How to avoid ‘sign-off by committee’ when executing marketing campaigns

I spent a number of years running marketing campaigns in a regulated industry. It wasn’t unusual to require sign-off from as many as 15 people for marketing campaigns. Yes, that’s right! 15 different opinions and 15 different voices inputting into campaign creative.  The agency would provide brilliant copy and creative, for it to come back from the first round of approval twice as long with the original message diluted. Sign-off by multiple stakeholders is a reality for most B2B marketers, but there are some steps you can take to avoid ending up with a lacklustre campaign.

Know the objectives and audience for your marketing campaigns

No doubt you will have written a creative brief for the campaign. I always share key sections of this with reviewers so they understand the primary message, the objectives and the audience. This helps to preserve the promotional message.

Be clear about what you want reviewers to comment on

Stakeholders will be thinking of their own areas. The brand manager will be looking at Tone of Voice and compliance with brand guidelines. The sales director will want to be confident the campaign will generate leads and the compliance officer wants to ensure your marketing campaign isn’t going to land the company a whopping fine from a regulatory body. However, it’s not uncommon for people to give subjective feedback on marketing material.

My old boss used to refer to this as ‘Everyone’s a marketer syndrome’. Well, actually, no they are not. You are the marketer and it’s your job to make it clear what you want their input on and why. Explain what action you will take with their comments. Make it clear that you want to ensure the marketing campaign is on brand and compliant but also impactful and likely to hit objectives.

Be a demon project manager

Give stakeholders early warning of key sign-off dates so they can schedule it in with their other work. Make it easy for them to approve material – consider using a project tool like Trello or Slack. This way comments aren’t lost in email threads and reviewers have visibility of other people’s comments. When you issue the second round of creative for approval, highlight what text has been changed and which reviewer’s comment it relates to. This way it takes less time for everyone to approve material.

Thank and inform

Stakeholders have given their time to review so thank them for their contribution. Make sure you keep them updated with any early campaign results. Afterall, you are going to be doing this again shortly with the next marketing campaign.  People feel a lot happier to stick to their roles for future campaigns when they see that the campaign they contributed to has had the desired effects.

Finally, review what went well and what didn’t. Apply any learnings from the sign-off process to future marketing campaigns.

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