Being part of an In-House Marketing Department has its share of advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, having immediate access to clients makes it easier to get critical feedback and move a project forward. On the other hand, being just down the hall can result in an avalanche of design requests and competing priorities that put the marketing team in a constant state of tactical triage. Another challenge: because you’re not sending an invoice for services, internal clients can go rogue with infinite rounds of edits because there’s no consequence in doing so. Striking the balance between “coming from a place of yes” and protecting the efficiencies (and sanity) of the marketing team can be tricky. But as with any relationship, there are proactive steps you can take to strengthen your partnership—and maximize your efficiencies along the way.
1. Define Your Relationship and Your Roles.
We often lament that we’re both front desk clerk at Kinkos and chief strategist at Kinkos. If you want to be perceived as the strategic partner, you need to “show up” as that strategic partner. Develop your own internal promotional piece outlining the full spectrum of your marketing services and then meet with each department to tell them everything you bring to the table and how you can help them meet their goals. Share your vision of that strategic partnership—what does it look like? Be specific in these conversations and spell it out: “Here’s how you can be a good partner to us, and here’s how we will be a good partner to you.” Holding annual strategy sessions with each internal client allows you to address the partnership and talk about big picture goals. Hosting periodic lunch-and-learn sessions about the latest marketing trends, and some recent marketing “wins,” helps to establish your role as experts.
2. Establish Rules (and Share the Rules!).
You teach people how to treat you. We know this to be true in our personal relationships, but the same is true at work. If you want your content coming in a certain way, create an SOP and train your client. If you only want to allow two rounds of edits, establish that as a rule and teach people the rule. Of course, there will be exceptions, but if 80% of the people follow the rule, you can manage around the other 20%. We often get frustrated that people aren’t doing things the way we want them to, but we also fail to teach people how we want it.
3. Provide the Tools to Be Successful.
Taking the step to minimize mistakes or frustrations before they get to your desk will pay you dividends in improved efficiencies. It’s easy to sit back and get annoyed at the client, but if creating a client tool ultimately makes life less frustrating and more efficient for the marketing team, it’s well worth the effort. We identified our top pain points and created a “handy-dandy desk guide” for everyone on staff. This included proper logos and brand colors, proofreader mark and the most critical editorial style rules (Do you know how many ways someone can submit a time? 7 am; 7 a.m.; 7 AM; 7:00 am; 7:00 A.M.…you get the idea!) Yes, we provide all these resources online, but taking the time to create a desk-top tool saves us hours over the course of a year.
4. Calibrate and Repeat.
It’s imperative that you nurture the relationship with your clients. As you find new ways to create efficiencies, communicate the new process. An annual strategy session is the perfect time to ask, “How can we work better together?” Make sure you hold these consistently—staff will change and processes will change, and it’s important that you make this touchpoint a priority.
At the end of the day, everyone is working toward the same goal—and people don’t want to be a burden to their colleagues. Taking these proactive steps will strengthen your partnership and maximize your efficiencies, which makes for a happier marketing team!
Dana Hamer serves as VP of Mentorship and Professional Development for AMA Baltimore. Learn more about Dana on our Meet the Board page.