So, you’re in marketing and your remit is to improve the profitability, the response rate or, if you’re operating in a non-profit organisation or charity, the positive engagement with your brand. In order to achieve all that, you also have a duty—to yourself—to sleep well at night.
And sleeping well at night is very much aided by:
fewer risks in your business
more tangible visibility of opportunities to improve
less volatility in your working partners
less gambling, more planning
Let’s talk about continuous improvement. You may have seen elsewhere on the site that we talk a lot about being the continuous improvement agency.
Well, it certainly sounds positive, but in relation to what? And what does that actually mean for our clients?
So, first let’s tackle the comparative.
What’s the traditional agency approach?
As a client, you are probably approaching your agency to work on a particular project. It could be a new website build, an integrated marketing campaign or something even more specific such as a paid social media campaign, targeting a particular section of your audience. The creative process plays out, the work is completed and we look at the results. In the aforementioned cases, that will be:
a shiny new website, hopefully with appropriate redirects, improved SEO and increased visitor numbers and conversion
more people visiting your site or stores, buying your product or service
an uplift in positive activity from the section of people you’re currently targeting
There may of course be some phase two (or even three) improvements planned in. At the very least, you, as a fee-paying client, should expect a project wash-up. What went well? What can we improve? What next?
The ‘What next?’ is the crucial part for us. Marketing agencies are an eager bunch; very keen to say they can do this and of course, yeah they can do all that, too.
Your marketing plan should not be seen as a calendar filled with ad hoc activities, on the one hand with increasing profitability as the goal, but on the other hand, not building on previous activity. In other words, not lurching from one marketing push to another without joining the dots or learning from experience—no matter how successful any one of those activities could have been. Because with the right data and holistic view, the activity could not only be even more successful, it could be an ongoing success. In addition, you could see other areas you could exploit.
So what do we mean by continuous improvement?
Whilst we haven’t come across other marketing agencies positioning themselves as such, ‘continuous improvement’ is not something we, as an agency have coined or invented. It’s something that is not only embedded in our working days, it is indeed, a general term—and indeed, a tried, tested and trusted method which has already been in existence in business for quite some time. Google and Wiki generally agree that continuous improvement is:
the ongoing improvement of processes, services or products through incremental and breakthrough improvements. These efforts can achieve incremental gains over time or breakthrough improvement all at once.
Obviously, there are different takes on the definition and indeed the principles behind it. Before we decided that being a continuous improvement agency was absolutely the right path to take for our clients, we looked at the wealth of principles behind and determined the following were our driving factors:
The 5 principles behind continuous improvement that guide Creode’s approach to work
Sounds a little boring, right? Well, that might be because we’re not talking about taking pot shots in the dark and seeing what screams out. We’re talking incremental changes, here. Not revolutions that require upheaval. Not major metamorphosis needing nothing less than magic. This is essential to our thinking because the idea is not to destabilise your marketing approach—or even your department—but to implement achievable changes across your marketing touchpoints that all add up to making a larger, positive difference.
And because we’re not talking major strategic shifts or larger budget requirements, we are definitely talking about reaching success quicker.
What’s the biggest asset in your marketing department? At Creode, it’s our people. They are the individuals who can effect change not only in your brand’s, and indeed, your own success, but in the agency’s and their own personal and professional success. And whilst the continuous improvement approach relies on people to identify and implement opportunities, we prefer to think of spinning that thought on its head; because improvements are incremental and, as mentioned above, don’t require major budgetary or strategic overhauls, the whole team, not just senior thinkers, can get—and should be—involved.
This bottom-up thinking is more effective because it’s often our team, our account managers, our devs and our creatives who are closest to the coal face and better-equipped to spot opportunities for improvements to our clients’ brand touch points. And because they can—and do—effect positive change, they are bought into the process. Massively.
And that empowerment is great news for the agency, but more importantly great news for our clients.
Effecting change is seen as hard. There are perceived hoops to jump through, budgets to overcome and even the notion that ‘it’s the way we’ve always done things’ that can be a barrier. But when you have the engagement and empowerment, and people can see incremental improvements rolled out from anyone in the team, effecting change not only becomes easier, it inspires more open dialogue, action and ownership throughout more individuals in the group.
Furthermore, they become more invested in the results of the changes, and our agency not only knows where the ownership lies, but our clients know where the accountability lies for different areas of their project or marketing plan.
In the spirit of open dialogue, I’ll make a challenge to the idea of positive change: it really is not enough to just make a change and say it’s an improvement. With roots in direct marketing, I’m bound to say this, but real success lies in the measurability of that change. Or more precisely, the ability to measure the impact of that change. When you have this it’s possible to see if that change can be scaled or applied to other areas or platforms. And if so, who knows what you can achieve with your marketing plan, your site’s conversion rate or that ppc campaign you currently have running.
Which leads nicely into our 5th principle …
It’s called continuous improvement for a reason; the ability to measure impact gives you the power not only to identify if it can be used elsewhere but also repeated, time and again. Whether that improvement is being measured by software, human analysis or a combination, the impact you’ve measured, gives you the ability—and the confidence—to not only implement further improvements in the same area but also identify other areas. In the context of the efforts of marketing departments, those areas are many and varied, from the bigger picture of marketing plans themselves to uncovering what’s working in marketing campaigns and to the minutiae of testing microcopy on a form page of your website.
The opportunities are huge.
And talking of huge opportunities, why not talk to Creode today—we’re the continuous improvement agency that wants to optimise your brand performance—and your career.
Read our post on what the benefits of working with the continuous improvement agency are to clients who work in marketing.