As an outside marketing consultant working in the corporate arena, much of my day is spent chasing down approvals for campaigns, ad schemes and promotions. Even career, in-house marketing gurus struggle at times with the many sign-offs that are needed to move a project forward.
Allow me to offer a brief word of advice to companies looking to leverage the fresh perspective of an outside consultant:
Please, streamline the approval process as much as possible. Most outside consultants have chosen this path because they enjoy the freedom of performing their craft outside of the traditional corporate hierarchy. Creative spontaneity is what gives a new ad campaign wings. And nothing makes me regret taking on a new client more than being subject to the whims of fifteen different stakeholders and their endless, asynchronous requests for revisions.
The First Challenge is Confirming that Sign-Off Has Been Granted
One of my more frustrating experiences came during my birth by fire into the corporate arena. Our team created a powerful brand refresh; complete with concepts for YouTube videos, new social media pages, reactive animation ads and landing pages.
The only thing that was missing was a VR campaign – something that Mack managed to dominate with their Mack Anthem rollout.
During individual conversations with each stakeholder, I gained their verbal approval to move forward. And, of course, there were requests for minor tweaks along the way. Once these tweaks were incorporated, I asked for a meeting to present our concept to the entire leadership team.
Half-way through the meeting, as I hit play on our YouTube video concepts, I started to hear some grumbling from the back of the room. For the remainder of the presentation, this low conversational buzz continued. Finally, it was time for input – something I had hoped would come in the form of a quick thumbs up.
Boy, was I wrong. Nearly every member of the c-suite started in with their concerns. It was a disaster. I had to try and rebuild the entire campaign from scratch. There were just too many objections, and each one pulled the project in a different direction. Reconciling everything would be a challenge, and it was just easier to hit restart.
I’ve since learned my lesson. Getting verified sign-off from each member of the c-suite requires a lot more than a verbal commitment from each decision-maker.
Use Third-Party Verification to Confirm Sign-Off
There are many ways to authenticate an e-signature. The main things that I look for in an e-signature solution are:
Does it allow for stakeholders to sign-off from anywhere?
Does it require some sort of challenge, to confirm that the stakeholder is signing-off, and not one of their executive assistants?
Can I easily access the executed document from any device?
If a revision is made, can I easily highlight the changes and gain an electronic sign-off for those changes from each stakeholder?
This may sound extreme, but you’ll find that when you’re working with a diverse team of decision-makers, you need them to execute their sign-off privileges responsibly. This tool, which is legally the same as a handwritten signature, grabs the attention of decision-makers. They take an extra moment to look things over and ensure that they really are happy with what they’re signing off on – something that dramatically reduces last minute objections to things they previously overlooked.
Everyone on the team, whether a stakeholder or an outside consultant, has an endless list of fires to put out – demanding immediate attention and distracting from the organizational goals. As an outsider coming into the fray, it’s best to carefully document interactions with each key decision-maker. This not only ensures that their input is taken into consideration, but helps you to earn their attention at critical moments.
For more tips, tools, and hacks to make your life as a marketer easier- join us at Modern Customer Experience 2018. ModernCX’s Modern Marketing track offers more than 200 expert-led sessions geared to equip you with new skills you can immediately apply to your work.
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