small business

A Comprehensive Guide on How to Streamline Your Small Business Marketing Workflow

A small business owner discussing how to streamline their marketing workflows with employees

Marketing can get pretty hectic for any type of business. And, not having a well-organized workflow can not only cause team members to lose focus but also strain relationships among employees.

For small businesses, it’s vital to create a simple and efficient workflow to keep things running smoothly without adding unnecessary costs and delays that could put the business at risk.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to streamline your small business marketing workflow and make sure it stays effective. 

Let’s get started.

  1. What is a marketing workflow?
  2. How to decide what needs streamlining?
  3. 4 ways to streamline your marketing workflow
  4. Marketing workflow tools
  5. Example: Content Marketing Workflow

A. What is a marketing workflow?

Think of it as a set of well-defined steps that you go through to complete a marketing task. These steps become a routine that guides you in getting the job done efficiently.

Chances are, you might already have some workflows for marketing in place without even realizing it. For instance, if you find yourself repeatedly doing certain tasks to execute your marketing projects, that’s essentially a marketing workflow in action.

It could be as simple as regularly sending out similar emails or making the rounds with your business card, ensuring your prospects have your contact details.

Let’s look at it from another angle if you’re still unsure. These workflows tend to have the following defining features:

1. Logic

It’s crucial for workflows to be logical and sensible. If they come across as confusing, impractical, or counterproductive, it’s likely to leave your team feeling uncertain.

In cases where you’ve included a step that might appear odd but has a hidden purpose, it’s smart to share the reasoning behind it. This way, you can ensure that the entire team understands and supports the workflow.

2. Visibility

It’s essential to have a marketing plan that everyone on your team can easily follow, without relying solely on your guidance. Instructions should be clear and straightforward. If a step involves, let’s say, creating social media posts, ensure that the team member responsible has all the guidance they need.

When launching new marketing projects, start by walking your team through the marketing plan and ensuring everyone understands the big picture and their specific role in achieving your marketing goals. 

As the marketing plan becomes second nature, you won’t need to do this for every project, but it’s crucial for new team members to get this orientation.

3. Scalability

A marketing plan that can’t cope with a certain amount of change is not going to be of much use going forward. There should be an inbuilt capacity to change and incorporate, for instance, developments in tech or trends in the market.

Clearly, a marketing plan isn’t going to be able to survive all changes — there are going to be times when you’ll need to jettison a previously functional plan and start over with a new one. But it’s helpful and economical not to have to do this too often.

As you set about streamlining your marketing plan, it’s crucial that you don’t lose sight of these three characteristics along the way. 

Now, let’s see how you choose where to start pruning.

B. How to decide what needs streamlining?

A small business owner trying to figure out which marketing workflows need streamlining

It’s sometimes tempting to go in with a powerful brief of cutting out the fat, and performing swingeing cuts everywhere in order to meet the objective. Hold on there, Captain Choppy!

You need to approach this task with a clear and calm head, as the last thing you want to be doing is to end up cutting out the good stuff along with the bad.

Here are a few steps that you can follow:

1. Get back to basics

Take a step back and review what the intended result is in order to streamline your small business marketing workflow. Take input from participants, from the marketing manager down. Break the workflow down into its component steps and assess what those steps actually do in terms of achieving the overall goal.

2. Spot inefficiencies

Do the steps that you’ve analyzed propel your marketing efforts along with efficacy or are they inefficient? Does it involve too many substeps and too many parties? Are unnecessary costs and delays racking up as a result?

3. Set clear goals

Clarify what the goal for each of these steps should be. You need to compile a list of desired outcomes for each step. These might be faster output, reduced cost, or better communication between marketing team members.

4. Prioritise your workflows

Now, you should work out which of the identified sub-optimal workflows you’ll tackle first. You do this by deciding on the relative importance of each. The key workflows are usually the ones that require the most immediate attention.

However, some argue that it’s the easiest fix you should deploy first. This is because they will give quick results and provide momentum to go ahead with far wider rectifying work.

