Welcome to the (marketing) machine

Lean, mean and printing green.

It’s easy to look at the marketing campaigns of well-established companies and think, “man, they’ve got it together.” Everything runs smoothly, driven by an automated system of checks and balances. Any mistake is an aberration and anything that doesn’t fit is quickly ejected (or assimilated). All we need to do is gaze upon any major consumer brand’s marketing efforts to behold the power of a true marketing machine. 

For those without hundreds of employees and a budget equivalent to the GDP of a small country, the marketing machine often feels like it’s held together with duct tape and superglue. When you’re not propping up one campaign, you’re trying to prevent another from going off the rails. When stuff works, it’s a good day. When it works as-intended, that’s even better. 

Except, this isn’t always the case. 

It’s possible for a flawed attribution model to inform a successful campaign. Think of it like a child’s shape sorting game. The goal is to put the square block through the square hole… but that square block might also fit through the hexagonal slot—or other shapes when plied (with force). Just because it works doesn’t mean it’s right. Worst still, what you learn isn’t valuable because it’s fundamentally flawed. 

The lesson here is that Marketers and Media Strategists can’t delve into data and take findings at face value. To validate that data and the lessons it offers, you need to make sure the attribution model fits. You might find that what your data says isn’t actually what it means.

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JXM can relate. We’ve been there, trying to build something great using spare parts and upside-down blueprints. And after years of relying on Rube Goldberg-style workflows and Dr. Seuss-esque contraptions, we finally created an agency OS. It’s less a marketing machine and more a framework for enabling us to focus on doing what we love. 

Reinventing the wheel… and the vehicle

Building a cohesive framework for simplifying and managing marketing workflows seems like a no-brainer. So why don’t organizations naturally gravitate toward creating these systems? 

Well, for starters, it’s often a trial by fire. 

For JXM, creating an agency OS moved all internal communications from emails, phone calls, Zooms, and chats to one unified program. We endured a lot of pain in trying to find the right software, create the necessary integrations, build in quality control measures, and more. It’s a lot like solving a Rubik’s Cube: every move you make affects multiple facets, and even when you’ve got things aligned one way, there are still five other sides that are a mess. 

But even more complicated than coordinating all of our digital systems was making sure we built a high-fidelity framework that didn’t impact client relationships. Compromising on creative quality, customer experience, or the integrity of our values simply wasn’t an option—which meant an even higher standard for our agency OS to live up to.

Automated systems aren’t a panacea

Why not just automate? Too many brands think that automation is the key to magically making workflows smoother. While it can definitely help, it’s not a replacement for attentive oversight. Automation is the path to consistency and repeatability—not quality. Quality in marketing is the product of attention to detail

AI can create amazing art, but it takes an artist to make sure it’s properly incorporated into client collateral. Great project management software can schedule meetings and set deadlines, but someone still needs to show up and do the work. KPI tracking dashboards produce beautiful data visualizations, but the onus is still on a marketer to explain how and why they did or didn’t meet expectations. 

Put simply: automation isn’t the key to a successful agency framework—it’s merely a feature of one. Relying on automation alone to improve workflows is a recipe for negligence. Read Ray Bradbury’s There Will Come Soft Rains to see what happens when even perfect automation lacks human intervention (or—highly recommended—have Spock read it to you). 

The true essence of a good marketing machine is a framework that enables people to do their best work, with as few impediments as possible. To quote noted psychologist B.F. Skinner, “the real problem isn’t whether machines think, but whether men do.”

Always acting in service of the client

In struggling to build out a cohesive marketing machine, many agencies will inevitably ask themselves, “what the hell are we doing?” Usually, this question arises after you’ve up-ended a legacy process for something that should’ve worked… but didn’t. Better a precarious system than one that doesn’t work, right?

The willingness to create something better needs to stem from a mission to do better not for yourself, but for your clients. You’re not building a machine to make your life easier—that’s just a function of the solution. Instead, you’re building a machine that allows you to produce better results for clients. That bigger goal—dare we say, a mission—ensures the solution you create isn’t just in service of your agency, but rather in service of those who rely on it. 

Don’t set out to build a machine that’s a weapon of war, either. It’s easy to fall into the marketing arms race and pour money into solutions that you think will give you the edge. Instead, build something useful: a foundry for constructing great ideas. When the marketing machine empowers the people relying on it, it’s a win for everyone.

Want to see how well-architected frameworks help great teams produce incredible results?

Reach out to JXM. We’ve got a marketing machine that runs so lean it has enterprise agencies saying, “man, they’ve got it together.”