the content that’s made. Often, though, the problem goes further back in the production process, all the way back to the beginning: a lack of alignment and awareness around just what kind of content should be made in the first place.

It’s vital to have your customer personas developed, and their buying journeys mapped – and it’s just as vital to make sure that information gets out to everyone on the team. Fight content waste by getting really proactive on communicating what the strategy is, what’s needed to make it happen, and what the goals are for the team’s content. When people know these things, they can create better-quality content, with less time needed for revisions.

2) Make the Rules Explicit (and Follow Through)

We’ve talked about this in the context of creativity in marketing, but it’s also applicable to larger marketing processes. Explicit rules help get everything done right the first time, because there’s no ambiguity about what needs to happen. There are two parts to making this work: making sure everyone knows what the rules are, and making sure everyone follows them.The first part is as easy as regular team communications. The second can be a little more challenging.

When you’re in a hurry, it’s easy to sidestep process – and it might even seem like the more efficient choice. But this is actually counterproductive to the overall efficiency of your team. If there’s no clear process for doing things, or if the rules say one thing but in practice it’s another, you’re setting your team up for wasted time and effort.  Objectives might take longer to reach because nobody knows for sure what they need to do, or mistakes might slip through because the process to catch them was circumvented.

Whether it’s around what to include in content or how to get approvals, you can get your team moving faster with fewer do-overs by making sure everyone knows the right process, and that they have to follow it. Beware of “urgent” issues skipping process; it tends to end with everything being “urgent.”

3) Move Up Your QA

So you’ve improved communication around objectives, and you’re ensuring everyone knows (and is following) process. The third thing you can do to improve efficiency right away is to make a small change to the process itself.

In many marketing organizations, the QA step is the final one: after the content team has created a piece, it goes through review to ensure it’s on-brand, on-strategy, and on-message. This isn’t the most efficient way to work, however. If there are any issues with the content that require substantial revisions, your content team must take additional time and resources to correct them – time and resources that are then not being used to create more content.

The solution? Take a cue from manufacturing, and move the QA up before your bottleneck. Before your team starts work on a piece, make sure the objectives for it are clear, and that the planned content will meet them. If you can catch any mistakes or misalignment before the bulk of the work is done, your team can make course corrections much more quickly and easily than if they had already invested substantial time and effort into creating the wrong thing. 

If you want to make substantial improvements to your organization’s marketing efficiency, you may well want to implement a new technology to help, or go through a larger organizational exercise – but those things can’t happen overnight. In the meantime, try these three quick wins to get your team running a little more smoothly, with what you have to work with today.