When asking fellow marketers why they entered into -- and love -- this line of work, many tell me how much they enjoy the chance to create on a daily basis. Whether it's a new piece of content, a social media campaign, or a landing page for a new product, there's something about the creative process that marketers just love.
But for many of us, it's tough to simply start creating on command. And since establishing a process can be seen as rigid and uncreative, we often shy away from systems and routines that can help us be more productive. But that's a mistake -- the best marketing teams embrace process as a way to continually execute great marketing campaigns.
The Science Behind Process
Process has been around for a long time. Perhaps the most popular, modern example of using process effectively to drive results in business comes from Toyota in the 20th century.
Under the guidance of American statistician William Edwards Deming, Toyota transformed the way its manufacturing facilities built cars. This system is what led to Toyota's dominance in car markets and even put American car companies in severe jeopardy in the late 2000s.
So what was the key to Toyota's success? Now popularly referenced as "The Toyota Way," the company focused on continuous improvement. While the end result was certainly important, it knew that following the right process would produce the right results. With that in mind, the company's management focused on measuring its process as closely as possible.
Some key points that drove The Toyota Way include:
Respect for people
Belief that the right process will produce the right results
Focus on treating root problems rather than symptoms
While this process works well for Toyota, process in general isn't just something for reducing costs in a car company. Great process can make any department in any company more effective -- including marketing.
Great Process, Great Companies, and Great Marketing
To give you an idea of just how certain processes can be applied to different parts of marketing, here are a few companies with unique processes and how they grow and improve through implementing them.
KISSmetrics' Webinar Marketing Process
Marketing analytics firm KISSmetrics does a fantastic job with its content marketing. The reason behind its success with content hasn't happened by chance, though. Instead, the company uses a very specific webinar marketing process to make sure that webinars produce the results it's aiming to achieve. Here are KISSmetrics' steps for putting together a webinar:
Choose the goal of the webinar -- This could be to increase sales or leads or to get some good press for the company.
Identify content that converts -- The company finds old content that has resulted in the goal chosen for the webinar, and then it builds the webinar around that goal.
Build the funnel -- Typically, this means driving traffic to a landing page, getting those visitors to register for the webinar, and following up with those attendees after the webinar.
Rehearse and conduct a professional webinar -- This means doing a pre-run of the webinar to ensure everything is prepared accordingly and then executing the actual webinar.
Update the webinar landing page -- Once the webinar ends, the company can easily update its landing page to include a recording of the webinar so that its hard work continually generates leads in the future.
Optimize the process for learning -- The company makes sure to track everything and learn from the process. That way, it gets better each time.
By using this process (and tools like Unbounce), KISSmetrics was able to increase its webinar sign-up conversion rates 40-80%. And the best part of KISSmetrics' method is that everything is reusable from webinar to webinar. This means each new webinar requires less work since its system dictates how the repetitive parts of the process should work.
WordPress, About.me, and Wealthfront's Public Relations Process
In this fascinating article, public relations professional Brooke Hammerling goes into detail on how some very notable startups, like WordPress, About.me, and Wealthfront, continue to score big wins in the press.
Hint: It's not about a one-off funding announcement or product launch. At its simplest level, it's about building a relationship with reporters and having a steady drumbeat of story pitches that fit the message the company wants to portray.
Pandora's Product Development Process
Content marketing and public relations aren't the only marketing areas that get can benefit from process. Pandora uses a product prioritization system that helps its entire company plan new features. Pandora's product development process got it more than 70 million active users with a tiny, but productive team of 40 engineers.
What's the secret sauce? Pandora has no long-term road map. Instead, every 90 days, its management team sits down and develops a list of all the potential features they'd like to ship that quarter. Then, with the help of an internal fake money system, the management team is able to narrow the list down to just a handful of shippable features that will have the biggest impact on the company. Each quarter, Pandora rinses, washes, and repeats.
Experimenting With Tools to Build Great Process
Just as important to the management and marketing process you put in place are the tools that enable you to work quickly and execute a process as a marketer.
A great marketing tool can allow you to build a landing page in no time, run A/B tests to figure out the best converting page, and send segmented emails to the right leads based on activity -- all without having to interact with your programming team. Those tools are invaluable as a marketer, because you can execute on your marketing plan as quickly and effectively as possible with little error.
HubSpot customers know they have tools to help marketers attract visitors to your website, convert those to leads, and then close them as customers. But they also know it's important to integrate any other tools they're using with their marketing software for a seamless experience -- which is why I'm excited to announce the Zapier-HubSpot partnership today.
If you're unfamiliar with Zapier, it's a tool that makes it easy to connect and integrate hundreds of web services in just a few minutes. Zapier is great for a marketer because you can easily connect HubSpot to any form software, CRM, project management app, or any other tool you might be using.
If you're a HubSpot customer, you can take advantage of this right away by logging into your HubSpot portal. The ultimate goal of this partnership is to make our mutual customers the most productive they can be by tying together all of the tools that they use without ever having to leave HubSpot.
So enjoy using HubSpot and Zapier together to create a process that makes your marketing faster and more efficient. And after dedicating a little time to implementing your process, you'll be able to save enough time and money to spend some more time with your family or take that extra vacation you've been planning. :-)
How does your marketing team go about creating an effective process?
Originally published Feb 13, 2014 2:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017