C. 4 ways to streamline your marketing workflow

There are several methods you can adopt to make your workflow for marketing look a little trimmer. Here are a few general techniques:

1. Automation

Often cited as a cure for all business ills, automation is not actually a universal solution, but it can definitely help here. 

Wherever you’ve got repeated steps, just as you do with a marketing workflow, you can usually automate. So, if you have regular emails going out that tend to follow roughly the same pattern, you can employ a marketing workflow automation software to create and send.

For a small business, this can be especially helpful, as you’ll be looking at a reduced workforce spend. This is always a crucial concern for organizations with less finance to throw around.

Tip: Jump to our comprehensive blog on how a small business can automate its key processes and enhance its overall efficiency.

2. Look at duplication

If it seems to be the case that two or more parties of the team are doing similar or even identical processes, this is a prime candidate for some streamlining. 

For example, let’s say two parties are performing similar data analysis, or they’re both engaged in finding local influencers for your marketing campaigns.

Either way, see how you can incorporate the two related activities into one workflow, and save on the payroll. Again, it is especially important for a smaller business to keep the staff spending tight.

3. Project management

Once you’ve stripped the workflow of inessential aspects, you should ensure that everybody sticks to the new streamlined routine, otherwise, you’ve just wasted your time. 

A good project/ workflow management tool will help with this, in that it helps you to monitor exactly who’s doing what, in real time. This helps prevent scheduling conflicts and makes things a whole lot smoother.

4. Data management

As we mentioned before, a workflow needs to be able to flex to embrace any developments that may impact its operation. 
You can keep abreast of such developments by being able to analyze data as it comes in, giving you a timely and accurate picture of what’s happening out there for you to base any workflow tweaks on.

D. Marketing workflow tools 

There are several workflow streamlining tools you can use for your marketing processes, which can perform one or more of the techniques outlined above. Some of these will be on-site packages and some cloud-based services.

Such marketing softwares include Salesforce Pardot (which automates steps for lead generation), Hootsuite (which allows social media managers to conduct numerous social media campaigns and channels from one workstation), and Mailchimp (which assists with email marketing campaigns). 
Small businesses can also use scheduling tools like Appointy to automate their daily tasks, manage business operations, and streamline their marketing activities.

E. Let’s try to understand streamlining better

Consider a small business that primarily functions on content marketing. The trouble is, this marketing task is costing the company a lot in terms of staff time. 

If the company decides to streamline its content marketing workflow, then it needs to break the process down into its component steps.

A good deal of content marketing involves several back-and-forths between the content generators and the team responsible for identifying the target audience and marketing. For instance:

  • The content team identifies their target audience by researching extensively and drawing buyer personas.
  • Based on the market requirements, the team works up campaign themes and content ideas.
  • Lines up the content asset, like blog posts, social media posts, etc.
  • Approvals are sought from the third party involved.
  • The content is revised as necessary.
  • The content is published. 
  • The engagement and conversion rate analysis is performed.

To streamline this process, it’s important to analyze each step to see how it contributes to the overall marketing goal — getting effective content out in an efficient manner. 

It may be the case that the interaction between the two parties can be reduced to a single exchange, especially if buyer personas tend to be the same with most campaigns.

It may also help if content follows certain agreed principles, which will reduce the need for approval by another element in the organization. Lastly, the targeting, scheduling, and analysis can all be automated, cutting the amount of staff time spent on the project.

Streamlining your way to great results!

A small business can’t afford much in the way of waste. So it’s crucial to administer whatever cuts are necessary to processes in order to make them as efficient as they can be.

Automation is clearly a major help in the streamlining of workflows, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all. Also, think carefully about duplication and how you can use tools to help you manage your teams to the best effect.

As with much in business, and indeed in life, the secret to success lies in using a range of techniques. Knowing how to employ them effectively in your small business will deliver the streamlining that over-complicated marketing workflows are crying out for.

About Appointy

We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, and resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium businesses face every day. 

If you have any thoughts on this blog or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below. 

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