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5 reasons why your marketing might cost more than you think

Regardless of staying inside creative, media, production, programming, and fulfilment budgets

In this article we will try to look under the hood to reveal some hidden costs and reasons why marketing projects can fail to achieve the maxim of “Quality, delivered on time and to budget”.

1. Unclear expectations

Different expectations that were not properly communicated early in the process can derail a project until everyone’s expectations are met. These delays have a significant impact on ‘time to market’.

Remedy: It is essential that all the stakeholder expectations are documented, that they are agreed upon upfront, they are reasonable and that they form the blueprint for the delivery.

2. Too much rush

Rush has become the norm. Rushing increases the risk that important details will be missed and that quality will suffer. Less time does not mean less cost. When you pay more to get less you depreciate your marketing investment.

Remedy: Rush may be unavoidable. But the stakeholders need to be flexible, to either spread or focus resources within the timeline. Workload that can be shared should be spread across the group. Specialized tasks should be handed to those with that capability. Be sure to relieve them of distractions so that they can focus on those critical tasks. It takes a collective responsibility to make sure that rush projects receive the care and attention they need to succeed.

3. Process-driven to distraction

Too much process can also drive up cost and reduce efficiency. Rush projects should not be decapitated by too much bureaucracy. Larger projects that involve more stakeholders need more process, checks and balances, but the stakeholders are not always familiar with the rules.

Remedy: Don’t apply one process map to all projects. Prepare a fast-track and an optimal process for project management, to engage each situation efficiently. Make sure that the stakeholders understand the scope and nature of the project they are undertaking and how it affects the organization so they can learn and benefit from the process instead of being bogged down by it.

4. No thought to the financial cost of delay

Most organizations equate the ‘cost of delay’ with ‘loss of potential revenue’. In fact it goes much deeper.

Use a simple equation: Divide your labour cost for each project by its timeline to calculate your cost per day of delay. Then add it to your budget for the project after final delivery to see the true cost. For example, $100,000 over 10 months, if the work continues to the 11th month you have just invested an additional $10,000 to that project and lost 1 month of potential revenue.

Your agency is also affected when paid per-project. Your agency anticipates its revenue according to the project period. Delays will affect its cash-flow even if no additional work is done. If your agency is on a retainer you could actually be paying them a bonus for your delay. These are also hidden costs to add to the equation.

When you can’t achieve your objectives within the time and resources allocated, other projects in the pipeline get deferred, stacked, or are given less attention than they need. Agencies and clients feel these effects, but they don’t usually monetize the impact on their bottom line.

Remedy: The solution is to track this and then review at appropriate intervals. When you start to measure the cost of delay and discuss their implications it brings your team closer to understand how to maximize efficiency in the future to become more productive with less effort. When you have a good audit trail to measure you might consider using bonuses as an incentive for meeting performance expectations.

5. Getting it right; but not first time

How much effort does it take to get creative that is on-strategy, and then push it to final approval? If the creative and content is not in alignment, progress can be painfully slow and require multiple revisions to get what you need. If your agency demands too much of your time to get final approval, add this to the cost of your marketing investment.

Remedy: The greatest efficiency is where all agencies are in tune with the needs of the business, with only fine-tuning required at each stage of review. If you are not achieving this then it is time to either review your team or review your agency.

Conclusion

It may require some time and some careful crafting to build a marketing engine that flows smoothly through your department and your external agencies, but the productivity rewards makes it worthwhile to build. If you are not tracking these intangible costs you won’t know which changes could reduce your overall cost of marketing.

Hydrogen Creative believes in producing the right creative, first time. We engage fluid processes to enable more success at less cost. Engage us to experience the difference and see how well we stand by these beliefs.

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Jon Sherrington

Owner, Strategist, Writer – Hydrogen Creative Inc.

May 1996 – Present

My role is to provide strategic marketing guidance to clients to ensure their objectives are attainable, remain in focus and the communications solutions work.

My expertise is in how to realign goals-oriented brands, products, services or businesses to customer values to build loyalty, frequency and continuity.