Each time we speak with clients, we hear about the sources of friction between the marketing team and the in-house legal team. The marketing team is motivated to create and execute engaging campaigns that will attract and retain new business. The marketing team may need to be responsive to developments as they arise once campaigns launch, especially in social media. In order to be competitive, marketing teams need fast turnaround times. Often they can provide very little, if any, warning to in-house legal team when they require same day turnarounds. This article sets out LegalVision’s five key lessons if you decide to outsource your marketing collateral review work.

1. Identify Areas of Friction

The in-house legal team wants the marketing function to be compliant and to support the business’ reputation. Reviewing marketing collateral is just one of many tasks the in-house team must complete on any day. Not knowing what marketing work is coming down the pipeline can be very challenging for in-house legal teams. The first step to resolve these areas of friction is to identify:

  • what is causing the problem; and 
  • at which stage of the process the problem occurs. 

This is best achieved by including the marketing and in-house team in a design workshop. Our clients have previously described this process as “cathartic” because it: 

  • encourages open conversation;
  • increases transparency; and 
  • builds relationships. 

“LegalVision facilitated the design workshop really well. Everyone felt safe to put forward their views. We delved into areas and uncovered challenges that we might not have otherwise had the opportunity to explore.” Daphne Koffel, Domain Senior Legal Counsel 

2. Work Together to Design the Future State

Once you have identified the sources of friction and pain points in the current state, you will need to work together to design the future state. The question you should aim to answer is, ‘How can we work together to improve the way we manage our marketing collateral review work?’ with a focus on reducing the likelihood of friction between teams. For instance, consider whether:

  • you could develop a triage system for instructing legal;
  • there are any missing touchpoints where Legal should be consulted, such as to assist with scoping a new campaign;
  • you can develop a marketing checklist to ensure the legal team has all the information required to complete their review;
  • you can align on the period of advance notice Legal needs to meet Marketing’s turnaround requirements;
  • Marketing always needs Legal’s review to be completed within a certain time frame (for example, consider whether particular asset types or campaigns are more urgent than others); and
  • there is a better way to capture approved collateral and claims to improve efficiency. 

The end result should be a sound understanding between teams of how you can:

  • change the workflow to remove friction; and
  • improve efficiencies in the marketing collateral review workstream. 

One of the most important outcomes was confirming that the Marketing team wants to work closely with the Legal team and it is important to them that the Legal team is accessible and responsive. We also all agreed that we needed a better way of capturing the back and forth of emails so that we had all past approved claims and positions available in one place.” Daphne Koffel, Domain Senior Legal Counsel 

3. Find a Partner, Not Just a Provider

If you are looking for a provider to outsource your marketing collateral review work, ensure you find a provider who:

  • actively addresses and resolves the identified pain points and tensions; and
  • is capable of working with you as an extension of your in-house team. 

In our experience, it is important for the in-house team to stay across the marketing campaigns and messaging developed by the marketing team. The in-house team should have easy access to:

  • the volume of marketing collateral sent to the outsourced provider, and the status of each (e.g. in progress or complete);
  • any advice provided and any discussion relevant to a particular piece of marketing collateral; and
  • previously approved claims and disclaimers. 

Previously, clients have told us they looked for a partner who:

  • they can build a rapport with and who will work collaboratively with the Legal team; 
  • does not take the workload away and cut them out entirely; the Legal team stays across the work from a strategic perspective; and
  • does not provide a black and white legal review without considering the commercial strategy or context behind the messaging or campaign.

I have found that now I can oversee our advertising activities from a more strategic level, which means I can deliver so much more value to the business. I also know that at any time I can access all past reviews, approved claims and positions in one centralised and auditable bank.” Daphne Koffel, Domain Senior Legal Counsel 

4. Start Small 

When getting started with a new outsourced provider, it is wise to start small.

In our experience, the best way to get started is to select a particular area of work to get started with on a trial or pilot basis. 

The two main features we look for when selecting a suitable area for a trial are:

  1. reasonable volumes over the trial period; and
  2. collateral which mostly relates to the same area of the business (e.g. a particular business unit, set of campaigns or product line). 

The reason we recommend getting started with a particular area of work is that it has proven to be a good way to demonstrate the approach and features of the service with minimal upfront work for you. Once you see how the service works, it is easy to expand the project by introducing new areas.

5. Ongoing Feedback and Education

Marketing teams are dynamic and constantly adjust their messaging and campaign strategy to suit market conditions. Similarly, the regulatory environment is subject to change and development which the Legal team must stay abreast of. In our experience, it is critical for the Legal team to meet regularly with the Marketing team to: 

  • receive feedback;
  • provide guidance and advice; and
  • discuss upcoming campaigns. 

These meetings also help resolve another potential friction point: that in-house legal often does not offer to get involved early in a campaign’s development (or is not invited to do so). This leads to changes needing to be made late in the marketing process, once a lot of work has already gone into the collateral. This can be particularly challenging for the likes of television commercials or videos.

In addition to monthly meetings, we also suggest holding regular workshops for the Marketing team to educate them on issues such as:

  • key industry or marketing-related regulations that impact their decisions;
  • examples of words and images that cannot be used and why; and
  • the process Legal undertakes when reviewing collateral and the information they need Marketing to provide in order to complete the review.

Similarly, Marketing may hold workshops to educate Legal on issues such as:

  • the business’ target market; and 
  • why certain phrases and images might appeal to that demographic. 

The idea is that the more each team educates the other on their objectives, the easier it will be to work effectively and efficiently together. 

From the Marketing team’s perspective, I think they have built a strong relationship with LegalVision. LegalVision is very accessible, on the phone and in person. LegalVision has also been very amenable to working within the Business and adopting our working style. The LegalVision team go out of their way to service the Marketing team in the way that our in-house team does.” Daphne Koffel, Domain Senior Legal Counsel 

Key Takeaways

If there is friction between the marketing team and the in-house legal team in your business, you may wish to outsource marketing collateral review work. If you decide to do so, you will need to identify key pain points and work together to identify a future state. It is important to start small when trialling a new outsourced provider so you can test how the service works. If you have decided to outsource marketing collateral review work and need help, contact LegalVision on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page. 

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