Proofing materials for accuracy or brand compliance may not be the most exciting part of a Marketer’s job, but it’s essential if you want to preserve your brand, ensure content is correct and – if you work in a regulated sector – avoid regulatory compliance breaches.
If you want to produce new communications and marketing materials on time and to budget, optimising your reviews and approvals is a key step. In this blog, we share tips and best practices for a robust and efficient creative review process.
The importance of a well-oiled review and sign-off process
No matter what type of collateral or content you’re producing, thorough reviews are vital. This applies whether you’re publishing hard-copy materials, like brochures or flyers or, increasingly likely in today’s era of online content marketing, webpages, digital adverts, blog posts or lead nurturing emails.
If you’ve worked on a project, it can be invaluable to ask a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ to look over it, to pick up any errors or brand inconsistencies you may have missed. And of course, it’s mandatory for regulated firms, where approval from the Compliance team can be a requirement before materials are published.
But all too often, the review process can be an admin-heavy, labour-intensive and frustrating one. One that hinders your ability to get materials to market quickly and creates endless paper trails. Hopefully, our 6 suggestions for improving your creative review process will help.1. Develop consistent processes for all materials. Remember that, when it comes to FCA compliance, you need to display the same rigour no matter what format your promotion takes. The Financial Conduct Authority’s financial promotions rules apply equally whether you are producing a social media post or a whitepaper.
And in fact, even if you’re not regulated by the FCA or other industry regulator, in the UK the Advertising Standards Authority rules are also platform-neutral, so wherever you’re advertising, you need to follow the same guidelines.
2. Take back control. You can only review and approve content you’re aware of, after all.
This can be especially challenging in certain sectors – professional services firms, for instance, where lawyers, consultants and advisers often develop their own promotional literature, only involving the Marketing team in the later stages.
If this sounds familiar, read our blog on how to work out whether your financial promotions are out of control and what to do about it. The good news is that, if this is a challenge you face, you can put in a few fairly simple steps to enhance your digital asset management.
3. Think about how best to share the collateral being reviewed. Many firms still rely on email or hard copies, with edits being collated by – usually – a member of the Marketing team. This can cause issues with version control – but if you avoid concurrent reviewing in an attempt to prevent this, you can slow the process down.
An online approvals system can make edits visible to all, with different reviewers able to make changes simultaneously. By allowing you to drag and drop or upload files ready for review and approval, you can speed the process and ensure that only the most up-to-date versions are shared. Our blog on how Marketers can collaborate effectively has more on the best ways to manage reviews across teams and locations.
4. However you manage your review process, make sure you involve the right people. If you’re regulated, your Compliance team will be a must-have for this list. Other reviewers will be less prescribed; your firm structure and the nature of the project in question will dictate who gets involved. And remember that different pieces of collateral may need different groups of people on the reviewing team.
5. Set a clear process for managing changes. You know who is going to be involved, and how you will share the documents for review. Next, put in place some best practices for tracking the changes you make.
How do you want people to add comments? What measures do you have in place to make sure everyone is adding to the latest version of the file? How should people share their edits – via email, in hard copy, onto an internal online platform, or into an automated marketing system?
Then there are the subjective elements. How do you handle changes that are questions or suggestions, rather than straightforward typos or branding slip-ups? How do you handle two changes that conflict with each other? Concurrent reviewing can remove many of these issues, with your reviewers able to see and discuss the latest changes in real time.
6. Remember, it’s not just about the end result. If you’re governed by the FCA, you need to be mindful of the need for scrupulous record-keeping; if required, you need to be able to evidence an audit trail of the review process your materials have been through.
This can be particularly important in the event of a regulatory breach, enabling you to demonstrate that any failing was a one-off, rather than the result of a procedural flaw.
Develop a more efficient review process with a more robust output
Hopefully, these tips will inspire you to tweak your own creative review process. Make it as efficient and robust as it can be, and approvals will no longer be an admin-heavy chore but a way to collaborate effortlessly with colleagues to produce the best content possible.
When it comes to creating efficient processes, we’re big believers in checklists. A checklist can remove guesswork and inconsistency, making vital stages essential and ensuring you don’t miss any crucial tick-boxes.
If a checklist would help to make your approvals process more robust, you can download a copy of our Financial Promotions Checklist for Marketing. It’s free, and you can find a copy in our resource library.
Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.