Avoid counterproductive marketing meetings

Meetings are often seen as necessary evils, marketing meetings or otherwise. People dread them, complain about them, and avoid them. However, it doesn’t have to be that way, which is good because in-person meetings are the single best way to communicate.

Technology can facilitate meetings, but the most effective ones are face-to-face meetings where everyone’s body language is visible regardless of how their WiFi is functioning right then and eye contact is actually possible. Team members can more easily riff off of one another and learn more about each other’s personalities. Spontaneous conversations are also more likely to happen in those few minutes before the meeting starts or afterward.

All this being said, the solution we’re about to share can be used in live or virtual meetings and your whole organization can benefit from better meetings, so can the bottom line.

Our solution to prevent any meeting from becoming counterproductive and unengaging is to make sure everyone knows why they’re at the meeting and what’s expected of them while they’re there. We propose doing this through well developed individual competencies. When people know what they need to do and they have the skills and resources to do it, they are more likely to do it successfully. That leads to more productive meetings, more engaged teams, and better business outcomes.

UMS has four competencies that need to collaborate across the four phases of establishing a unified marketing system in your organization. Using these competencies when they’re needed helps everyone contribute to the meeting more meaningfully, reduces friction between team members, reduces the amount of time your team spends in meetings by making each minute more productive, and eliminates unintended redundancies or gaps in meetings and projects, which all saves time.

Here’s a link to our online diagnostic tool to help you understand where your team’s strengths lie and which competencies might need to be shored up. 

Envision

This competency in leadership includes the ability to craft a mission, set clear objectives, and drive the high-level strategy and budgeting process.

Envisioning in marketing meetings requires the ability to see the big picture, understand how the various parts of the organization and project fit together, give clear guidance as needed, and keep everyone focused on what exactly needs to be accomplished.

Direct

This competency in management and administration includes the ability to align team members, create project plans, foster accountability, curate progress, and run excellent marketing meetings.

Typically, someone using the direct competency will need to be organized, communicate well with people at all levels in the organization, help the team overcome obstacles, and advocate for their team within the larger organization.

Evaluate

This competency in analysis includes the ability to gather customer insights and points of validation for those insights. It also requires the ability to process data and financial models and assist in decision-making and editing.

Marketing Analysts and others are relied on for critical thinking skills and ability to distinguish a valuable insight from a distraction. They need to be able to look at a potential path forward, see potential pitfalls, determine the path’s viability, and identify possible improvements or where improvements might be needed.

Execute

This is a competency in finishing, which includes the ability to complete effective creative launch-and-adjust campaigns, nurture leads, and close sales.

When using the execute competency, team members need to be creative, knowledgeable about what it’ll take to achieve the desired outcome, and, ideally, driven to see the task completed. They may also need the autonomy to decide how to complete the task. Someone who’s good at executing doesn’t need to be micromanaged.

Implementing the UMS competencies

Before implementing these competencies, evaluate how this approach would fit with how you and your organization currently handle meetings.

  • Have they been pretty free-form without much structure?
  • Are the agendas realistic and well-planned? Non-existent? Impromptu?
  • What’s going well?
  • What keeps your meetings from being the most productive they could be?
  • Why do you think a new approach might be necessary?

Have this conversation with your team to discover insights into what they think, show them their opinions are valuable, and gain their support for any changes. If that doesn’t seem like something your team would be up for, first consider why that is, and then start by talking to individual team members you think would be most interested or talking to other leaders.

Implementing this approach to avoiding counterproductive meetings could start with one project or a recurring meeting, like a weekly staff meeting. Think of that as a pilot and observe how it works for your team. Then build from there. Or you could run a meeting that’s a role playing exercise where team members each take on a competency to practice with during the meeting. Afterward, talk about how their experiences were different from the usual meeting. 

How you implement it is up to you. The point is to increase the transparency of what you expect from team members during meetings. When people don’t know what to do, they take their best guess, do what their last leader wanted them to do, or take cues from other people in the room – all of which could turn out fine or contribute to creating counterproductive marketing meetings. Your team’s time and energy are too valuable to leave this to chance.

Parting thoughts

Aside from meetings and projects, these competencies can be used for your team’s professional development. Here are two ideas to get you started.

  • A team member would like to work their way into a leadership role. You look at their current level of ability in the relevant competencies and help them improve where needed.
  • Another team member isn’t sure what they want their next step to be. They identify which competencies they enjoy the most through self-reflection and/or you give them opportunities to try out the ones they aren’t as familiar with but may be unknowingly very good at.

The discussion of these competencies alone is valuable. Talk about the various roles in your organization, how they currently contribute, and how their contribution could be improved. Is each role structured appropriately? Do the roles fit with your team’s individual strengths? How would you like the roles to fit together?

Be strategic and intentional about who does what and why they do it. That’ll allow your team members to flourish unencumbered by structural conflicts or confusion, which is good for more than just your marketing meetings.

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