We live in a world where it is easier than ever before for businesses, large and small, to get their products and services approved by the government. But what does this mean for you as a marketer? What can you do with this newfound power? And how will this change your business model?
The marketing approval process is the lifeblood of any business. It allows you to quickly and efficiently approve marketing materials, which helps to create a consistent brand image for your company. The process also ensures that all new materials are compliant with applicable laws and regulations. This article is intended to serve as a guide for marketers who want to learn how to market their products or services.
Understanding the Marketing Approval Process
Definition and Purpose
What is the marketing approval process? Typically a marketing approval process is a series of steps that are taken to ensure that your marketing materials meet the standards and guidelines set by your business.
The purpose of the marketing approval process is to ensure that products or services being introduced to the market are safe, effective, and meet the necessary quality standards. The process aims to protect consumers from potentially harmful or ineffective products and promotes public health and safety.
Key stakeholders involved in the process
The key stakeholders involved in the marketing approval process may vary depending on the industry and region, but here are some common stakeholders:
Marketing and Advertising Teams:
These are the teams responsible for creating and developing the content. They work closely with other stakeholders to ensure the content aligns with the brand’s messaging, objectives, and regulatory requirements.
Legal and Compliance Departments:
These departments play a crucial role in reviewing and approving the content from a legal and regulatory standpoint. They ensure that the content complies with relevant laws, regulations, industry guidelines, and advertising standards.
Brand or product managers are responsible for overseeing the marketing strategy and ensuring that the content accurately represents the brand’s image and positioning. They provide input and guidance to the marketing and advertising teams throughout the approval process.
Copywriters and Designers:
These individuals create the actual content, including text, visuals, and multimedia elements. They work closely with the marketing team and legal/compliance departments to ensure the content is accurate, clear, and compliant.
In cases where advertising agencies or creative agencies are involved, they collaborate with the marketing team to develop content that effectively communicates the brand message and meets regulatory requirements.
Quality Assurance/Quality Control Teams:
These teams are responsible for conducting internal reviews and checks to ensure the content meets quality standards, adheres to brand guidelines, and complies with regulatory requirements.
Step-by-Step Guide to the Marketing Approval Process
1. Define the marketing materials requiring approval
Identify the specific types of marketing materials required for approval that includes advertisements, promotional videos, social media posts, website content, email campaigns, print materials, or any other content that represents the brand and its messaging.
Establish the scope and criteria for approval. Determine what aspects of the content will be reviewed and approved, such as accuracy, compliance with regulations, adherence to brand guidelines, tone of voice, design elements, or any other specific requirements. Clearly define the expectations for each type of content to ensure a consistent and thorough review process.
2. Establishing the approval workflow
Now it’s important to identify the stakeholders in the approval process and define their roles and responsibilities. This includes individuals or departments from marketing, legal/compliance, brand management, creative teams, and any other relevant parties. Determine who has the authority to provide approvals at each stage and specify any specific requirements or expertise needed for certain types of content.
After identifying and assigning responsibilities to relevant stakeholders, you need to map out the approval stages and decision points. This is important in establishing the approval workflow. This could include an initial review, legal compliance check, brand alignment review, final approval, and any other necessary steps specific to your organization or industry. Consider the sequence in which different stakeholders need to review the content and identify any dependencies or handoffs between stages.
Additionally, establish clear timelines and deadlines for each stage to ensure efficient progress throughout the approval workflow. Communicate the expectations and responsibilities to all stakeholders involved in the process, providing clarity on their roles and when their input is required.
3. Implement marketing approval software
Implementing marketing approval software can be beneficial in several ways. Some potential benefits include:
- Centralized platform: Marketing approval software provides a centralized platform where all stakeholders can access, review, and collaborate on content in real time. It eliminates the need for manual sharing of files and streamlines communication.
- Workflow automation: Software tools can automate the routing and tracking of content for approvals, ensuring that it moves smoothly through the workflow. This saves time and reduces the risk of content getting stuck or delayed.
- Version control and audit trail: Marketing approval software often includes version control features that help track revisions and maintain a clear history of changes. This enables easy reference and ensures compliance with regulatory requirements.
- Collaboration and feedback management: Software tools facilitate collaboration and feedback collection, allowing stakeholders to provide comments, suggestions, or revisions directly within the platform. It simplifies the feedback process and ensures all feedback is captured in one place.
Before settling for a tool, research and evaluate different approval tools available in the market. You need to consider several factors such as ease of use, integration, scalability, pricing, customer support, etc before settling for one. Compare multiple vendors to find a solution that best fits your organization’s specific needs and budget.
