CMOs and marketing teams are directly accountable for producing revenue and providing measurable business value — both of which are driven by customer creation and retention. While working with marketing customers to identify roadblocks, gaps and points of inefficiency, I find that marketers are incredibly diligent about cultivating and honing prospect data once it’s inside their marketing systems, especially using lead nurturing and predictive lead scoring systems. However, they all seem to neglect inefficiencies and opportunities to improve the media investment process — specifically, the ways in which they interact with the media partners who distribute their content to generate and transmit prospect data.
Media partner relations is vital part of the marketing process. And overlooking such crucial initial steps in the customer creation process seems counterintuitive, but it happens all the time, and is even understandable. Here’s why.Media and the process of media buying are often disconnected from marketing. This is largely because brands (especially in the B2B world) have traditionally handed off media (and media partner relations) to be managed by siloed demand-gen teams or agency associates. In general, marketing is far more focused on and adept at cultivating customer data with marketing automation and CRM systems that are designed specifically to nurture, score and track customer engagement through the buying cycle. As a result, marketers largely neglect the initial prospect/customer data acquisition process and the media partner operations that enable it.
Such neglect and lack of focus on media partner management has two primary consequences:
- A bottleneck in the initial stage of the marketing process that negatively affects all aspects of marketing performance, from prospect acquisition to customer close
- A waste of precious marketing resources manually handling simple, tedious tasks required to enable media partner management and fully utilize prospect data
Whether you’re working with 10, 20 or 50+ media partners or placing your bets on just a few, valuable time and resources are invested in tedious tasks wrought with potential for human error. This front-end process of media partner management requires identifying, selecting and onboarding partners, back-and-forth communications to work out campaign parameters, dealing with IOs, accounting and paperwork, providing and managing dynamic creative assets, and aggregating and consolidating numerous reports for analysis and optimization. Manual efforts such as these undermine marketers’ decision-making speed (as they wait for data) and the ability to leverage actionable insights to capitalize on opportunities.
Examining current capabilities
Identifying and understanding inefficiencies and opportunities for improvement regarding media partner interactions can lead to big gains in data quality, lead velocity and overall return on media investment. An optimal media partner management operation should include:
- Browsing, comparing and identifying potential media partners from a single platform
- Onboarding proven media partners to the platform quickly and at any time
- Creating and sending one IO for all partners, and tracking from one ledger
- Housing, organizing and distributing creative assets among partners by specific assignment; better yet, enabling partners to access the creative in the Cloud
- Automating the process by which partner-generated customer data is uploaded to marketing automation and CRM systems via API integrations
- Obtaining real-time reports and analytics on each media partner’s performance, individually and in aggregate
- Optimizing allocation to partners automatically based on tracked performance or manually with a single click
Opening the bottleneck and regaining marketing resources
In the digital era, speed is critical. Circumstances change within hours, if not minutes. Centralizing media partners into a single platform and automating the processes of partner management increases the data (and lead) velocity while also providing a more holistic view of media investment — leading to better marketing performance. Also, it facilitates integration with the marketing “stack,” which in turn further increases the transmission of data and the ability to use marketing automation and CRM systems to optimize prospect information gained from your investment with media partners.
Automating media partner operations also frees valuable resources to be used for more strategic purposes. Paying skilled marketing pros or agency partners to manually coordinate numerous media partner relationships is like taking time off from work to forage for wood to heat your home — your salary far exceeds the costs of heating fuel, and the marketing pro’s labor is far more valuable than the costs of media partner management software. It doesn’t make sense to pay people to consolidate spreadsheets, chase creative/assets or email numerous media partners the same RFP when this could be automated, allowing talented individuals to concentrate on skill-oriented projects.
These are just a couple of the problems I’ve come across with regard to managing a slew of media partners. The good news is that these issues are easily solved by first identifying inefficiencies and gaps, and then automating and integrating media with marketing systems wherever possible.