State of Brand Management Tools 2024

What is a Marketing Approval Process: How to Set Up Review and Approval Processes

Are you looking to set up a marketing approval process for your organization? Wondering what such a process should look like?

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It’s one of the biggest challenges in our work, isn’t it? Sometimes there are just too many people involved in the process. No matter what you do, every project seems to drag on forever. 

The good news is that the solution is simple. It takes some work to implement it, but it’s well worth the effort. 

What’s that solution? A strong marketing approval process defines how you and everyone involved review each project. 

This guide will show you exactly how to set up such a process in your marketing workflow. 

So, let’s take it from the top. 

What is a Marketing Approval Process?

The term – marketing approval process – refers to the strategy used to ensure consistency across all marketing assets. 

The process helps coordinate all stakeholders in any marketing project and ensures that their collaboration runs smoothly. 

But the marketing approval process goes beyond just overseeing the approvals of various content assets. It becomes a repository that content creators, graphic designers, writers, editors, stakeholders, and even the executive team can use to review the history of asset modifications, sign-offs, feedback, comments, and more. 

In short, it’s the central hub showing everything that’s been happening with a particular content project, from its conception to the final sign-off. 

But that’s also where companies encounter a major problem with the process. 

Because you see, you can define the best marketing approval process, but it will fail unless you use the right solution to implement and manage it. (Luckily, more on this and the best solution to use in just a moment.)

What are the elements of a typical marketing approval process?

FACT: An approval workflow may seem simple at first. It seems that you’d just need to define who and when should review and sign-off various content assets, and you’re done.

Unfortunately, there’s more to it than this. First of all, you need to identify all stages of the content creation process within your organization. 

Here are the most common ones. 

But note, you have to define them for your company and perhaps expand the list with additional steps you include in your production process. 

In general, however, a typical content creation process includes these five stages:

  • Briefing – This is where relevant stakeholders define the scope of the project,
  • Assets collection focuses on collecting everything that’s needed to deliver the finished piece of content,
  • An initial draft that’s nothing else but the first iteration of the completed project,
  • Revisions of the draft to perfect it, and
  • The final draft and having the content approved.

But why do you need to identify what the process looks like for your company? The answer is simple – Because each of those stages requires an individual sign-off and approval. This means they become the central points of the entire marketing approval process. 

NOTE: There might be additional review steps for various stages. 

For example, various drafts might require approval from the legal team. You might need to collect feedback and approvals from subject matter experts in the company, an insight from another marketing team, if there is one, or have the content reviewed by the executive team, and so on. 

(Needless to say, these are also often the steps that cause delays with project approvals. Identifying and defining processes for them will immediately remove those bottlenecks.)

Other considerations for defining a marketing approval process

So far, we’ve defined steps in the content production process and the additional approvals that you might potentially require. To create a solid marketing approval process, you need to also consider the following factors:

  • All the stakeholders involved in developing the content. The list should also include people who do not create content but participate in the review process, like the executive team, marketing managers, social media managers, legal teams, etc. 
  • Types of content that you produce and individual processes you use to create them. 
  • Subject matter experts that you involve in the content creation.
  • Who has the final approval for each project type. 
  • Typical project timelines. 
  • The content workflow in each stage of the content production.
  • What software do you use to deliver various elements of the project. Particularly, you need to verify whether the package integrates with the approval process software.)

Now, with all that information at hand, you can build a marketing approval process for your company. 

Here’s how to do it. 

4 Steps to Develop a Solid Marketing Approval Process

If you’ve collected all the information above, then most of the heavy lifting is behind you. 

To define the approval process, you now need to organize that information to define how and when various stakeholders will be reviewing content at the different stages of its production. 

We recommend you do that in 4 steps. 

#1. Identify which stages of the process need review

Much of the information required to develop this process revolves around content production. You’ve defined all the stages of the content creation process and any additional elements that might affect it. 

Now, it’s time to use it to define when exactly you need to seek approvals. 

For example, you may need two approvals in the briefing stage:

  • The first one approves the idea and gives the project the green light. 
  • The other reviews the actual brief and project objectives. 

That said, simpler projects might merge those two stages into one, and so on. 

TIP: You can also split those approvals into internal (i.e., those that only require a review by the content creation team) and external (those that require external stakeholders – like the executive team – to approve the content.)

#2. Identify key reviewers for each stage

This is a relatively simple step as you already have a list of every stakeholder. So, in this step, you just need to define who is responsible for approvals, when, and whether they have the final say or not. 

You can do it very simply by marking each reviewer on the list and defining which stage of the process they’re responsible for.

#3. Alight the approval process with key approval stages

This is where you bring it all together. You already have the content production process defined and key reviewers selected. Now, you need to merge the two. To do so, simply include each review stage in the content development process. 

Using our example of the briefing stage above, your new content development process should also define when briefs need to be reviewed and by whom. 

What we also recommend is to create decision checklists. These documents can provide more clarity to reviewers, outlining what they should be looking for when evaluating content at different stages. 

Some additional things to consider:

  • How to prioritize projects that occur simultaneously and, therefore, may need reviews at the same time. 
  • Content permissions. It’s a good idea to define who can see content at different stages of the development, even if only to reduce the possibility of receiving additional, unsolicited feedback. 
  • Timelines and deadlines for providing approvals. Sometimes projects get held up just because someone failed to provide their feedback on time. But at the same time, unless you’ve defined timeliness, the person might not have been aware that they’re holding the project up. Defining deadlines for feedback will greatly expedite the process and lead to fewer delays.

TIP: You can also create feedback reminders in your online proofing software to remind reviewers about the deadline. 

#4. Set up online proofing software to manage the process

FACT: Software is one of the process’s central and most important elements. It’s practically impossible to manage it manually, after all. And so, as the last step, you need to implement a dedicated online proofing solution. 

For example, CELUM, our online proofing platform, delivers all the functionality you need to accelerate content approvals and manage the approval process. 

With CELUM, you can:

  • Set up the entire marketing approval process, 
  • Collect and manage feedback across the entire content production process, 
  • Use advanced markup tools to annotate different file formats, including images and videos.
  • Use the Kanban board to manage the entire process, 
  • Compare revisions and see the entire change history per file, 
  • Access all content marketing assets from one centralized location, 
  • And more.

Want to streamline your approval process?

Try out CELUM – the complete review and approval software. 

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