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Process is about people

Working without clarity is a life skill for many of us in marketing. But should it be?


Certainty often brings efficiency: certainty of goals, deliverables, and resources. To achieve this certainty, many design, writing, and marketing teams implement processes like creative briefs.

While they can seem restricting and cold, processes are a product of teams wanting to deliver great work to their colleagues. As well as quality, processes may exist to protect the executing team from unrealistic workloads.

This is why processes are undoubtedly all about people.


Outside the marketing department, here are 3 situations where we all benefit from a clear process:


1. Returns policies

Buying presents for others? It’s worth considering policies before gifting clothes, as the process behind returning them can be cumbersome.


When I worked in retail, we had clear definitions for what can be returned and why. This process protects those working in retail from fraudsters and protects the buyers from shoddy quality. For example, a coat might be expected to last 6 months of constant use, and wear-and-tear beyond a button or two coming loose is not acceptable quality. Therefore, a shop might accept returns of coats from their autumn line right into May or June. However, a T-shirt at a tenth of the value, might not be expected to last more than 5 washes, or 5 weeks without the price tag still attached.

2. Dissatisfied diners

If you eat out at chain restaurants with multiple locations, there are often guidelines that staff need to follow in the case of a complaint or special request.


Waiting tables some time ago, we were told that any client with a complaint could, as standard, be told “your after-dinner coffee’s on the house” because it’s a low-cost concession to make. If this offering did not suffice, the approval process for a discounted bill needed to be set in motion.

Chain restaurants especially have their own process for quickly appeasing clients, because they see the same challenges every day. They develop mechanisms that minimize stress for their workers and keep clients happy. So, know that a kindly-delivered complaint to a server can quickly jump-start a process to solve your complaint, without the need to bring a floor manager out.



3. Supermarket re-orgs

A "people element" to supermarket processes is for ease of shelf stacking. To help staff around peak eating seasons, some shelves will be stocked with empty packaging and only a few true products, because this is easier than re-configuring an aisle.


All of the above are situations we encounter outside of work and especially during the holiday season. However, our own colleagues also have processes that help us receive a better-finished product.

So the next time someone imposes a process on you that seems cumbersome, ask them what the process achieves:

  • Does it help you get closer to your true goal?

  • Is that team trying to align your request with company goals in order to prioritise it?

  • Was the process implemented to prevent burnout in the actioning team?

Alternatively, if someone is reluctant to adopt your process, or unwilling to allow time for your process to play out, gift them an explanation of its raison d’être: it ensures they receive quality and likely protects the executing team’s sanity! Because process is all about the people it helps.


How to implement processes in writing and creative marketing teams


  1. First of all, hire well - hire once.

  2. Train your team early, using best practices.

  3. Equip them with creative processes.


Need more help implementing processes that will speed up and improve quality of your content output? Consider hiring a professional with both a creative mindset and experience implementing structure, such as your own fractional Chief Writing Offer.

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