Here are some of the popular tools:
Cflow is a powerful workflow automation tool that proves to be the best when it comes to marketing approval process optimization, documentation management capabilities, and collaboration.
Wrike is a versatile project management software that includes marketing approval features. It allows you to create customized workflows, manage tasks, and track approvals. Wrike offers real-time collaboration, document sharing, and visual timelines for effective project management.
Workfront, now part of Adobe Experience Cloud, is a robust work management platform that includes marketing approval features. It enables teams to manage projects, track approvals, and collaborate on marketing content. Workfront offers workflow automation, customizable templates, and integration with other Adobe tools.
JotForm is a versatile online form builder that can be utilized for marketing approval processes. It allows you to create customized approval forms and workflows, collect feedback, and manage approval requests. JotForm offers easy-to-use form-building capabilities, and collaboration features, and integrates with various applications for seamless data management.
Once you have selected a marketing approval software, set up and configure the software to align with your approval process and requirements. This may involve creating user accounts and roles, defining workflows, customizing approval stages, and integrating the software with other relevant tools or systems used in your organization.
Ensure that the software is properly configured to match your organization’s approval hierarchy, decision points, and any specific criteria or compliance requirements. Train relevant stakeholders on how to use the software effectively and provide ongoing support as needed.
4. Develop a marketing approval process template
Establishing a standardized marketing approval process template is essential to ensure compliance, accuracy, and brand consistency. Here are some basic elements to be included in a marketing approval process template:
– Marketing team members or stakeholders submit a request for marketing materials approval.
– Required information for submission:
– Type of marketing material (e.g., brochure, website content, social media post)
– Target audience
– Desired launch date
– Supporting documents or references, if applicable
– The marketing approval team or designated reviewer receives the request.
– The reviewer assesses the completeness of the request and checks if it aligns with the company’s marketing guidelines, legal requirements, and branding standards.
– Incomplete or non-compliant requests are returned to the submitter for revision and resubmission.
– The content of the marketing material is thoroughly reviewed for accuracy, clarity, grammar, and spelling.
– The reviewer ensures that the content adheres to regulatory and legal requirements, such as product claims, disclaimers, and copyright laws.
– Any necessary changes or recommendations are communicated back to the submitter for revision.
Legal and Compliance Review:
– The marketing material is reviewed by the legal and compliance team to ensure adherence to applicable laws, regulations, and industry standards.
– Legal disclaimers, intellectual property rights, data privacy, and any other legal considerations are assessed.
– The legal and compliance team provides feedback and guidance to the submitter for any required modifications.
Design and Branding Review:
– If the marketing material involves design elements, the design team reviews it for visual appeal, branding consistency, and overall aesthetics.
– Design elements may include logos, colors, typography, images, and layout.
– Feedback is provided to the submitter, and design changes are made as necessary.
– Once all reviews are completed, the marketing approval team evaluates the revised marketing material against the initial request.
– The team ensures that all feedback and modifications have been appropriately addressed.
– If the marketing material meets all requirements, it is approved for use.
Notification and Distribution:
– The submitter is notified of the approval and provided with the final version of the marketing material.
– The marketing material is distributed to the appropriate channels or stakeholders for further action (e.g., printing, website publishing, social media scheduling).
– All approved marketing materials, along with their corresponding requests and any related feedback, are documented and archived for future reference.
– This record serves as a reference for auditing, tracking changes, and maintaining a historical log of marketing activities.
Note: This template can be customized to fit the specific needs and processes of your organization.
Moreover, Cflow offers predefined templates for marketing and sales such as
- Newsletter Approval Process
- Press Release Approval Process
- Travel Request
- E-commerce Order Tracking
- Business Enquiry
- Blog Content Review
- Sales Incentive Claim
- Marketing Collateral Review
- Sales Discount Approval
These templates are completely customizable to your needs and also you can create a new approval form or a workflow template easily from scratch using Cflow’s workflow capabilities.
5. Streamline the review and feedback process
To streamline the review and feedback process in your marketing approval process, you can implement the following strategies:
- Define specific timelines and turnaround times for each stage of the approval process.
- Communicate these timelines to all stakeholders involved in the process.
- Implement a project management or collaboration tool that enables efficient communication and document sharing among team members.
- Use tools like Cflow, Asana, Trello, or project management systems with integrated messaging features.
- Provide clear guidelines to reviewers and approvers on how to provide feedback effectively.
- Use a standardized feedback template or form to structure feedback and ensure important aspects are addressed.
