Some work with Monday or Trello, others with Asana, Slack or Basecamp. Teamwork tools are plentiful. And in fact most of them are less geared towards professional project managers and more towards those who deal with project work on a daily basis as employees. But how can such tools help channel marketing campaigns, and why are collaboration systems like these even necessary?
We spoke with Dave King, Head of Marketing at Asana. He has been well acquainted with agencies and the marketing world for many years and has worked in numerous marketing functions for Salesforce, among others. In this interview, he explains how tools can make marketing campaigns and processes in agencies and companies easier and more transparent to control.
I have the impression that the marketing business has become even more fast-paced in the past few years than it was before. Compared to ten years ago, do we now have to tackle more projects in less time?
Definitely, and marketing has become increasingly fragmented. In the age of the always-on mentality, more content is being produced in companies than ever before. We all use more channels with various media formats. And one-way communication has increasingly been replaced by dialog with customers. This is indispensable in the social media environment, but also time-consuming. At the same time, however, the resources available have not increased to the same extent. As a company, you therefore have two options for dealing with the situation: either working longer and harder or increasing efficiency.
Many companies and brands are therefore optimizing their processes and adapting them to the requirements of the channels. And, by the way, this is also often associated with a shift towards agile working methods in large established companies. This is simply because you can respond better and more quickly to developments and get products on the road faster in this way.
Do you have an example of this type of development?
Yes, Sony Music is a good example of this. They manage a repertoire of thousands of bands and artists and, in the past, they engaged in long-term planning, produced albums, prepared marketing campaigns and then implemented them with a manageable number of channels from today’s perspective. But that’s not the way business is now done. Today, the focus is on individual songs, short-term impacts and external events that have led the company to cut its production times by 75 percent. All this shows that it’s all about using time more efficiently and still being able to do what marketers actually want to do—what their core business is—despite the changed framework conditions: focus on the creative and strategic decisions.
Increasing efficiency sounds obvious. But what does it mean in concrete terms?
We have found that knowledge workers spend an average of sixty percent of their time coordinating things rather than actually doing them. They are now networked with more and more partners, service providers, agencies and freelancers, especially in marketing. They coordinate various topics in different regions and marketers are all too often quite aware of how much time it all takes. But especially in international teams that have reached a certain size, working with tables, text documents and graphics quickly becomes confusing. Countless emails are sent back and forth and meetings take place that many people are not aware of.
So are meetings and emails the biggest problem from your perspective?
Yes, they are indeed the two things that take the most time in everyday business. Both often only serve to coordinate how far along someone is with certain work steps or who still has which tasks to do. Collaboration solutions can be used to simplify these things and largely do without them. Anyone who needs information actively obtains it and is not torn from their work with project status reports in the form of a meeting.
To be honest, many meetings in the past were unnecessary because they often just consisted of status updates. And when you weren’t there, you had to be informed by a colleague. Of course, this applies even more to decentralized teams that work at different locations or even across different time zones. They are often unable to hold personal meetings and depend on a clear system.
Asana has introduced an industry solution for marketing projects. What distinguishes it from other offers?
With “Asana for Marketing and Creative Teams” we intend to provide a team solution for managing all phases of marketing campaigns. This is based on the agile marketing concept and all work steps can be traced by all participants in a central location. It includes the process of gathering information and facts at the beginning of a project, but also coordination of the actual creative work and the approval process with the client and the agency. Team goals can even be managed and controlled using a portfolio function. This is practical, especially when marketing goals and strategy are tied to individual projects and tasks.
That all sounds like a lot of administrative work. How does one avoid creating more work with these intermediate steps that have to be entered rather than streamlining the processes?
Normally, there should be no distinction between doing the work and reporting it. Ideally, when a task is completed and uploaded, for example, the processing status changes automatically. It is important not to work in several similar project tools, which may differ in their project progress updates in the worst case. And it is also important that other lists or tables, such as those required for reporting, are not maintained separately. This actually would cause additional work.
So it is not just a matter of mapping the workflows, but also of changing workflows?
Yes. After all, the whole thing is not just an end in itself. For the management level or the project managers, this type of work organization helps make sure they can access the most important KPIs and project statuses at any time, i.e., that they have the possibility to continuously monitor the project rather than simply obtain a fixed status at a specific point in time. Another side effect is that team assistants are less busy collecting reports.