We’ve all faced this. You’re spearheading a marketing project. You’ve got your marketing decision makers and influencers identified. You’ve asked (and asked) who’s making the final decisions. It’s ‘John’ and ‘Mary’. All right! Let’s do it. Then suddenly ‘Susie’ pops up after way too many meetings. And let’s just say she’s not too happy she wasn’t included in the first place.

So now there’s a change in strategy and/or direction that’s occurred because of this new decision maker. And it’s causing the project to go over budget and off-schedule.

Could this have been helped? Well, not always. Here are a few suggestions for keeping ‘what’s behind door #2?’ away.

Determine your decision-making team. Make a list. Identify the marketing decision makers. And the marketing decision influencers. There’s a difference between the two. And appoint the final say to a key decision maker. Ideally this is one person with the final say.

Once you have this team identified decide the “weight” of each. The influencers may get only one point while the decision maker gets two. Create a point hierarchy based on the participation of your team. There may be a strong influencer that gets two points instead of one. And so on. Depending on your organization’s culture, you may or not want to share the point hierarchy with the team. But you will want to share it with the decision maker.

Share your team internally. Publish it. Have it clear up front who’s involved on this team. This seems obvious. But it’s often overlooked. Or difficult to get the guts to put it down in writing. But it’s best for the organization’s time and money to be in control. This should also mitigate adding another person into the mix. But we all know how that happens. If they’re added, then include and revise your information and resubmit internally.

Get a commitment for the team’s schedules to have an opening to move the assignment along. It might be the first Monday of the month from 4-5PM. Or a weekly meeting every Tuesday from 2-3PM. Determine the timing based on your assignment deadlines. Just because it’s on the calendar doesn’t mean you have to have a meeting. The time assigned will have it on the team’s calendars and keep things moving along. Utilize webinars to include team members that are traveling.

Whether you’ve outsourced the marketing assignment or developed it in-house – have them present to the team. You can save yourself a lot of time, money and aggravation by doing this. They’ve been living and breathing the assignment. They have developed the strategy (with your blessing) and they’re the best ‘go to’ for questions, rationale and answers. Their participation answers objections immediately. And moves the meeting to a conclusion.

Whatever you do, avoid these words ‘send the PDF’. Or ‘let me take this down the hall and show this to John’. It’s the kiss of death. There’s no one to appropriately represent the strategy and thinking. Make this an up front contract with your team.

Have a conclusion to each meeting. Get a vote [Sons of Anarchy ‘ yea’ or ‘neh’ without the gavel]. This allows the assignment to move on. And it flushes out any objections, concerns and questions right then and there. Not a day or so later. Or postponed until the next team meeting. Get a firm conclusion with actionable items. This may be a revision.  A change in direction. Whatever. Move it forward.