Nailing Down Your Design-to-Martech Handoff: A Guide for Tech Marketing Managers
November 22, 2023
In the everyday battle of the common technology marketer, the ability to efficiently deliver marketing assets is not just a convenience—it's a critical component of success. Many of our customers find themselves bottlenecked by the lack of an internal well-documented or systematized process for asset delivery. This oversight can lead to significant delays, confusion, and ultimately, a slower time-to-market for vital marketing campaigns. But for those who have this figured out, it can be the difference between making it to dinner or working all night!
Building a robust system for asset delivery, though initially demanding in terms of time and resources, pays off immensely in the long run. Once established, these systems ensure a smooth, repeatable process that minimizes errors and maximizes productivity.
For your technical teams, particularly, the benefits are substantial. Clear instructions, easy access to essential documents like copy docs and links, and detailed documentation on design specifics (such as pixels and colors) are crucial. These elements reduce the need for back-and-forth communication, allowing technical teams to focus on execution rather than clarification.
A well-oiled system not only streamlines workflows but also recaptures valuable time. We’ve seen that our M&T designers can save up to 30% of their time typically lost in searching for files, seeking clarifications, and making revisions due to poor initial communication.
This time can be better invested in creative processes and innovation.
Let’s take a look at the two primary owners of these systems at M&T and how we build our design to development hand-off steps. Feel free to copy and paste as you see fit!
The Designer's Role: Making everyone’s life easier through a bit of planning
Day in the Life of a Designer
For designers in tech companies (and agencies), each day brings new creative challenges. However, without a structured system for final file delivery, these challenges can quickly become overwhelming.
We know that designers often juggle multiple projects, and the lack of a streamlined process can lead to inefficiencies and errors. By establishing a clear system for delivering files to stakeholders or internal teams, designers can significantly reduce the time spent on administrative tasks, allowing them to focus more on their creative work.
Final File Delivery: A Designer’s System for Easy Delivery
Step One: Categorizing and Organizing Files:
Our designers start by categorizing the final files into 3 important categories for easy identification and use by the receiving teams.
Images: These include any images used throughout our designs, such as email headers, landing page images, video thumbnails, and more.
Design Source Files: All source files in their original format. For us, this can include Figma (.fig files), Illustrator (.ai files), Photoshop (.psd files), After Effects (.ae files), among others. These days, most martech personnel are familiar with these tools and can pull assets or make changes as needed.
Design Reference Document: A file containing all the copy and links, as well as a reference design of our assets for the martech team to implement. Instead of sending a separate copy document that needs constant updates, we embed all final copy and links in an editable PDF output from Figma. This allows the martech team to easily copy and paste content and links.
Here's an example of the file outputs we deliver to martech and development for our various types of marketing assets:
Step 2: Name the Assets:
Implementing a uniform naming convention, such as `[Brand Project] - Final Production - [Email 1] [Header Image]`, is vital for quick retrieval and understanding of the file contents. This step reduces confusion and saves time during the search and utilization of these assets. Our designers have templates that allow them to name these assets quickly and easily, regardless of the asset type.
Step 3: Preparing Files for Delivery:
We zip all the files and folders up into a single zip file organized across the 3 types of assets detailed above. See the below image for our file organization and naming.
Additionally, storing all files in a designated folder, typically on a shared drive, allows for centralized access. This method ensures that all team members can easily locate and use the files without the need to request them individually, thereby enhancing efficiency.
Here's how we structure our folders for delivery to production:
Step 4: Alerting the PM that the Files are Ready for Review and Delivery:
Once the files are organized and ready, notifying the project manager through the project management tool (like Asana) and marking the task as complete is essential. This communication is key to moving the project forward without delays. We simply have the designer notify the PM on the next available PM task that the files are ready to go to production and then the designer closes their Asana task.
We highly recommend organizing your marketing assets in a cloud-based platform at all times, ensuring that your team can access these files from anywhere, at any time, fostering collaboration and efficiency. We always have our designers work on collaborative tools like Figma or Adobe Cloud, allowing access to assets even when designers are not available. It’s a huge time save. Some other helpful hints on organizing your design work:
Create Specific Folders: Establish separate folders for each type of file - for instance, one for JPGs, another for PDF designs, and a third for design files. This segregation makes it easier to locate specific files quickly.
Maintain Orderliness: Regularly check the folders to ensure that all files are in their correct place and that there are no outdated or unnecessary files cluttering your space.
Finals Might Need Editing: One important thing to remember is that while the elements might be considered final from your end, they are not truly final until accepted by the team implementing the designs. This understanding is key to maintaining flexibility and responsiveness to client needs. Be prepared to make necessary edits to the marketing assets. This flexibility ensures that the final product meets the customer's expectations and requirements, leading to greater satisfaction and successful outcomes.
The Project Managers Role: Keeping all the systems moving forward
Project managers in tech marketing play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between creative teams and internal stakeholders. Their day often involves coordinating various aspects of a project, ensuring that all pieces come together seamlessly. A well-defined process for delivering marketing assets to internal teams can significantly ease the workload of project managers, allowing them to focus on more strategic aspects of project management.
The Design to Martech Handoff: How Project Managers Avoid Headaches
Step One: Asset Receipt and Verification:
Our project managers begin by confirming the receipt of the final assets from the creative team. This step involves checking that all expected files are present and correctly formatted, ensuring that nothing is missing or requires modification before being passed on.
Step Two: Organizing and Proofing Assets:
Once received, the project manager organizes these assets, proofing them for accuracy and completeness. This careful review is crucial to prevent any errors or omissions from reaching the final stages of the project.
Step Three: Uploading to Project Management Dashboard:
Adding the finalized and proofed assets to the project management dashboard, and tagging them as “Final Assets” ensures that they are easily accessible to all relevant stakeholders. This centralized location for all project materials streamlines the process of asset retrieval and use. At M&T, we have our very own customer dashboard called FlowOS. It helps us deliver all final documents to our customers in an easy-to-digest and readily available format.
Step Four: Communicating Status to Everyone:
The project manager must then effectively communicate with internal stakeholders, ensuring they are aware of and can access the final deliverables. This communication is key to keeping the project on track and ensuring all team members have what they need to proceed and if there are any issues that they get solved fast.
Handy Pro Tips:
The designers should be responsible for sending the PM the assets they need to create any final deliverables. Reinforcing the process consistently with the design team (and the downstream martech teams) will keep things running smoothly.
Never let any final assets (or communications regarding final assets) be placed in Slack, email, etc. We require all conversations, assets, and communications regarding all deliverables to be in our PM tool, Asana. Searching for conversations across Slack, email, and Asana is a real buzzkill and can cost time, money, and mistakes.
The Project Manager should be expected to take full ownership of communicating the final deliverable status to all stakeholders involved, as well as handling any exceptions in the finals as they are sent to the customer.
Systems make life easier
For tech companies, the creation of a systematic process for marketing asset delivery is not just about efficiency—it's about empowering creative and project management teams to perform at their best. By reducing the time spent on administrative tasks and clarifications, these systems allow teams to focus on what they do best: creating innovative marketing strategies and executing them flawlessly. This approach not only enhances internal workflows but also contributes to the overall success and competitiveness of the company in the tech market.
If your current marketing agency is making things hard and doesn’t have these systems in place to make your life easier, we’d love to talk and help you get these time-saving processes installed today with our easy-to-implement plays and creative snaps. Let’s talk!
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