Handling Review & Approval Between One Brand And Multiple Agencies
The most important function of any marketing team is managing the brand. A robust workflow system can help with this enormous task, as it allows you to control the approval process in a more systematic way. As an operations lead, one of my most difficult challenges is controlling the workflow and managing the brand when multiple agencies are involved. Here is my story.
Multiple Agencies, One Brand
My employer had an internal agency that was responsible for everything other than broadcast assets. Print, store design, digital, internal communications and more were shared across more than 35 individual strategy leads and “clients” managing these products across multiple channels.
With inMotion as our workflow system, we were able to construct templates for each product line with controlled approval workflows. We were responsible for over 350 unique projects at any given time and had to keep them on time and on budget. Then, we made a drastic change to our marketing plan.
We introduced not one, but four advertising agencies to the mix, in addition to our established internal team. It was like running a three-ring circus. Jobs were coming in from everywhere and clients were dealing directly with the agencies to make requests and approve art. After a month of chaos, we knew we needed a different approach.
Running A Tighter Ship
We formed a committee and put into place a streamlined process that would keep the right people on point at the right time to get things done faster. We decided that managing the brand was a critical role that needed to be played by our creative leads, not individual clients. We tested the new plan on a live project.
At its core, the plan helped to clearly define who was responsible for what in each step of the process. We discovered that we had too many steps and too many people in the process, which made a single brand voice impossible. With a few modifications, we hit our stride. Below is our new and improved job process.
1. Assign Strategy Lead
This person is on the client side and is responsible for the input brief, identifying the channel owners and acting as reviewer and approver from the strategy side.
2. Assign Internal Creative Lead
This person, usually a creative director or VP of creative services, is responsible for ensuring brand standards are met.
3. Assign Agency
One person from Operations is responsible for assigning the agency based on factors such as the agency’s specialty and current workload.
4. Assign Project Manager
Allow a seasoned project manager, rather than an account manager, run the show. It’s a hard concept to accept for many until it’s done correctly once!
This new streamlined plan prevents too many cooks from entering the kitchen, which makes start to finish smoother and faster.
With a workflow system like inMotion that allows for flexibility and customization, we were able to undertake complex projects that didn’t fit into a single template. It allows us to set timelines, approve creative and more so that everything falls into place.
The software helped us measure historical data to determine how long each job would take. From there we built out project plans, established lead times and built a template around it.
The lesson we learned from this experience was to brainstorm and try out ideas until you find the right workflow solution for your team. It won’t be easy to start, but with the right support, it will be easy to finish.
Debbie Kennedy is a career advertising and marketing professional with over a decade of experience leading the Operations team for an in-house agency at a Fortune 500 company. Her background in the creative field, as a copywriter and creative director, provides her with a broad perspective on creative workflow and processes.