The Ultimate Guide to Retail Marketing Success, PART II: Visibility
The following blog post is PART II of a five part series on how to become a retail marketing superhero. We’ve leveraged the collective experiences from our most successful clients, some of the top retailers in the world, to help you the retail marketer achieve ultimate success in your career and for the business. This series will cover everything the retail marketing leader needs to become a superhero in today’s omni-channel world. Download the complete ebook here!
Executing long-term marketing strategies, especially across multiple channels, requires the handiwork of some of the best marketing planners – especially at the 250+ store level. Being able to predict resource requirements, meet merchandising’s needs, and align campaigns across channels can indeed become a retail marketer’s full time job.
In fact, as a marketing leader one of your key responsibilities is to ensure marketing program visibility. This means you have a comprehensive view of campaign plans, schedules, assets, progress, and results. Aside from the obvious impact visibility has on long term strategic vision for the organization, visibility also helps you ensure alignment among marketing teams, reporting to stakeholders, and managing marketing performance over time. Oftentimes, keeping executive leadership in the loop is a daily requirement.
However, it is difficult to gain complete marketing visibility when there is no shared system to capture, track and report on all the elements associated with your campaigns. And, even when such a system exists, you must ensure that visibility drives action.
Consider the array of challenges you face in the absence of a truly shared and unified system. You are likely to have an array of marketing teams operating in silos and managing their own program calendars. As a result, you have no easy way to view program activities across your organization. And, you have no way of ensuring teams assigned to different marketing channels are operating in unison to effectively execute your campaign strategy.
Here are some of the other consequences you might experience:
- Excessive administrivia
Marketing ops is often responsible for merging calendars, documents, reports, and performance dashboards. That means a lot of manual and unnecessary administrative work when there is no unified system in place. Copying and pasting was not part of the job description, and it is not a skill that will help you attain your career goals. Work tirelessly to establish workflows to avoid it, and walk away the hero whose helped balloon the company’s bottom line, not their shared drive.
- Meetings, meetings and more meetings
Whether the requirement is agenda setting, status updates or some other purpose, you will be pressured to schedule meetings to achieve consensus and coordinate action. You will also find yourself making many phone calls and sending many emails. If you haven’t already, you will become the “meeting person” everyone wants to avoid. Meetings are boring, and highly successful companies avoid them like the plague unless they are completely necessary.
- High risk reporting
You are challenged to quickly pull together disparate sources of data to give reports to key stakeholders. If you must hastily assemble information from multiple teams, the potential for errors and inaccuracies is extremely high. The 2000’s have given birth to an age of accountability never before seen by marketing. If you are not responsible for revenue or accountable for marketing ROI yet, your days are numbered.
Collectively, such factors represent a massive waste of time and resources. You also risk under-performance – whether it’s tied to supporting of your executive team or in managing campaigns. Finally, you are continuously drawn away from focusing on marketing efforts that create value and differentiation – actions that make your role strategic to the organization.
As the experience of top performing retailers suggests, there is a set of proven practices that can enhance visibility and, therefore, marketing performance. Such actions can enable you to perform in a more strategic and valued way within your organization.
The following outline a short list of the best practices as we have witnessed by the world’s top retailers to achieve visibility. Take these steps today, and elevate your visibility:
- Develop a central marketing calendar and make it accessible to all
The greatest common denominator we see that differentiates the very successful retailers from the not-so-successful ones is a centralized, accessible marketing calendar. We mentioned this in Part I of this series, and cannot reiterate it enough. With a unified marketing calendar that is available to all your marketing teams, you can ensure the most relevant and recent information about campaigns is all in one place. You can link all key resources to the calendar and ensure it is constantly updated and always accessible. This creates “one version of the truth,” while enabling you to ensure all marketing teams are coordinated and performing at their best. Technology has improved dramatically in this area, so there are no excuses for continuing to work out of Excel or any other dinosaur legacy software.
- Encourage and enable active usage by operational teams
Your marketing calendar is not useful unless it’s actively used and updated. You have to educate your channel marketers and other members of your campaign team. They have to know the importance of updating the calendar and ensuring assets/collateral are current. The value of this practice may not be immediately obvious to them. With this in mind, you may be required to provide incentives to encourage participation and compliance.Rallying your team behind the goal of omni-channel visibility and continuity makes you the coach, the leader. Removing the pressure and uncertainty from the shoulders of the team to allow them to focus on being excellent marketers will make you look like a hero. No marketer ever said “I want to NOT know what the long-term vision is for each campaign.”
- Advise executive decision-makers on value of visibility
Lastly, you’ll want to clarify the importance of real-time access to your marketing calendar and related dashboards to your executive team. You want to impress upon them the ability to accelerate decision cycles and enhance their decisions. By seeing all of the critical moving parts. Of course, they also need to understand the value of alignment, which becomes particularly critical and challenging as markets demand ever more localization in message, format, and offer.Be a champion for making marketing responsible for ROI while supporting executive leadership in the creation of high-level marketing strategy. The business will respect your commitment and welcome the opportunity to drive sustainable, repeatable results with open arms. Visibility is the key.
These are among the steps you can take to bring new levels of performance to your marketing organization. They elevate you while ensuring you are positioned to deliver optimal outcomes.
That said, some approaches and solutions are more advanced than others when addressing the visibility problem.
Take the case of one apparel retailer on the East Coast. It took the marketing team two days to do a review on current programs due to lack of visibility. The marketing ops leader would hold review meetings at the beginning and ending of week that were 90 minutes each. Meanwhile, the team relied on a complex Excel spreadsheet – dubbed the “mother ship” – for visibility and coordination purposes.
With support from CrossCap, the marketing ops leader at this retailer introduced an automated and centralized marketing program calendar – available to all team members all the time.
Today, meetings are just 30 minutes each – enabling the team to spend more time focused on operational objectives. The solution also has dramatically reduced the volume of emails and calls in regard to coordination. Now, this marketing ops leader spends more time focused on marketing strategy, program enhancements, and campaign optimization. By adopting an advanced solution to the problem of visibility, he visibly increased marketing performance.
In summary, while continuity drives omni-channel marketing performance through tactical initiatives, visibility drives organizational buy-in and supports long-term strategic vision. Promote visibility and win the praise of team members and executive leadership alike.
About the Author:
Retail guru, Darrell Fry, brings 36 years of valuable retail experience to CrossCap, garnered primarily through his position as VP of Advertising Production at both OfficeMax and Sears. Darrell was inspired to join CrossCap in 2007 based on his experience installing and utilizing our system as one of our clients. Sold by the efficiency and originality of CrossCap’s product, Darrell holds that unlike many EMM Systems, CrossCap’s system “thinks like a retailer”. As VP of Customer Experience, Darrell is essential towards helping clients utilize our software capabilities most effectively and developing client work processes that are based on best industry practices.