How to get more out of your marketing requests

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Marketing requests come from many areas of the organization, and that’s why it’s useful to have marketing request forms.

But what are the best ways to file marketing requests and is there maybe a marketing requests template that we can use?

What’s the current state of how marketing requests are submitted?

Before we dive into solutions, let’s look at why the topic of marketing requests is even something worth discussing. Workflows can vary widely from company to company, and that’s okay to an extent. The size of the company and teams matter and play into the type of workflow, certainly.

Some teams use technology solutions like Jira, Trello, Basecamp, or similar. Others use a Word document that gets emailed around. Some have a meeting. Others yet drop off a request – some call it a drive-by.

Some of the workflows out there work, and some don’t. From my experience, to truly solve business solutions through marketing strategies, we need to collaborate. The VP stopping by and dropping something off saying “make this look pretty, please” doesn’t equal success or results many times.

Not even doing everything “right” equals success anymore in digital marketing. Things change from time to time, and as Michael Brenner mentioned on an episode of the podcast: Allow people to do what you hired them for. And for marketing team members that includes production, implementation, and marketing strategy development and guidance.

That’s of course, hard to do when people just drop off an order! Sometimes those orders aren’t even considering everything else that’s on the menu. Why are you ordering the infographic when the GIF would do a much better job?

Let’s dive into how we can make marketing requests and with that the outcome better.

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Advantages and disadvantages of written marketing request forms

One way to get better marketing requests is to put together a project brief or marketing request form. In theory, these are good ideas and can help us get better requests, but they also can take the collaboration out of the project. On the far end, they might even create unnecessary friction.

Let’s say you create a marketing request form. I’ll tell you below what should be in it if you choose to do that.

These are scenarios that can happen:

  • Somebody fills it out and drops it off. “No time for questions.”
  • Somebody doesn’t use it and just complains that their stuff isn’t getting done. “I don’t have time to fill out that form.”
  • Use the form as a thought starter for a discussion.

Marketing request forms can also be filled out by the marketing team member who interviews the person with the request. Just this interview alone – even just 10-15 minutes – can be a quick collaboration between the requester and the marketing team.

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What does a marketing request form need to include?

The following questions are helpful – verbally or on a marketing request form – before starting a new project:

  • What are we trying to achieve with this project?
  • What is the proposed deadline? Why that date?
  • What’s the objective?
  • What ideas do you have already? (This is where people can say they want a trifold brochure, or whatever and you can talk about the ideas.)
  • Who is the target audience (and where do you think can we reach them)?
  • What budget is available?
  • Who are the stakeholders? Who approves assets?
  • What channels are we considering for this project?

Feel free to use my template in your marketing projects.

Try this process for marketing request forms

Remember that just because there’s a form to fill out it doesn’t have to be a lengthy document. Part of the collaboration could even happen over Slack – for example follow-up questions and ideas.

Simply telling people they themselves must now fill out a form can indeed come across heavy-handed and not very collaborative. I would instead recommend a softer and combined approach:

Remind requesters that you are there to help and the best way to do that is to start with a good collaboration to make sure all bases are covered.

Some people tell me they don’t have time for the 30-minute collaboration. But will they have way more time needed later when the project isn’t working and needs to be redone?

Then sit down with them and take the request and basically go through the questions on the form.

Agree on the next steps and set a time to meet to review the materials. 

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Efficiency in workflows for marketing requests

Efficiency in workflows matters. But that doesn’t mean we should cut out necessary steps like collaborations. Let’s dive into some other areas that matter regarding efficiency.

Firstly, finding more efficient ways to do things can actually help us find time to do the things we never get to. Maybe we can update the workflow and be more creative. Maybe we can tell stories differently.

But that only works when the worker bees see the benefit. Stepping on my billable hour soap box for a moment:

I’m a big fan of the minimally viable workflow and often that includes cutting out the politics and throwing tasks over the wall while hoping somebody will catch them on the other side.

And there certainly are many terrible workflows out there that we can scrap and update. These two approaches can help get to inefficiency.

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Start with people who don’t have a history with the workflow!

When new people start on any team, they often make statements like this:

“I’m trying to learn the workflow.”

That makes sense and I’ve done that throughout my career. Even when a company hires me to “rip up” an outdated workflow I still want to dive in and learn many of the current processes’ pieces.

But see having a new group of people, you can just build it more from scratch. There’s no baggage or attachment  to the workflow that they are accustomed to it, because it’s all new to them.

Find pain points in workflows

For team members who have grown accustomed to a specific workflow, it often comes back to finding pain points. And here’s the tricky part. I might see a pain point that they won’t agree is a pain point at all.

“I’ve done that for years, and it takes me seconds.”

Sure, but the seconds also add up! And maybe there’s a better way to do it.

When it comes to marketing requests and the marketing team doesn’t fulfill them correctly, maybe a new workflow is what will help here!

The problem is that sometimes people won’t agree that this is indeed a pain point. “It’s not the workflow. It’s the marketing team members,” is something they may say. That could be true, but it also might be true that it is the workflow.

Content creation is heavy lifting to begin with so wouldn’t it be great to move all physical workflows (i.e.: too much clicking and dragging, for example) to thinking time?

Thinking time is often frowned upon by Industrial Age leaders. Only visible action was important. That’s the factory model. Widgets only get made when you are making them and that means action. Content can be created anywhere – though there’s an advantage to leaving your office at times!

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Asking better questions

It also comes down to asking better questions. Who are we trying to reach, why are we doing this and what are we trying to accomplish. Matt Seltzer covers that topic in depth in his book “The Creative Catalyst.We discussed the topic at length in this podcast episode as well.

Working together

Most things can be shared in the way of a story that our target audiences care about. When we publish stories that our stakeholders bring to us, that can really help our relationship with them.

And that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have rules of what we’ll publish and what won’t get published on an organization’s behalf. Those rules are helpful, but there are also ways to look for a story that our audience’s will care about. Sometimes, our stakeholders, usually because they aren’t trained storytellers like us, just didn’t frame it in the most audience-centric way. They framed it about themselves:

Come cover my speech.

Hey, I’m speaking.

This day is important to me. Let’s do a blog post on the day.

It happens. Even us marketers do it. All humans do it. Especially when we aren’t actively thinking about not doing it.

The trick is that you want to redirect the focus into something customer-centric. And working well with stakeholders ultimately will help us do better marketing, too.

At the end of the day, having a strategic approach to all marketing strategies can help us set those marketing strategies up for success. Marketing request forms can help.

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