We’re a software company … but we’re much more than that … we’re a marketing company. Our customers ask us all the time how we do it. Our team does amazing stuff — from our website, webinars, live events, prospect and customer collateral, defining our brand, managing our follow-up sequences and working in harmony with sales and the rest of the business. They do fantastic work and I’ll share several tactics on how we function to deliver on so many projects.
Here are some questions I hear frequently:
How do you map out marketing sequences?
How do you know the best way to set up your marketing & sales funnel?
What tools do you use for tracking, testing, mapping sequences, etc?
What does your marketing fulfillment process look like?
And the questions go on, and on and on …
It’s time for me to share. We’ve developed some very cool processes and methods for efficiency, creativity, and effectiveness and it’s high-time I share them with the world.
So, today’s post will be the first of a “How We Do It” series. Today’s topic is Project Planning. If you’ve ever planned a marketing project, you’ll know that it can get a little hairy. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with ideas and stall. Below is our project planning process. Don’t get it confused with project management. That will be the next post.
I adopted some aspects of Scrum-Agile philosophy from our development team, added our own twists and creativity for a marketing team, and out popped our “E2 Process.” E2 stands for efficiency and effectiveness. I’ve noticed in the past we’ve driven hard on efficiency and lost effectiveness. At the same time, focusing on effectiveness can slow down efficiency. The E2 Process helps us stay focused on both. The motto of the process is, “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” It’s a phrase used to teach snipers and other military personnel how to focus and get the job done despite distractions and imminent death.
Infusionsoft Marketing Team’s E2 Process:
All marketing requests needs to be made through the Director of Marketing. No request may be made directly to any member of the creative team.
Project Evaluation & Prioritization (PrEP Meeting)
The Director of Marketing, the Project Manager, and the requester will meet within 24 hours of the request to evaluate and prioritize the project. Marketing may reject the project, suggest it be outsourced, suggest the requester’s department execute and Marketing reviews or accepts it. If accepted, the project will be prioritized against the backlog and an estimated delivery date will be given. This is called a PrEP Meeting (estimated time: 10-15 minutes). During the meeting three questions are asked and answered:
- Why this? How does this fit with our strategy? How does this move the needle?
- Why now? Is this a current priority?
- What else? Is there something that this replaces, or could this project be part of another effort that marketing is already working on?
Marketing will randomly choose one person from another department to help on this project. A project is also created in our project management tool. A description of the project is added and all involved people are notified and invited to the F3 Creative Meeting.
F3 Creative Meeting
Fill the Funnel & Filter
The requester and all marketing people that will be involved in the project must be at this meeting. The purpose is to fill the “funnel” with big ideas and then filter to what’s best. This is called an F3 Creative Meeting. The critical components of this meeting are: Define The Goals, Define The Audience, IdeaStorm, and Survival Of The Fittest. On average, it will require 30-60 minutes depending on the scope of project.
Define The Goals
The goals of the project must be clear before moving forward. The goals and the audience are immovable guideposts for the project. The audience and the goals are added as a message to the project management tool. Everyone involved is notified.
Define The Audience
The requester and the marketing team will define the target audience for the project. They will choose from predefined personas of prospects or customers. If the audience is outside of our predefined personas, the discussion needs to be elevated to the VP of Marketing.
This section starts with a review of previous IdeaStorms to capture good ideas that weren’t chosen. Then the meeting moves to a review of comparative products, campaigns from other companies, lots of zigs, how can we zag? These are generated from looking at the audience and the goals. The next piece is the storm. No bad ideas. Fill the funnel. Be creative. Don’t let budget or dead brain cells restrict thinking. Go big or go home. All ideas are captured on a whiteboard and notes are added to the project in our project management tool.
Survival Of The Fittest
During this section we beat up the ideas until the best one wins. Reality helps us narrow the choices, but strong minds should figure out ways to achieve the “impossible”. A detailed description of the project is written and added as a message to the project. A date is set for the Trashing Meeting and everyone involved is notified and invited.
“Thrash early, thrash hard, thrash right” is the motto of this meeting. The purpose is to set the project plan in stone so that the team can work as efficiently as possible. All options and details must be explored so we can eliminate rework and addition of stuff of to the project after the fact. The project requester, project manager, all creative and technical personnel on the project are required for this part. This meeting will determine the timeline and the firm deadline for the project. All responsible parties will commit to the deadline before the end of the meeting. After the trashing meeting the project manager will enter all necessary tasks into the project management tool. Copy, design and web areas will be explored separately to ensure we’re being creative and pushing the envelope in each area. On average, this can vary between 1-3 hours to complete.
During project execution there will be a required daily huddle with the project manager, the requester, and the members of the marketing team involved. The project manager leads the meeting and no one speaks unless called upon by the project manager. The meeting is ten minutes long, no matter what. If issues arise they are taken offline by the people involved. Progress is tracked daily in the project management tool.
Before launching the final project all stakeholders meet for a final review. Often, this should be a 10-15 minute meeting to confirm that we’re good to launch. There should be no surprises and no additional requests. Those things should have come out in the thrashing meeting and occasionally in the daily huddles. Its important at this point to review the goals and audience of the project to ensure that everything is still in line. Project owner has final say. VP of Marketing has veto rights.
Put on your party hats and push the ship button!
After launching, the entire team gets together for a 15 minute discussion of what we learned, how can we do it better next time, results (if available). Notes are added to the project and everyone is copied. The project is “archived”. A blog post may be written on our blog to showcase the campaign/project.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that we don’t follow this process perfectly yet. But we’re getting there and I see great improvements because of it. I know this could appear overwhelming, machine-like and even a little micro-managed. It isn’t. It’s efficient and effective.
I’m going to venture that not everyone has a rockstar team like I do. So, I invite you to extract the most helpful pieces in this and apply it to how you operate your marketing projects. Let me know what’s helpful or any questions you have about it.
[Image credit: Will Scullin]