One of the most valuable things you can do as a marketer is to lead the department through a weekly marketing call. If done well, this call can rally the team together, identify potential issues before they explode, and build a deeper relationship with one another. This in turn can transform your marketing department from scattered fire fighters to calm, successful, and effective marketers.
The first process you need to inspect in your marketing department is:
Is the Marketing Department Doing Too Many Things?
I can’t think of any organization I’ve consulted with as a fractional CMO where the marketing department was doing too few campaigns. Instead, every organization seems to be committed to completing a year’s worth of marketing campaigns “as soon as possible.” This may be due to the executives in the organization pushing new ideas downstream to the marketing department and the well-meaning marketers accepting these directives, or it could be a Marketing Director or VP Marketing who doesn’t understand the complexity and time required to execute these campaigns successfully.
Whatever the reason, we can all agree: It’s impossible to do every single marketing campaign at the same time, with a limited budget and team capacity.
The best way I’ve found to support the executives and create realistic timelines for completing work is to run a 2-week sprint. This means that there is a process every 2 weeks for the marketing team to identify which tasks they’re committed to completing, in support of the quarterly outcomes. The marketing team then blocks time in their calendars each sprint to work on these specific tasks.
This is of critical importance. I have no confidence in a marketer who will just “get it done” without first seeing their calendar. I ask them to show me what day and time they’re working on a particular campaign. This forced clarity encourages self awareness and ensures the team member understands the complexity of the tasks they’re taking on.
Once a 2-week sprint is started, the best practice is to not let any new tasks get inserted into the sprint. Any new tasks can be added to the following sprint, or to the backlog (a list of tasks in varying degrees of importance).
If a team member completes their sprint tasks before the end of the sprint, they can move onto the next sprint’s tasks, or the backlog.
The next critical component of a functional marketing department is a good scorecard
You Need a KPI Scorecard
Simply put, a scorecard shows the vital signs of the marketing department and how marketing relates to sales. The scorecard should show performance indicators such as:
Marketing spend by channel
Marketing results by channel (CPC, CPL, CPS/CPA, ROAS)
Email metrics (sends, open rates, CTR, sales)
If it’s appropriate in your organization, add in other supporting metrics, such joint venture outcomes, SEO keyword position changes, etc.
The goal here is to have a document that is updated weekly that shows “just the facts.” An effective scorecard can be viewed by non-marketers, like your CEO or COO, and they can fully understand the health of the business.
If you’ve never built a scorecard before, create one in a shared spreadsheet like Google Sheets. In Column A, list all your metrics. In Column B, identify your Quarterly Goal for each metric. In Column C, compute your weekly average. Then in Columns D and onward, you report data each week.
What is a Perfect Marketing Meeting?
The premise of a marketing meeting should be to remind all attendees to the quarterly outcomes that have been agreed to, share the relevant KPIs to show that work is being done, and discuss any conflicts or questions.
Generally, a meeting should not exist to exchange information. Email is a better place for exchanging basic information.
The reason is that calls with the entire team are EXPENSIVE. Take into account everyone’s hourly rate, a 1-hour meeting can easily cost over $1,000. So minimize this by having a tight, clear, and direct meeting that minimizes the exchanging of information.
Marketing meetings should have conflict in them.
Conflict is a good thing here… a meeting is a great place for the team to discuss differing opinions on a marketing campaign, or a strategy, or a piece of content. Let everyone get together and facilitate a discussion that drives the needed clarity to move forward.
Therefore, your weekly marketing call agenda should look like this:
Quick catch-up (5 minutes)
During the first 5 minutes of the call, the point is to have everyone “land” and settle in. Catch up with one another. Ask about each other’s family, or what they’re watching on Netflix. These personal questions build deeper connections within the team.
Outcomes (5 minutes)
Review the current KPIs via the scorecard. Show trends over the last week. Share any reason why numbers have moved. Did the team launch a new promotion? Did they stop a promotion?
Objectives (10 minutes)
Lead a discussion from a high level of the quarterly outcomes that were previously agreed to during your quarterly planning session. There should be 3-7 major quarterly outcomes, which are measurable. This will remind everyone of the most important outcomes that have been previously defined, so that new ideas that feel more exciting don’t get the focus. You must build discipline in the team so they can achieve the quarterly outcomes without changing course mid-quarter to something new.
Open Discussion / Conflict (30-40 minutes)
During this time, identify discussion points that the team wants to dive into. Then prioritize these by impact or importance, and unpack them. Let the stakeholders share their positions and facilitate a discussion that moves towards a result. The best outcome as the facilitator is to identify:
What is the task or initiative or outcome?
Who owns it?
When is it due by?
What is the first action they need to take?
It is of great importance to start the marketing call on-time and to drive the call to completion on-time. Honor the team’s time (and the company’s payroll) by limiting the call to 60 or 90 minutes in length. If the call can end early, let everyone go early.
If you follow these simple, yet important steps, your weekly marketing call will become a place to connect with the team, remind one another of the quarterly outcomes, support one another in their tasks and resolve any conflict. You’ll be disciplined to focus on the KPIs and the team will begin to find this call a welcomed part of their work week.
The difference between an effective, functional marketing department and a dysfunctional department are how priorities are established, how they’re tasked, how completion is encouraged, and how results are shared.
No matter your marketing role, if the organization you’re a part of lacks a weekly marketing meeting, I encourage you to be the change maker. Create your agenda based on the aforementioned and propose it to your manager. If you’re the CMO or VP Marketing, schedule the first marketing meeting for next week.
If you want to grow in your career, take on this leadership task. You’ll quickly be seen as the innovator who focused the company and ensured more work happened in less time.