The Marketing Blog of Clayman Marketing Communications

Manage Your Marketing: Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen


Last Wednesday, we talked about how losing control of your marketing can create problems for your brand in addition to possible benefits. The fear of negative reactions to marketing messages is nothing new. Brands have always been protective of how they are presented, whether it’s via a social media message or a radio advertisement. What has changed with the social media revolution is that negative reactions or PR nightmares can arise at any moment. No longer are advertising campaigns restricted based on running dates or times. Even if you are not engaged in social media marketing, your audience can react on social media platforms to your traditional marketing tactics.

This feeling that there is less control over how a brand is received can lead to another problem – what we like to call “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Whether you work for an agency or internally as part of a marketing department, it is very likely you have experienced this unfortunate situation. Essentially, what occurs is that multiple people want to be in the position to offer insight, approve the final project, determine the direction of the campaign, and participate in the creation of the actual content. The problem is that trying to incorporate too many people into the marketing process can actually negatively impact the efficiency with which the campaign is implemented together with the ultimate effectiveness of your company’s efforts. Even more unfortunate is that often the “too many cooks” problem occurs in response to hard times at the company, a time when everyone is desperate to see the company’s efforts succeed.

How to manage this problem

We recommend two primary ways to address this common problem. The first is to develop clear processes that will ensure everyone feels comfortable with the final product. The second part of the formula for success is to optimize communication so that no one person or department feels out of the loop. Let’s discuss both of these in a little more detail.

A reliable process

We have found over our many years in the marketing business that a reliable process can be a big step towards consistent success. A process clarifies everyone’s role, assures that no important steps will be skipped, and enables everyone in the company to better predict the time and investment each project will entail. At our agency, the process goes something like this:

1. Meet with client on project

2. Open a job to track the progress of the project

3. Conduct a creative meeting along with a review of the creative brief, if required

4. Present a quote to the client and a realistic estimate as to when the project will be completed

5. Account Executive presents creative work to the client for approval

6. Account executive or production manager reviews client revisions with creative team

7. Upon client approval, final proofreading takes place

8. After the project has been proofread and any corrections made, a final deliverable is ready to send to the client, a printer, or a publication.

There are very few projects that progress through our agency without going through this step-by-step process. Following these steps helps us make sure everything in regards to the project is in order and that everyone is on the same page. This same kind of process can work if you are part of a company’s internal marketing team. Simply replace “client” with whomever you need to interface with for approval.

The process that you establish for your marketing projects will not only determine the path that concepts take through your company but will also establish who is responsible for what aspects of the campaign. Who will handle the copywriting? Who will handle the design? Who will interface with the person in charge of the project? Establishing these guidelines upfront eliminates the problem of “too many cooks” while also clarifying for all parties what the expectations of them will be.

Effective Communication

Keeping everyone in your company up-to-date on how a marketing project is going can alleviate a lot of the pressure people feel to insert themselves into the process. This means there also needs to be an effective way to make sure everyone feels they are being heard, even if their ideas are not ultimately accepted. As an agency, we are cognizant of the fact that a lot of companies feel agencies do not really listen to them, so we provide constant feedback to our clients about how we are using or perhaps adapting their ideas on any given project.

How you maximize the effectiveness of communication in your process will be based in large part either on your own company’s culture or on the culture of the company with whom you are working if work in an agency. If you know that most people are not sitting at their desks for most of the day, email communication may not be the best way to go. Standing meetings, Google Plus hangouts, or even private Facebook groups could be the ticket.

You will also need to make sure that communication around projects does not become combative. The desire for project ownership can make some people react inappropriately to “push-back” on their ideas. Know the people with whom you are dealing and do your best, if you are managing the project, to accommodate everyone.

A proven process and effective communication work together to make everyone involved feel like they have a say and a specific role to play. This will maximize your marketing efficiency and effectiveness while also eliminating the “too many cooks” problem. It’s a win-win-win scenario!

Image Credit: via Creative Commons