How many great ideas never get implemented at your company because the approval process is more complicated than putting a man on the moon? My guess is more often than you would like to admit. Too often I hear feedback from clients that they love an idea but cannot move forward because it “will never get approved by legal.”
Well no more. Creativity is what intrigues buyers, develops brand awareness and makes sales. It is needed, and we cannot sacrifice it in order to get approval.
Here are some tips for cutting through the red tape to get content approved in enterprise level organizations.
- Designate a Project Manager: While the success of a lead nurturing campaign is dependent upon many people, it is essential that one person manage the progress of the campaign from planning through execution. This person is responsible for ensuring deadlines are met and is also the central point of contact. Consider designating a backup so the project can stay on track in the event the project manager is out sick or on vacation. You may find it helpful to create a system for tracking documents throughout the process that is accessible by all team members.
- Meet with Key Players Early-On: During the initial planning process, schedule a meeting with all key players involved in the approval process. Key players may include your heads of marketing and sales, C-level executives, technical experts, product managers and members of the regulatory or legal department. Yes—you read that right: involve your legal/regulatory teams during the planning process. Contrary to popular belief, their mission is not to squash every idea you present. Your legal/regulatory teams can become one of your biggest advocates once they understand the how and why.
- Everything is on the Table: Don’t assume that just because your company is in a regulated industry that trying something new is off the table. Your planning session is the perfect opportunity to address roadblocks. If you have been told that your company cannot blog, yet blogging is a critical component of your campaign, find out why your executive team or legal team is against this practice. The answer may be as simple as establishing guidelines for the type of information that is shared.
- Visually Outline the Current Approval Process: Visually outlining the current approval process is helpful in identifying gaps or areas for improvement. Additionally, this workflow will show each person’s role within the process. Once the regulatory and legal teams understand that several eyes have seen the content, including senior product managers, they will be much more confident in the process and content presented. This simple exercise was a big step in earning the buy-in from the regulatory team of one client.
Keep in mind, not all copy may need to go through the same rigorous review process. For example, copy extracted from previously approved documents for the use in emails or blogs may be able to bypass some stages of the approval process. During your planning session, discuss the necessary signatures required for each type of digital asset. Understanding the number of signatures required for each asset type will enable you to set realistic goals.
- Identify Roadblocks and Establish Realistic Goals: Each member of the team should commit to a reasonable amount of time to complete their part of the approval process and identify any potential roadblocks they experience. Based on the approval times provided by each party, you can now establish a realistic target to strive for. If your goal is to release a new piece of content every 30 days, and you determine your approval process will take 25 days, you may want to reconsider your goal or look for ways to further streamline the approval process.
Continuous Improvement: Despite all of your diligent planning, you are bound to hit some bumps in the road. Take these bumps as learning opportunities for continuous improvement and don’t let the communication with key players end at the conclusion of your planning session. Meet with your team on a regular basis to review progress and share success stories.
Do you have any of your own tips to share? Please post them to the comment section below.
photo credit: Melissa Youngern