The Need for Speed—How to Get Great Ideas to Market Faster

A year ago, we would have told you that speed is the key for success in today’s marketing world. Given the realities that we have had to manage over the past year, being able to react in real time is now too slow.

Covid has accelerated the need for brands and in-house agencies, in particular, to respond faster. Moving fast means you may need to access additional creative firepower that can digest a brief and kick back ideas at hyper-speed. And, to that point, you may also need added support because your system is already overloaded.

Speed and agility are not new challenges for marketers and their in-house agencies. To better understand these challenges, we recently commissioned a study to see what senior leaders think of their marketing infrastructure and capabilities.

Only 21% of senior marketers we asked say their external partners move at the speed they need.

Marketing and agency models are frequently burdened with silos and power grabs. Adding to the problem is that instead of becoming more agile, complexity is added daily from new challengers, new channels and an unpredictable social media landscape. While there’s an imperative to streamline and welcome diverse solutions, the ideas that finally come to light are too often bogged down by overthinking.

In-house agencies need to speed up their systems and processes. Here are four ways to get your operations to move at the speed of change so you can build culturally relevant brand ideas that deliver:

Replace Drawn-Out Creative Processes with Agile Iteration.

One marketer notes that the way they work with partners is the antithesis of rapid agile iteration: “You brief and then it’s three weeks before the agency comes back. The whole thing becomes a painful four-to-six-month process.”

To speed this up, we suggest you ‘Marie Kondo’ your workflow and see if it sparks creativity. Take a hard look at how you can provoke your teams to think differently. You might be managing work instead of creating an environment that drives ideas. Get rid of processes that slow you down; then, opt for shorter sprints and faster decision making.

We have created a problem/definition process that clearly defines the brief and stimulates a diverse range of ideas within one week. Establishing a time frame and moving with it, not against it, can free you up to be more active.

Audit Your Approval Systems and Empower Your Team.

Lengthy approval systems within marketing organizations can prevent the group from moving at the speed needed. This problem is most evident in social media when it can take three days to a week to get a social media post approved. At that point, you lose relevance and more.

To move with culture as it happens, you have to empower your employees by trusting them to make the right decisions. Establish guidelines, share them and make sure your own leadership team sets the example.

If you can’t make your entire organization agile, at least ensure you have a crack team designed to move fast. This might require hiring proven talent that are wired for action, versus others who are more deliberate and contemplative. Those individuals have a role, but perhaps not on your front line.

Challenge Procurement to Design a New Partnership Structure.

As marketers look to new kinds of partners to help them build and move more efficiently, they need to adjust how they scope for those kinds of solutions. Procurement often entails buying huge quantities of material or working with large organizations and multiple teams.

As more marketers embrace in-housing, they are looking for different types of agency partners with on-demand skills to plug into their processes. They need dedicated procurement support to design a new partnership structure that recognizes the value of smaller providers and start-ups who charge differently.

For example, BeenThereDoneThat charges a set fee by project. And we’ve been able to do this with some of the largest organizations.

Hone Your Brand Purpose So Employees Can Move Fast Without Breaking Things

As one CMO we spoke with noted, “Once you are clear on the values and beliefs of your brand, you are able to have a point of view and react in real time.”

Having a clear positioning or purpose should be fundamental, but it frequently gets neglected as people chase short-term sales and revenue objectives. But if you pay attention to what you stand for and socialize that throughout your enterprise, your teams will be empowered to bring it to life every day in a fast and agile way.

The need to get ideas to market fast is not going to change. To enable innovation to have an impact, we need to build structures that are trusted, empowered and can deliver in real time.

IHAF member BeenThereDoneThat harnesses the world’s best thinkers to solve the world’s toughest problems. They are a carefully curated community of 200+ of the world’s best Chief Strategy, Chief Creative Officers, and other marketing specialists, all with 20+ years of experience. Visit their website to learn more.

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