Most of us recognize a marketing creep when we see one. But not many are willing or equipped to deal with it.
What’s a marketing creep? Marketing creep is comparable to feature creep in web development, or design creep in engineering. In whatever name or industry, marketing, feature or design creep refers to unforeseen requests for additions and changes that are outside the project scope. Generically it can be called scope or requirement creep, but again they all mean the same thing: You’ll run into trouble if you’re not careful.
Why is this important? We all have our own way of dealing with marketing creep in a traditional marketing, but with online marketing, the problem can be much more easily compounded. New features can creep into the project at any time, therefore strict project management and control is crucial.
The fact is, features are normally agreed upon with the client and formalized in a contractual agreement at the beginning of the project. Considering today’s communication options are available in many forms including voicemail, email, text, instant messaging, even through social media channels like Twitter and others, ideas being kicked around in these remote communication methods can easily become a new, undocumented feature or requirement without a formal agreement. Over time the list grows uncontrollably and can spell trouble for your marketing project or campaign. SEO itself is especially vulnerable to feature creep.
Kevin Lee writing for Online Marketing for Marketers touches on this issue in his article “Learn How to Say No to Dumb Ideas“. He suggests to deal with the issue by paying attention to these 4 things:
Beware “Pet Projects”
There are always plenty of tasks and projects on any road map or agenda, many of them with a high likelihood of success. Otherwise those tasks and strategies wouldn’t have made it onto the roadmap (assuming the team putting the roadmap together was competent). Yet it isn’t unusual to see a strong personality on a team or outside supervisor suddenly derail a highly profitable project plan with some pet project…
Remember: You’re Being Paid For Your Expertise
Sure, saying no feels dangerous. And there’s still a decent chance that a superior or client will override your objections. In reality, once you become a search marketing professional, your opinions (backed up by experience and expertise) are what you get paid for…
Fully Analyze the Cost of Changing Directions
The question becomes how do you present your case when you think a campaign is about to go off track due to a “pet project” inserted by a well-meaning senior manager or a client. The first method that can be effective is the pros and cons discussion…
Search Engine Reps Will Never Have Your Unique Expertise
Interestingly, as a search marketing expert, your responsibilities include protecting the marketing budget and campaign from outside influences who promote projects that have a low expected return…
Jacob Gube also offers some excellent ideas in “Eight Tips on How to Manage Feature Creep” in his post over at SixRevisions.com. Based mostly from his own experience, you may find them useful below:
1. Accept that feature creep will happen.
Feature creep is a natural part of any project-based work. Acknowledging this eventuality will allow you to be prepared when it finally rears it’s ugly code-retrofitting, design-wrecking head. Anticipating unforeseen changes in your plans forces you to be more adaptable, and promotes the development of a solution that’s flexible and malleable to your client’s ever-changing needs.
2. Commit enough time to requirements-gathering.
Easy and fairly common sense. Just don’t rush the planning phase of projects.
3. Giving a hand might cost you your arm.
If you constantly give in to changes, you might be get more of them in the future. Try to set boundaries of what is and isn’t appropriate to revise, this not only prevents unneeded requests for changes, but gives the project strict quality-control guidelines.
4. Be the devil’s advocate when changes are requested.
You were hired and assigned to the project because of your knowledge and expertise. Don’t be afraid to contradict unwise feature requests by providing well-formed reasons that the project should proceed as originally planned.
5. Be task-oriented, not vision-oriented.
Be clear on what it is, exactly, you’re developing for the client. Don’t promise a grand, exciting, but ambiguous/ambitious end result.
6. Shed the “Customer is Always Right” mentality.
You, more often than not, are a more qualified judge of how things should be developed. You’re not working to get a big tip at the end. Don’t feel pressured to do something that isn’t in the job description or something you feel will lead to a less desirable end product.
7. Research before committing.
If you think the budget and timeline can handle a modification in plans, research thoroughly on what the change actually entails before committing.
8. Realize that feature creep is a two-way street.
Clients and employers aren’t (purely) evil. They don’t intend to make our jobs more difficult. Oftentimes it’s our desire to please, to prove our worth, and our perfectionist mentality that can be, in part if not equally, to blame. If feature creep happens, it’s only because we allow it to.
So how are you dealing with your own marketing creeps?
What would you do if you realize, way deep into a project, you now have a long list of features that were regretfully accepted verbally?
And what do you suggest the best ways to bring feature creep back to the negotiating table?
Share your experience with us.
Tags: feature creep, marketing campaign, project management, requirements, SEO Marketing