It’s easy to become complacent with your marketing efforts when the desired results are rolling in, but don’t let that stop you from constantly evaluating how to be a leading marketer and drive better results. In particular, marketers should consistently assessing the efficiencies of their processes and strategy.

Inefficiencies cost a lot more than you’d expect.

When you break down how much energy goes into the details of a quality marketing campaign, it’s easy to see the time, energy, effort, and resources required to make it all happen. However, these insights can slowly blend into one big blob of data. It’s not always clear what was time well-spent or a huge inefficiency because marketing teams focus on what needs to be completed and what sales goals need to be met. Inefficiencies are afterthoughts, or they’re revealed only in hindsight if there’s time or a desire to do a review.

Teams are also often running several marketing campaigns simultaneously and already on to the next thing without taking time to do a post-mortem on a finished campaign. In other words, the true cost of all that marketing work remains unclear. The only things you know are whether interest was generated and sales targets were met.

For marketers, there’s a constant push and pull between time, resources, and available dollars, which makes proving the pain of inefficiencies an even bigger necessity. All those little costs eat away at a budget as well as the bottom line.

If you think your organization has work to do when it comes to cracking down on inefficiencies, start by doing an overall audit of your systems and processes. Interview your team to hear what they have to say. People in the trenches notice the most glaring challenges and how these pain points connect to overall inefficiencies in workflow, so their input is priceless.

Next, think about ways to improve efficiency and productivity at the same time.

Productivity, Efficiency, and Brand Behavior Change

One challenge to becoming more efficient is getting teams within the organization to cooperate and work towards behavior change. The first step in doing that is making sure everyone is clear on productivity versus efficiency and on what behavior changes will contribute to each.

At a base level, productivity and efficiency are similar to quantity and quality. For example, being more productive allows you to create more customer connections. But are you sacrificing the quality of sales leads or customer service response in order to hit sales goals? Balancing the right combination of productivity and efficiency optimizes output while minimizing costs or losses and reveals where pain points are arising in the process.

You already know that once you discover inefficiencies, it’s important to make an effort to minimize them as much as possible to be more productive and maintain quality. However, knowing how to get the most out of people and tools starts with thinking beyond what you’re already doing—or think you should do according to the data—to discover pockets of opportunity hiding in plain sight.

Here are some ways to look at how your brand can rethink processes, workflow, data management, customer engagement, marketing, project timelines, and more to pinpoint inefficiencies and move beyond them to become more productive.

Review, Refine, Team Up

Workflow is the one thing that impacts everyone and everything, especially the bottom line. So be willing to look at the whole operation with an open mind and fresh perspective.

When was the last time you reviewed the overall workflow process? How about talked to team members about what works and what’s sticky? Or where tech collaboration tools can help?

Instead of looking for what you see as problems, look at the process as a whole and see where there are gaps in efficiency, progress, or productivity. Then focus on how to improve. This approach offers a more positive perspective to inspire others on the team rather than making them feel as if they’re doing something wrong that needs to be fixed.

Style guides and templates save tons of redesign time and reduce ramp up for new hires while ensuring quality control across the board among in-house employees and freelance talent.

In the big picture, a better workflows create clearer overall communication and improve the flow of how a team works together on a daily basis. After any up-front changes to team processes, ensure one person keeps an eye on how changes progress. Making ongoing tweaks instead of doing a big overhaul every year is a big help. This is similar to the lean method of marketing where addressing pain points is an ongoing process to improve the whole buyer’s journey and customer experience.

Leverage New Tech

Automation is no longer an out-there buzzword in marketing; it’s happening. So take advantage of it.

Are there tasks that improve customer service through automation via chatbots? How can you schedule social media outreach or use it to respond to customers in real-time when they need it most? Can you look at ways to automate portions of workflow or use predictive data to peek into the leading edge of industry needs or customer desires?

All those hashtags are good for something, so keep a close eye on how the keywords you use and the data you collect inform customer choices. Link it to the specific buyer personas that guide the personalization of marketing efforts via the website, email outreach, or educational content.

Limit Customer Choice Points

As a whole, the B2B sales process has many choice points and involves several people. To keep things flowing, give a potential customer two choice points at every stop in the buyer’s journey. Then, when they make it through that choice, offer another simple one, and provide links to other relevant products or services if they choose to go further.

A crucial point to remember: never give your customer an unwanted surprise with unexpected content.

The idea is to help people avoid choice paralysis while making it easier to take a step forward in a way that feels comfortable and reasonable. Then your buyer will feel good about the purchase and will likely come back to make more purchases when they’re motivated because they already know they like the user interface of how the sales process works.

Embrace A/B Testing

At it’s simplest level, A/B testing allows you to see what customers like better. Going hand in hand with limiting customer choice points, A/B testing lets you see what works with customers before fully committing to an approach, presentation, or user interface.

When you have this kind of predictive data to work with, it’s easier to scale up production in favor of how buyers personas and potential customers react. At the same time, you haven’t sunk big costs into a website design or content development without a little bit of a heads up.

At another level, use A/B testing for products, services, and check out. In the process, people can offer feedback on inefficiencies and possibly reveal other unknowns in your buyer’s journey, workflow, and interface. Your customers will point to where you should focus efforts next. This can also include the efficiency and effectiveness of certain sales funnels, lead generators, content assets, and more.

Improve Cycle Time

How fast you get something out to your target audience depends on quality to a degree. Sometimes speed wins over quality in the short term. For example, if there’s a new product or service release that packs a wallop, it can also have various moving parts to manage. To keep things simple and manageable, release products or small features more regularly.

This simplifies the process, gives you a reason to connect with your core audience regularly, and offers some wiggle room to streamline elements before they become part of a bigger release. With a more consistent pace, teams get used to working together more efficiently and can quickly point to where systems are disconnected.

Remove Waste ASAP

Within a marketing approach and workflow, look at components with these three perspectives:

  • Value-add activities: what customers would pay for and change about the look, feel, or function of your offerings
  • Non-value-add activities tied to business processes: what’s required as part of business regulations or business functions
  • Non-value-add features: what customers won’t want to pay for as part of their interaction with the brand

When you break things down using this framework, it’s easier to note where and how inefficiencies are far more than an inconvenience; you see where they’re a money drain and a limit to ROI. You’ll start to notice the little threads in the fray that go nowhere, and you can step back to see how to do a little house cleaning while actively becoming a more efficient marketer from the ground up.

Prioritize Life-Work Balance

At the core of any good work, there are good, happy teams. When employees have the time to take frequent breaks away from the desk and mix things up with walking meetings or social gatherings, they can move and thrive more, connecting more effectively with their team.

Another great asset is making space for customer-free hours where employees can work on creative or passion projects related to the brand. This makes people feel as if they’re encouraged to share more than what they do as the “worker bee.”

In addition, make it easy for teams to be productive in a flow. Streamlining the approval process, especially when there’s a lot of talent or teams involved goes a long way toward keeping up momentum and morale.

At the same time, train more than one person in similar duties to ensure that when one person is sick or out on vacation, tasks continue to move forward as usual.

At the simplest level, being more efficient in the workplace goes hand in hand with being a more efficient marketer. So take time towards the end of the year to see how you can improve core areas of performance. Start the next year with new goals of working more efficiently—always smarter, usually not harder.

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Katrina Pfannkuch

About Katrina Pfannkuch

Katrina Pfannkuch is a creativity consultant specializing in writing, editing, strategy & coaching. She's a bit of a data nerd & loves seeing how pieces of the informational puzzle come together to paint a creative picture. Catch Katrina & her insights on kick-starting creativity at @creativekatrina on Twitter.