State of Marketing Work Q&A with Joe Staples & Matt Heinz

December 8, 2016 Marcus Varner

Last month, Workfront partnered with Target Marketing for a wide-ranging webinar on the state of marketing work, featuring Workfront CMO Joe Staples and Matt Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing. Due to the large volume of questions submitted for the Q&A section of the webinar, Joe and Matt weren’t able to respond to all of them during the webinar. Below, for the benefit of webinar attendees (and anyone else who wants to eavesdrop), they’ve provided their answers to all of the remaining questions. Enjoy!

Question: I get behind schedule all the time when a project is out for approval for a week, while I anticipate getting it back in 2 days. What is an appropriate turnaround time for approval on a proof?

Matt Heinz: Timing really depends on the depth and complexity of what is required, but more important is having a common understanding and definition of what turnaround time will be, so that it can be built into your workback schedules.  Sometimes rush jobs are required but those should be defined as well.

Joe Staples: I agree. The people waiting on approvals should never arbitrarily assign turnaround times. It’s going to be much more effective if both parties agree on a turnaround time before a project even begins. This gains the approver’s buy-in from the beginning and also lets you hold them accountable to keep their word. It’s can also be useful to get them to agree to an “if-then” condition: if they don’t review the project within, say, five days, then you can move forward with the project.

Question: How do you construct a successful marketing program when the company has always only relied on face-to-face relationships and cold calls from the sales team?

Matt Heinz: Build a case that shows marketing can make the whole process more efficient and cost-effective. Ideally, a marketing program allows for greater sales yield, lower acquisition costs and greater predictability/scalability of sales efforts. Build a simple model that demonstrates (or at least projects) what that improvement will look like.

Joe Staples: As with most things in growing companies, this almost always comes down to a proof of concept. People looking to build a marketing program in an environment like this will want to find their minimum viable product—the cheapest, fastest, lowest-risk way for them to prove that marketing can get warm leads into Sales’ hands in less time and with less strain on resources. This will depend on the company—it might be a bare bones text ad campaign, for instance.


Question: How do we communicate to CMOs that not all of their meetings are valuable?

Matt Heinz: That is a tough task! Make it a constructive conversation, start first with your mutual desire to increase productivity and efficiency across the company. Perhaps start with your own meetings, requiring an agenda in advance and limiting attendees to those who will actively participate (those who simply need a summary can read the meeting notes afterward). Use your own meetings as a proof of concept to encourage others in your department (including the CMO) to change their ways as well!

Joe Staples: We CMOs love the thrill of gathering the troops for a solid brainstorming session or good pep talk, but we never want to feel like we’re wasting the time of our precious resources. When it comes down to it, CMOs are most concerned with empowering their marketers to get more done in the time they have. If you’re concerned that your CMO is regularly pulling you into less-than-valuable meetings, I would recommend that you approach the topic from the productivity angle. They’re much less likely to have their egos bruised, and more motivated to work out a solution.



Question: Meetings and email seem like a necessary part of doing business. How can you “just say no” to them in order to focus more on your day job?

Matt Heinz: Know precisely what you need to do, every day, to accomplish your objectives. Do those first! It can sometimes be that simple. Prioritize your priority tasks over email, and even meetings. Keep in mind as well that not every email needs to be answered, and not every meeting needs to be attended!

Joe Staples: Meetings and emails have become inextricably woven into work as we know it. For years to come, they will and should continue to be a part of our professional lives. But meetings and email aren’t always the answer to communication challenges. It’s like when you’ve picked up the kids from soccer practice late and everyone’s hungry and you know that, if you wait until you get home to make dinner, you’re not going to eat until 8pm. So you stop at Del Taco, even though it’s obviously not the healthy or tasty choice. You turn to it again and again until it becomes a habit. That’s a lot like how we use email and meetings. The solution then is to recognize when we’re using meetings or emails unproductively and stop it.


Question: What’s the best way to set up—and enforce—work processes?

Matt Heinz: Establish the end-goal up front. Process for the sake of process doesn’t really help anybody. However, if people understand and commit to why they need that process in the first place—what the end result should be—it makes commitment to the process easier to follow.

Joe Staples: I would add that your work processes should be based on your team’s real world experience and the environment in which they operate. Among our customers, when we help them set up an ideal work process, our consultants first observe what they’re doing now, what’s working, and where things are getting stuck. They ask questions about where their current practices originated and why they exist. Only after this step do they move forward with recommending changes. And regarding enforcement, our consultants push for two big must-haves when they start new processes: executive sponsorship and the ability to say ‘no’. You need to be able to tell requesters that they need to abide by the process or you can’t work on their request, and then you need someone at the top to be willing to back you up when requesters throw the occasional fit.



Question: I’d blame “open offices” for a lot of the interruptions in the workplace. How do you recommend finding focus in that kind of environment?

Matt Heinz: Headphones, for one. If you truly need to focus, find a separate work place—an empty conference room, an open desk in another department—so you can focus on what needs done.

Joe Staples: Long term, it never hurts to let leadership know how your open office environment is affecting your productivity. They hate to hear that workers are getting less done than they could be. In the short term, however, reserving a meeting room or taking advantage of your company’s working from home or flex time policies might help you find that solitude you need to perform at your best.


Question: I try to get my team involved to make them feel included, with meetings, etc., but when is it too much involvement?

Matt Heinz: In too many companies, being in a meeting equates to being important. If you’re in a meeting and not contributing, just read the summary afterward. If you’re in a meeting and checking your email instead of paying attention, you shouldn’t be there! Establish a culture of accountability and trust, so that people are only involved in meetings, conversations, email threads, etc. when necessary to get the job done. Everyone will appreciate being involved in fewer conversations, fewer distractions, to get their own jobs done!

Joe Staples: Here, I would go back to your core goal: you want your team members to feel like they’re in the loop. A high-spirited brainstorm or kickoff meeting can create a ton of enthusiasm around a campaign or project; in these instances, the in-person nature of meetings can’t be beat. But the vast majority of communication—probably around 90% of project communication— on any given project or campaign doesn’t benefit in any way from having everyone in one room together. This communication can happen digitally in a PM solution or collaboration tool without losing that “in-the-loop” feeling that you’re going for. They can feel part of your team’s communication and without being pulled away from their actual work.

To get Matt and Joe’s presentation in full, watch the webinar below:

About the Author

Marcus Varner

Marcus is a content strategist and producer who loves helping brands craft content that improves customers' lives, builds brand credibility, and demands to be shared. For the last 10 years, Marcus has worked in every type of content—from writing to video production to design—and is currently a senior content marketing manager at Workfront, where he oversees all corporate- and awareness-level level content. When he's not producing content, he's consuming it, in the form of books, movies, and podcasts.

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