Plan, to enable agility. It might not surprise you that this is one of our core values since facilitating growth for organizations involves so many moving parts. So how exactly do we plan to enable agility? We roadmap. Whether for operations, sales, marketing, or any other shared service, roadmapping allows us to stay agile, and the story of our marketing roadmap shows just that.
What is the marketing roadmap?
The marketing roadmap is a constantly evolving document that outlines and explains everything we are able to work on as a marketing team, from introduction of a client to transition out of an engagement. It includes processes, external resources, and worksheets to aid in creating deliverables.
Our marketing roadmap currently consists of a 6-part process, from initial engagement to wrap-up:
- Due Diligence
- Product/service overview, discovery, market & competitor research, industry trends
- Outcome: Competitive analysis and industry brief
- Make Decisions
- Positioning & strategy, brand value & story, brand voice & messaging, creative brief, creative assets
- Outcome: Brand brief
- Content strategy, content mapping
- Outcome: Editorial calendar
- Brand Activation
- Goals & KPIs, must-have deliverables for core brand activation (i.e. a website or pitch deck), deliverables beyond core brand activation (i.e. promotional videos), outbound marketing & sales
- Outcome: Marketing collateral
- Email marketing data, website analytics, and other trackable data reporting
- Outcome: Data points for additional decision making
- Transition & Maintenance
- Organization of deliverables, website, and debriefing process so that partner can continue process independently
- Outcome: ASG transitions ownership fully to partner
Why did we develop the marketing roadmap?
We’re a busy team, and we work on many brands simultaneously, many of which have different team leads, scopes, and deliverables.
Not only did we want to clearly communicate our processes and deliverables and set expectations for working alongside the rest of our coworkers, but we wanted to clearly communicate our offering as a team.
In addition to being a vehicle for sharing knowledge, this was a great way to increase efficiency too. Having a structured and documented marketing process makes it much harder to make the same mistake twice. Once we learn from a project, any changes in process and best practices that may come from it go in the marketing roadmap.
Lastly, this has become a great library from which to share processes and expectations with clients or communicate to other audiences the way in which we work.
How is the marketing roadmap meant to be used?
For our coworkers, we like to describe the marketing roadmap as a great place for context. Each section explains everything we think about before approaching a task. So if you know the context, working with our team becomes much easier. For example, if we’re building a website, we will touch on each piece of due diligence mentioned in that section before jumping in. Our coworkers then have a better idea of what is expected from them, what can be expected from us, and what the process on the whole will look like.
The marketing roadmap also makes the onboarding process and project kick-off much simpler. Since the roadmap generally encompasses everything we do, this serves as a great introduction to our team.
How was the marketing roadmap developed?
- Recognition: We realized we needed to improve how we were managing marketing projects and interacting with project leads, so why not use this opportunity to step back and question the whole process?
- Goal Identification: We wrote down our goals for each part of the roadmap so they could be referred to each step of the way.
- Individual Research: We chose to research and create processes for accomplishing the identified goals individually but debrief as a group. This took away the possibility for group think and resulted in a diverse pool of ideas from which to work.
- Brainstorming Meetings: With that said, once we had our thoughts organized we had to come together as a group and work through all of our ideas. When there was a point of confusion or conflicting ideas, we referred back to our original goals for guidance.
- Repeat Steps 3 & 4: Split off for individual research and come back as a group to debrief as many times as necessary. Once we felt we were unable to make any meaningful improvements, we moved on.
- Gather Feedback: Does this make sense? What’s missing? We talked to people on other teams who have different skills and perspectives. We worked closely with project teams and sales leads to confirm that the marketing roadmap fit with their needs and processes.
- Refine and Edit: We revisit the document regularly as we work through projects and make continual adjustments based on our experience.
What lessons did we learn?
We’ve learned a lot, and we’re still learning from this process. As we continue to share it with others, we collect more feedback and further tweak sections. As we take on new clients or are met with new challenges, we have to be disciplined about debriefing after each project and making sure lessons learned are reflected in the roadmap. So far, there have been 3 key takeaways from this process.
Lesson #1: Due diligence is always first priority.
The first section, and the most important, is due diligence. While the rest of the roadmap is flexible depending on the partner, due diligence has to happen for everyone. Without it, the rest of the roadmap is not built upon a solid foundation.
Our due diligence section is broken out into the below categories:
- Product/Service Overview
- Client/Company Discovery
- Market/Competitive Research
- User Personas
- SWOT Analysis
- Buying Cycle
- Industry Trends & Future-Proofing
If you decide to develop a roadmap within your team, always start with due diligence. Your process may look different than ours, but either way, you’ll have a great foundation from which to grow.
Lesson #2: Embrace new situations, pivot, repeat.
The roadmap has shown us the importance of doing because when it comes down to it, this document is about doing, not just planning. The opportunity to tweak and refine doesn’t ever arrive unless you actually try out your plan. That means a willingness to jump into new situations has to become habitual; and flexibility makes it a lot easier. Be open to new ideas, try something different, learn from it, then do it even better the next time. Our roadmap is in no way the “end all be all.” Things will happen that we can’t use the roadmap to solve, and we might even learn that we need to make fundamental changes to our processes. That’s all part of it though – constantly tweaking and evolving through learning experience after learning experience.
Lesson #3: Self-awareness is the root of improvement.
No matter what type of team you’re a part of, there is always room for improvement. There could be room for improved collaboration, clearer expectations amongst individuals, or better resources. Make time to zoom out and look at your team from a higher-level perspective. I promise you’ll find at least one thing that can stand to be optimized. Then, start brainstorming. Dig through resources and seek out answers. Try something for a few weeks, identify KPIs, and see how it works.
For our team, this roadmap was the result of self-awareness, that we were doing a lot and needed to figure out how to manage it efficiently. So start questioning everything you do. Push yourself to learn more about what’s out there and how it can apply to you. Then get roadmapping.