Standardization: A first step to scaling and growing your business.
Here is how you can standardize your marketing operations before scaling your business
For any business today, a key component to success is how you promote your products and content.
It’s important to create efficient, results-driven marketing and advertising strategy, especially if your product will be sold through multiple channels or internationally.
Standardization is the process by which a company makes its methods and processes uniform throughout its organization.
It is the logical systems put in place to streamline every process in your workday.
Rather than taking each situation as it arises, you react according to a set list of instructions and protocols.
The goal is to make sure every action taken generates a proven business result and because having different approaches to various situations in a company ultimately translates into a lack of control.
Standardization in companies is meant to achieve cost saving, increased customer satisfaction and improve competitiveness no matter the channel used or country of purchase.
A good example of a company that uses standardization in marketing is Coca-Cola and while large corporations with multiple branches lead the way in standardizing, even small business can benefit from following basic standard procedures.
Standardizing in Marketing
Standardizing has been used for years in manufacturing, operations, finance, human resource, even in sales mainly for consistency and efficiency.
But this has not been widely adopted in marketing yet.
However, as competition increases, the need for companies to improve performance while reducing costs is now driving demand for more automated marketing operations and even more detailed analytics.
If you’ve been ignoring standardization, it’s time to pay close attention.
In marketing, standardization can be applied to:
- System and we are going to look at all these in detail below.
Here are four key areas marketers should start standardizing:
Data standardization is the process of transforming data taken from different sources and various formats into a consistent format.
Standardizing your data fixes inconsistent capitalization, punctuation, acronyms, non-alphanumeric characters, and values in the wrong fields.
Any differences in data formats, rules and collection methods could result in misrepresentations, introducing systematic analytics errors that can negatively affect your business’s success.
Here is why you should think about standardizing your data;
- The major purpose of data standardization is to make data consistent and clear that anyone in your organization can access and utilize it in their operations.
- It is the first step to ensure that your data is able to be shared across your organization.
- Standardization makes it easier to identify issues and outliers in your data, and speed up the time it takes for you to get actionable insights from your data.
- Data standardization is how companies are able to more quickly compare and contrast the value of leads, lead sources, marketing assets, marketing tools, Ad costs, etc with greater accuracy to better inform decisions and provide clear forecasts.
The need for data standardization has grown exponentially as data sources in marketing become more and more diverse, with multiple advertising, marketing and selling channels.
Marketing data collected across different channels like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Medium, Linkedin, is often compiled in different formats depending on its source or marketing campaign.
And of course, all these channels are generating data about different things or the same thing slightly different.
Facebook shows you how many likes your post received, Twitter shows you retweets, Linkedin also has likes while Medium shows you the number of claps your post has received.
At the end of the day, this is all user engagement and it may all seem fine but for marketers, the analysis goes further than that.
Let’s take conversion attribution as an example;
Facebook will give you a number, Adwords will give you a number, Groupon will also give you a number, all of those numbers are overlapping with each other, so you are grossly over counting your conversions, which in time ruins literally everything measurement in your company.
In the end, however data-driven you are, you will never make good business decisions because your data was corrupted before analysis
So for any marketing operation, it’s important to identify the data to be collected and how it will be collected.
If the campaign is to generate new for leads from one or two other channels, then clearly define what data is to be collected for a prospect to be regarded as a lead whichever channel used.
Something as simple as not standardizing data adds not only a layer of complexity and manual effort to manage.
Often time, results in loss of valuable prospect data, a perfectly good lead becomes discarded simply because of data standardization issues.
This represents the most important area of standardization.
Metrics essentially provide a scorecard for marketers and other business stakeholders on what to measure and how to measure it.
However metrics are determined, they should start with agreed-upon definitions.
For example, the characteristics of an inquiry, lead, opportunity, or sales qualified lead (SQL) should all be outlined in advance.
Once identified, these metrics will ensure successful measurement across various sources, channels, and assets.
Without them, it’s impossible to properly evaluate results to identify successes and failures.
Process standardization describes the establishment of a set of rules governing how people in an organization are supposed to complete a given task or sequence of tasks.
These don’t even have to be rules, protocols or instructions as most of you fear, a standardized process could be “best way” to complete a given task like creating and promoting company content, running effective facebook ads or answering a customer queries.
Imagine if your support staff had no set guidelines for handling a ticket. It would be like you pulled in a group of random people from the street, sat them down at the helpdesk, and expected to see a job well done.
Process standards define the steps taken by someone or a group in your company to accomplish a given marketing operation/task to achieve expected results.
There are many business reasons for standardizing processes including:
- Operational efficiency
- Reduction of deviations
- Higher Productivity & Output
- Ability to scale
- Easier Process Improvement
- Easier Onboarding and outsourcing
- Improves clarity
- Guarantees quality
- Perfects customer service
McDonald’s is a good example of how a large corporation has standardized processes to an extent where most of the creative energies of the organization are spent in finding solutions to core business issues like product development, driving growth and marketing.
When McDonald’s opens a new restaurant they carefully replicate the standardized concept, including standardized processes. The new manager of the new restaurant never considers “building from scratch” because there is a process that achieves results the company is happy with. The same applies to new employee training.
How To Standardize Business Processes?
Business process standardization is a 2-step process.
First, you find what the best way of carrying out the process is.
This means that out all of the ways the process is done, you need to find the one that’s the cheapest, fastest and creates the most value. While it’s rare to find something that does all three, the best process tends to be pretty easy to spot.
Based on your selected process, set key metrics to help measure and compare performance, these could be CAC, Revenue, ROI.
Then, you need to ensure that your entire organization is aware of the best practice, how to measure it’s performance and actually follows it. This part can be harder unless you employ the standardized systems as well
Keep in mind that,
A standardized process can be a blessing or it can be a nightmare. Standardized processes help standardize results, minimize deviations, achieve scale and accelerate learning.
But if you standardize when standardization does not add value your process becomes plain waste. In any case, your processes define your brand.
4. Tools and Systems
It’s not unusual for companies to create marketing campaigns, only to discover that either their processes or tools (or both) cannot generate the data they need.
But with standardized data comes the ability to connect marketing systems that automate standardized processes, eliminating manual, human errors and precious time.
To plug into marketing technologies that allow the business to adapt to evolving customer expectations, marketers need to build upon scalable, open marketing platforms.
Rather than limit the organization to a single vendor, it is best to choose a few core providers, set standards and build around them.
Point to consider.
Expanding into different tools and marketing channels is easy but the analytics requirements that come with running this managing an expanded marketing strategy isn’t.
Simply because most of the marketing platforms and tools used don’t allow for deep integration of the analytics and data reporting.
In the end, you up with a lot of vanity metrics from different platforms to track and optimize for and that’s how most lose their sight on that big ROI picture.
When done correctly, putting standards in place can increase your bottom line by a surprising amount.
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