- Encourage reviewers to provide specific and actionable feedback, highlighting areas of improvement or required changes.
- Utilize automation tools and technology to streamline repetitive tasks and automate notifications or reminders for pending approvals.
- Implement version control mechanisms to track changes made during the review and revision process.
- Use tools like Google Docs, Microsoft Office, or cloud-based collaboration platforms that support real-time editing and version history.
- Periodically review the marketing approval process to identify bottlenecks, delays, or areas for improvement.
- Collect feedback from stakeholders involved in the process to gather insights and suggestions.
- Analyze data and metrics and incorporate the learnings and feedback into process updates to continuously improve the review and feedback process.
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6. Ensure compliance and legal review
To ensure compliance and legal review in your marketing approval process, follow these steps. First, work with your legal and compliance team to identify the specific legal and regulatory requirements that marketing materials must adhere to. This includes laws, regulations, industry guidelines, and internal policies that govern your marketing activities. Make sure all stakeholders are aware of these requirements.
Next, incorporate legal and compliance review as a dedicated stage within your marketing approval process. Assign reviewers from the legal and compliance team to assess marketing materials for adherence to the identified requirements. Clearly communicate expectations and deliverables to both the submitter and reviewers. Provide guidelines or checklists to assist reviewers in conducting their reviews effectively.
During the legal and compliance review, if any non-compliance issues or necessary revisions are identified, provide clear and actionable feedback to the submitter. Explain the reasons for the required changes and any potential risks or consequences of non-compliance.
Collaborate with the submitter to address these issues, revise the marketing materials, and ensure compliance. Encourage open communication between the legal and compliance team, submitter, and other stakeholders involved.
It’s important to document each legal and compliance review conducted for marketing materials. Keep a record of the feedback provided, revisions made, and final approvals granted. Use a centralized system or software like Cflow to track the status and progress of legal and compliance reviews for each request. This documentation serves as evidence of compliance efforts and can be valuable during audits or regulatory inspections.
7. Final approval and distribution
In the final approval and distribution stage of the marketing approval process, you can follow these steps. First, finalize the content of the marketing materials after receiving all necessary approvals. Review the materials one last time to ensure that all feedback and revisions have been incorporated. Check for accuracy, compliance with legal requirements, and adherence to branding guidelines. Look for any errors, inconsistencies, or formatting issues that need to be addressed.
Next, ensure proper distribution and tracking of the approved materials. Determine the appropriate channels and platforms for distributing the materials. Coordinate with relevant teams or individuals responsible for executing the distribution, such as the marketing team, designers, or social media managers.
Finally, archive the approved content for future reference. Maintain a centralized repository or archive of all approved marketing materials. Organize the materials based on relevant criteria, such as campaign name, launch date, or content type.
Make sure the archive is easily accessible to authorized personnel whenever needed, such as for compliance audits or reference purposes. Regularly update the archive with newly approved materials and remove outdated or expired content to keep it up to date.
Use Cflow to Enhance Your Marketing Approval Process
Cflow is a workflow automation tool that can optimize marketing approval processes which in turn helps streamline the review and feedback process. It allows you to create a marketing approval process template, which is then used by every team member involved in the approval process. This ensures that there’s consistency across all departments and services, with each person reviewing or approving content at their respective level of responsibility.
Cflow can also function as an efficient Content Management System (CMS) and here is how:
- Cflow can serve as a repository for approved marketing materials. Store documents, images, videos, and other content within Cflow and categorize them based on campaigns, types, or other relevant criteria.
- With version control capabilities, Cflow allows you to track and manage different versions of marketing materials. You can easily access previous versions and compare changes made during the approval process.
- Cflow allows you to define user roles and access permissions to ensure that only authorized individuals can view, edit, or download marketing materials. This helps maintain security and control over sensitive content.
- Cflow can integrate with other systems or platforms used in marketing, such as content publishing tools, social media management platforms, or analytics tools. This enables seamless content distribution and data exchange.
In conclusion, a well-defined and streamlined marketing approval process is crucial for ensuring the efficient and effective creation, review, and distribution of marketing materials. Our step-by-step guide will help you establish a structured approach that helps to minimize delays, improve collaboration, maintain compliance, and uphold brand integrity.
However, to truly enhance efficiency, reduce manual effort, and improve collaboration, leveraging a workflow automation tool like Cflow can be highly beneficial. With Cflow, organizations can significantly improve the speed, accuracy, and transparency of their marketing approval processes, enabling teams to focus on delivering impactful marketing campaigns while ensuring compliance and brand consistency.
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