Many a marketing project has overrun its timeline due to delays in getting elements signed off. While this is sometimes accepted as a reality of any marketing project, delays can be decreased or avoided with some proper preparation at the beginning of major projects.
We believe a great deal of marketing project bottlenecks come about due to insufficient buy-in from key stakeholders at the start of significant work such as website redesigns, rebranding exercises or product line changes.
While we appreciate most marketing teams would complete their due diligence in terms of practical preparation before embarking on a big project, buy-in from key stakeholders may often be neglected or not sufficiently budgeted for, with regards to time.
Why is this such a big thing?
Some marketers with a more 'purist' approach to branding and design have been guilty of believing their expert opinion is superior to other stakeholders in the business, and that the latter need to be merely informed of creative decisions, rather than consulted for a view.
In investment management firms this can often cause big marketing projects to take on a more emotional tone. This is largely because these firms tend to have many internal stakeholders who are deeply emotionally invested in the brand, as a number of them would likely have been involved with the business either since the start or for an extended period of time.
A fact that is often difficult for some marketers to swallow is that, while these internal stakeholders - who may be anyone from a senior sales director, operational head to portfolio managers - may not know as much about the discipline of marketing, their brand experience is invaluable. They might see a new brand direction from a different angle, and these views need to be taken into account.
What to do when things really need to move on?
Of course, there has to be a balance between considering stakeholders' views and standing firm on why an outdated brand look and feel or impractical website needs to change.
So how to move things along?
Three general pointers for managing most of the emotions in big projects include:
- Genuinely consider the key stakeholders from the start - this means understanding why some people would be protective of the brand and ensuring them that their views are being heard in the changes that are proposed.
- Check in with key stakeholders at important project milestones - while there may be time pressure to complete projects, stakeholder management throughout a big project should not be glossed over, as this may very well reduce future unhappiness when the project is much further down the line!
- Remind everyone of the greater goal constantly - ensure there is a key message about the aim of the project and do not let stakeholders lose this from sight, e.g. 'people coming to our website get frustrated because they cannot find information about our products easily enough, which means they buy from our competitors'.
Through sensitive stakeholder management - combined with factual data to support the rationale for significant projects - marketing teams would have more chance of success in delivering items on time.