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Marketing compliance and creative process: Where does your role fit in?

7 min read
Mike Puterbaugh

To run an effective marketing compliance program within your creative processes requires a constant, team-wide effort. When content is produced within, or across, department boundaries, the diligence required to prove controls for compliance lives both in and around everyone’s daily activities.

What we'll cover

Marketing Compliance - How Does Your Role Contribute?

Without a hierarchy of compliance responsibilities and standards activated throughout your organization, though, it’s easy to miss key governance holes in your content production, communications, and approval processes.  

While each team in your organization can be connected to a strong foundation of strategic and legal standards, creative marketers have their own compliance challenges.

Where do you fall into this hierarchy? Let's take a look at the various roles that can help implement marketing compliance on a daily basis.  

5 Types of Creative Team Members Who Impact Compliance

Content Creator: Tactical Control

As content creators, the work of designers, copywriters, social media managers, videographers, and other similar roles play a pivotal role when it comes to marketing compliance.

Designer working on a marketing compliance process by his deskIf this is your role, you’re on the ground with the creative content itself, from creation to real-time modifications, and your work is constantly facing change requests, versioning and stakeholder approvals. You might not be setting the compliance strategy, but your work touches many marketing compliance responsibilities, such as:

  • Circulating current versions to the right stakeholders, in the right sequence, for review and approval
  • Checking that you’ve received feedback from all stakeholders before creating new versions and new drafts for review
  • Maintaining a digital trail (and often a paper trail) of how you’ve acted on requested changes
  • Saving and storing source files and final versions in an acceptable format and location.
  • Ensuring that all content meets brand standards (colors, logos, copy, etc.), as well as any regulatory requirements (disclaimers, sizing requirements, etc)

Given the volume of requests that creative teams see today, ensuring that everything you’re doing falls in line with compliance standards can be a daunting task without proper processes in place.

Often, what content creators need isn’t more oversight, but a way to automate oversight during these daily processes that won’t slow down creativity and task completion.

Lifting the compliance burden for content creators starts with audit trails, controlled content reviews, and formal, recorded sign-offs mean they don’t have to track those items on top of creating content.

Project Manager: The Strategic Scribe

When it comes to marketing compliance, marketing project managers are the keeper of the books.

You’re overseeing the efficiency of the content creation processes, distributing creative assets for review and driving the collection of feedback, and fielding stakeholder input, all while meeting corporate goals.

Creative process visualised on the board and sticky notesThat’s a lot to tackle, from both a tactical and strategic lens.

Within this mix, you’re also mindful of:

  • Determining which stakeholders need content access for each project and providing justifications for why (or why not)
  • Tracking when specific stakeholders are looped into content and campaign review and the actions they take
  • Ensuring that controls are in places to record and distribute new comments, modifications, and decisions around marketing content
  • Maintaining a record of approval sign-off from all stakeholders from start to finish
  • Setting up review processes for different clients or stakeholders
  • Controlling project versioning in an organized manner

Often, due to the nature of different project needs, you’re probably also stuck working within email reply chains and file storage systems to communicate changes to content creators and stakeholders. The variability in these channels make it difficult to make sure work is completed in a proper manner and maintain complete project records.

Centralizing collaborator interactions (inside and outside of your organization), review tasks, and versioning in one system can go a long way to automating and improving the production of project records.

VP of Marketing/Chief Marketing Officer: The Brand Connector

As a CMO, you’re likely thinking about brand compliance as a holistic strategy. Marketing messages can adversely affect a companies brand if they weren’t properly vetted before release.  

With so much on the line, one single compliance breach or governance issue can undermine all the hard work you’re putting in to launch creative, innovative marketing campaigns.

As a marketing leader, you’re not only concerned with internal corporate communications and process, but you’re also ensuring that brand partnerships and client communication meet the right standards. You need an easy way to:

  • Set guidelines for how external stakeholders, partners, clients should interact with your brand - and ensure they’re being met consistently  
  • Stay on top of regulatory requirements when brainstorming new or innovative campaigns
  • Create a strategy for the consistent review of corporate communications
  • Control brand cohesion across all of your marketing content channels, from digital to print to social media
  • Ensure that partner co-branding and content use across all partner campaigns align with legal requirements

Strong governance policies can end up being a major competitive advantage when pitching your services and earning the trust of new customers and clients.

Having automated processes in place that show measured control over content creation and creative production is key, but the real challenge for CMOs is to maintain compliance standards that are flexible enough to meet the needs of many different brands, clients, or project types.

Technology Manager: The Data Docent

Compliance risks typically boil down to how data is gathered, stored, accessed, and archives. Often what’s missing in the data that causes issues - lack of proof, lack of audit trails.

As a MarTech specialist, you’re the go-to guide in the murky waters of how data can affect (and effect) marketing compliance.

It’s up to you show that, in a tour of all the marketing systems, data is handled properly at all times. This means everything from recording actions taken around digital content to maintaining audit trails of who is accessing and reviewing that content.

You’re usually on the hook for:

  • Gathering the right types of data throughout our content production (the who, what, when, etc.)
  • Securing data that’s collected around customer interactions and campaign analytics, and ensuring privacy laws aren’t being violated
  • Extracting or auto-generating real-time compliance reporting to stakeholders or regulators
  • Fully capturing content details and marketing data and archiving it according to applicable retention schedules
  • Discovering gaps in data governance practices.
  • Determine and configured content access needs across desktops and mobile devices for different roles.
  • As the number of MarTech systems required to run and track campaigns grows, it’s getting harder to ensure that backend and consumer-facing technologies align with privacy laws.  GDPR has shown us that.

The growth of AI and sophisticated targeting to deliver marketing content means that MarTech managers need to be even more diligent over the validity of how potential customers see, interact, and are influenced by brand content in digital channels.

General Counsel: The Legal Eyes

The General Counsel role is arguably the most direct line to compliance sign-off in an organization.

As the leader of the legal team, you’re both first in line for setting compliance requirements and potentially the final stop (if not you, then a member of your team) to making sure all marketing communications are above board.

Your work takes the threads of creative innovation, client delivery, and corporate standards into one standard for business conduct. On any given day, you’re in the thick of:

  • Conducting a legal review of proposed content that falls under the umbrella of a compliance program
  • Making sure that proper disclaimers appear in advertisements or packaging in the case of physical product distribution
  • Enforcing contractor agreements to include full policies around proper content access, usage, intellectual property needs, and other concerns when working with outside contractors to create or distribute marketing content
  • Determining brand licensing agreements to ensure brand standards is being accurately met
  • Ensuring that social media policies - both internal employee and partner use and within content distribution - are up-to-date with current requirements and enforced across the organization

When you’re responsible for a huge burden of proof, your internal systems and processes should do as much of the heavy lifting as possible for you. Yet, privacy, security, intellectual property and brand regulations look much different today than even five years ago.

In Conclusion

When it comes to governance, a wide range of team members, not just in marketing, face varying areas and levels of diligence required to effectively contribute to meeting marketing compliance requirements.

At the core of all of this is the content itself. How that content is being deployed - whether it’s being created, routed, reviewed or approved - plays a central role in the marketing compliance “supply chain”.

Similar to how compliance requirements have created the need for specialized solutions within departments (finance, systems management, even benefits), marketing compliance dictates that creative content be treated similarly, with specific, purpose-built solutions that demonstrate the controls in place.  

To learn more about how Ziflow can help you and your team apply process and control to the creative production process, please visit our product page.  

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