Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Manual for Marketing
Importance of SOPs in Marketing
Marketing is not as easy and charming as it appears from the outside because at the end of the day it has to be able to generate demand, convert it into sales, and bring home business and customers. And to do so, apart from developing marketing strategies and plans, marketing function also needs to execute a host of operational activities like events and campaigns, advertising, digital marketing, content management, budgeting, marketing planning and control, etc. And each of these needs to be carried out as per plans. There is a need to lay down the operational roadmaps for all these activities. And the right solution is SOPs for a better marketing management process.
Campaign and Event Management
A marketing campaign is a set of promotional activities conducted by businesses to establish or enhance brand awareness. A marketing campaign includes an array of activities like advertisements on various digital and physical platforms, demonstrations, participation in trade fairs, interactive meets with customers and stakeholders, promotional events in prominent market areas or corporate locations, event sponsorships, PPC activities, etc.
Any marketing campaign is a strategic and organized effort and usually spans over weeks or even months. For a campaign to be successful it needs to be planned and implemented with precision. It involves multiple promotional activities and timelines, people with different roles and responsibilities, logistical coordination, managing finances, etc. There is a need to keep a marketing campaign as one manageable unit. SOP is the thread that could bind an entire campaign with an interrelated but diverse set of activities happening in different timelines.
Similar to campaigns, event marketing is also carried out by companies with specific goals which may or may not contribute to a bigger campaign. Events are usually narrower in scope as compared to campaigns but their objectives are similar – to improve brand awareness, promote products and services, customer engagement, etc.
Every SOP will act as an operational roadmap for the concerned team or individual in charge. SOPs will also ensure that there are checks and balances at critical junctures to significantly reduce the chances of omission and mistakes in a marketing campaign or an event marketing process.
Organizing and streamlining the Marketing Calendar
A marketing calendar is the planning and schedule of all the marketing activities to be undertaken by a company over a given period which can be yearly, quarterly, or monthly or even weekly.
Every activity in a marketing calendar should be mapped using SOP. For example, an event can be mapped with details like when it will be initiated, event location, people involved and their responsibilities, reporting mechanism, inter-departmental coordination, coordination with vendors and suppliers, logistics, etc.
When every marketing event and activity in a marketing calendar is planned and mapped using SOP, the execution part becomes simpler. Everyone involved will know in advance what needs to be done and when.
Budgeting, Tracking and ROI
You simply cannot just keep pouring money into your marketing efforts without getting a healthy ROI from them. That’s why your marketing budget and your actual spending on marketing activities needs to be tracked. This tracking is extremely important as the marketing team has to keep a tab on the actual spending so as it does not cross the budgeted amount allotted for any marketing activity.
With SOPs in place, this tracking gets easier with checkpoints. A stricter cash outflow can be maintained with tracking in place. When the spending overshoots, brakes can be applied or budgeting can be reviewed or funds and efforts can be diverted to channels with higher ROI.
Like any other department of a company, the marketing department too has a wide range of activities within its domain. There are planning and strategy, budgeting, promotion, business development, sales, customer support, website/app maintenance, vendor management, etc.
There is a way to go about each of the aforementioned activities or operations. Even the apex body of a company cannot escape the order in which tasks are ought to get done. For example, for new product development planning, few relevant requirements are who will be a part of this planning process, what considerations they are supposed to put forward, what kind of research reports and data analytics are required, what will be the timelines for the product development, who are the different stakeholders involved, etc. All these activities could be mapped and streamlined using SOPs. Everyone involved in this process will know what they are supposed to do and accomplish at given timelines over a given period.
With the growing dominance of digital appetite among people all over the world, digital marketing has turned out to be an effective promotional medium for businesses. Within the confines of digital marketing, the competition is for visibility, outreach, engagement and conversion on search engines, social media platforms, radio, television, websites, smartphone applications, etc. With multiple platforms, a hurdle is keeping all the platform activities as one comprehensive and manageable force.
At the operational level, SOP can be used to create a digital marketing workflow. This will set the bigger picture right for you and your team. Once this workflow is established then it becomes easier to allocate responsibility areas like SEO, SEM, social media engagement, content creation, email marketing, analytics, blogs and articles, etc.
With SOPs, any business can get organized and streamline their digital marketing function. For example, if you are running with a smaller team, tasks can be divided based on their nature and the task procedure be mapped with timelines. If you have a numerical edge with manpower resources, you can have separate SOPs for each platform.
More specifically a part of online marketing, content marketing has evolved to be a big armament in the arsenal of digital marketing. And when we say content, it is shapeless. It could be advertisement copy for social media or hoardings and banners, blogs and articles, press releases, short-format videos, copy for print ads, etc. Each type of content development involves a unique approach and procedure. Then there are different campaigns for different objectives with a multitude of content types with different timelines with overlapping roles and responsibilities.
In such a scenario, it becomes pertinent for a business enterprise to organize and streamline its content marketing process. With predefined roadmaps (SOPs) from content development to content distribution, businesses can easily get a grip over how it leverages content to its maximum benefit. Whether it is routine content activities or campaigns and events, with SOP-driven content marketing workflow at its disposal, businesses are always ready to go.
Benefits of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
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