One foot in front of the other: The best way for
businesses and contract marketers to succeed
Many organizations call on outsource agencies to help with marketing tool development, PR strategy, lead generation and all things promotional. When this happens, representatives from both the organization and agency generally must work together to accomplish the end goal. This relationship is critical in delivering the best results.
Sometimes, this collaboration between business and contract marketer can be as simple as a few people exchanging ideas. Other times, it amounts to a large chorus of folks. Regardless of the size of the implementation group, a project’s progress depends on unified commitment to direction.
In a perfect world, this Frankenteam of diverse personalities, backgrounds and work styles moves as one. At times, the path to achievement may be dotted with rough terrain, but the functioning body pushes forward as one – the left leg in stride with the right. Again…that’s a perfect world.
In reality, it doesn’t take much to kill a team’s momentum. One person’s indecisive vision can cause the whole group to become untethered, unstrung and disjointed. While cries of It’s Alive. It’s Alive! may apply, the whole endeavor is in danger of falling to crazed townspeople bearing torches.
Every group – and project for that matter – needs a common thread to securely pull the whole thing together. Despite team members’ individual opinions, egos and ideas, one core element assures a winning outcome. In marketing, this is a clear vision and action plan.
Call it discipline. Call it focus. But it sits at the forefront of every triumphant project. Still, it doesn’t always come so easy. Simple steps that taken at the outset can guarantee that the team moves forward, not backwards. Before they’re put into action, though, everyone in the group must buy in to the logic.
First, map out the stakeholder landscape. Identify everyone in the project who will make decisions and approvals. Identify the best policies for submitting information to these folks. Discuss their project expectations and what they’re looking for in a working relationship. Explore these expectations as a group and outline what needs to happen to reach these goals. Just as important, align expectations with time tables and address potential variables that could impact the scope.
Second, create a shared language. Construct a list of common words that will be used throughout the project. Make sure all involved have the same meaning for each term. You’d be amazed at how word interpretations vary from one person to the next. For instance, John might view a “Mock-up” as a roughly-sketched draft, while Cindy defines a “Mock-up” as a completed, polished representation.
Third, construct a journey map, outlining the project as a whole. This includes benchmark dates, the rules of play to reach these milestones and individual responsibilities. Require sign-off from all team players. This map should break the entire project into small, manageable phases. The team does not proceed to the next phase without final sign-off on the prior.
Fourth, communicate honestly, regularly and in a language everyone understands. Those involved must be careful of overusing – or trying to impress – with industry lingo and technical terms. At this point, you’ve all romanced each other and shown you know your field. It’s time to talk like humans!
Fifth, don’t make decisions based on emotion, personal aspirations or instant gratification. Rather, make decisions based on effectiveness and sensibility. You’re only as successful as the finished product. In other words, it’s a draft until it’s not a draft. The team must realize that projects can be fluid. Commit 100 percent energy and be accountable, but know hurdles will arise. The difference between a losing and winning team is how the group handles those situations…as one.