The new year is just around the corner. It’s an ideal time to refocus, reorganize, and plan your inbound marketing for the year ahead. But, how can you effectively make change happen in your organization when you plan on doing things the same old way and fall into the same old habits? Effective change for your business is possible, sustainable, and surprisingly easy thanks to one simple word: processes.
Well-defined, consistently executed and evaluated, and continuously improved processes are the difference between an inbound marketing campaign that achieves marginal goodness and one that achieves consistent greatness.
So what are processess? Processes are a set of defined tasks that are needed to complete a given business activity. A well-defined process will include who is responsible for completing each step in the activity and when and how they will complete those steps. The idea of coming up with process may seem like more work than the actual task itself, but processes can benefit a business in several ways.
Processes make a business competitive: If every time you or your team completes a task and the way it is done is completed differently than the last time, it’s impossible to evaluate any possible strengths or weaknesses or identify opportunities for improvement. At Alaniz Marketing, every assignment we are given comes with a detailed checklist. If we faithfully complete each task on our assignment checklist then we know that the product we put out will be of the highest quality. If quality is compromised, it’s then easy to go back and see where we missed a step and correct it. In short, we know when we are doing things right, and can more quickly correct things when we didn’t.
Processes enable growth: Every CEO hopes that they will grow their business enough that they will need to hire additional staff. Defined processes provide a blueprint for new employees and enable cross-training to minimize business interruption during growth, unforeseen illness, and even employee turnover. Processes can also help your company understand what roles in your business you may need to hire for and identify skill gaps that are hindering success.
Processes drive profitability: To improve profitability, it is imperative to find ways to improve efficiency without sacrificing quality and consistency. It’s beyond frustrating to get halfway through a task and realizing that a co-worker has been working on the same thing. Processes help identify duplication of effort and spot areas that are being overlooked. They maximize the value of everything you do by ensuring it can be leveraged elsewhere, ultimately saving time – and money.
Processes make for better teams: A great way to make processes even more effective is to make sure that each team member is being utilized in the most efficient way possible. Unless you hired Star Wars Clone droids, you have a unique team with unique skills. Figuring out which skills go best with each task will help ensure the job is done efficiently. And since people usually enjoy what they are good at, your teams will be happier, and more efficient.
Now that you know why you need processes, let’s take a look at how to create effective processes.
⇒Start by doing the task yourself: In order to create a good process, you need to understand what it takes to execute the process. Start by actually doing the task yourself or having a department manager complete the process, documenting each step with as much detail as possible.
⇒Have a team member complete the process: Once you or your department manager have the basic steps of your outline done, give it to a team member to execute. Try to have the team member do this task while you are available to help them. If your team member has questions, write them down. But make sure not to answer the question directly; instead, go back into the process and update it and have them re-read it.
⇒Use screenshots to offer clarity: Whether your process is in Google Docs, BaseCamp, or just a regular Word document, a picture is worth a thousand words. Add in screenshots when appropriate to illustrate how things should be done.
⇒Have a new team member run through the process: Your process should be clear enough that anyone qualified for the role could carry out this task. You can test this by handing the process off to a newer team member and seeing how they use the process. Try to use a team member who does not typically work with the tools or tasks associated with the process. This is the best way to test the clarity and efficiency of the steps.
⇒Divide up long processes. If your process starts to get much longer than 10 steps, see if you can divide it into several smaller processes.
⇒Delegate! Once your process is producing predictable results, you can hand the process off completely to a team member. It’s usually best to have the person who is responsible for carrying out the process in charge of it. That team member will also be responsible for the upkeep of the process.
Taking the time to think out well-defined, well-tested processes will help your inbound marketing reach new levels of efficiency and success this new year. Want to get even more organized? Check out our 2016 Marketing and Editorial Calendar. A great place to define all your inbound marketing needs!