Close your eyes for a minute and imagine this…
For weeks, your marketing team has worked on a campaign that everyone is excited to implement. It includes an infographic that you believe really captures the message and will resonate clearly with your audience. Per protocols at your organization, all of the campaign materials are submitted to compliance for review and approval. Two days before the scheduled launch, they send you what you think will be their approval...but it’s not. They have destroyed your beautiful infographic with a giant disclaimer and instructions that jeopardize the message you worked so hard to create for your audience. AGGGHHHHH!
If you're a marketer in an industry like insurance or finance, you may have already lived that story. Working with a compliance department can be challenging... especially when you're implementing an inbound approach.
As experienced inbound marketers know, content is the fuel that keeps your inbound program going. Successful inbound programs are frequently publishing new content — sometimes more than once a day.
How can you keep up with an aggressive publishing schedule when compliance is involved? Is it even possible to execute a successful program in that situation?
The answer is yes! It can be done and done very well. At Weidert Group, we work with many clients in the insurance and finance industries where compliance is part of the process. Here are four things we’ve learned that help keep inbound programs moving in the right direction — even with compliance reviews.
Document Standard Language and Requirements
Start by creating a checklist to use when creating content. Include words that compliance indicated cannot be used and the acceptable alternatives. For example, as a marketer in engineering consulting, I had a list of words stuck to my monitor. They were the words our legal team identified as words that could not, under any circumstance, be used in a proposal.
The checklist should also identify the types of content that require a disclaimer and, if there is more than one option, which disclaimer. If certain images are off limits, include them on the checklist as well.
Once the checklist is complete, share it with the entire marketing team. Avoiding potential conflicts up front will help streamline the overall process.
Establish Time Needed to Approve Each Type of Content
For anyone who has worked in an industry that requires compliance reviews, you know this part of the process can bog down your timeline. When things get “stuck” in compliance, everyone gets frustrated.
To avoid these delays, sit down with your compliance team and establish some guidelines. For example, a blog post may require two days, an infographic five days and an eBook 10 days. The key is to get agreement from both teams and document it. This creates accountability for the marketing team and the compliance team.
When everyone understands the expectations, the process has a better chance of moving along smoothly.
Include Compliance in the Journey
Remember the story from the beginning of this post? The marketing team completed their campaign materials and then submitted them to compliance. There was no interaction until the review phase.
Before you begin a new project, especially one that is new or different, invite the compliance team to provide input. Explain what you’re planning to create including the message, the audience, how it will be delivered, etc. Give compliance a chance to identify red flags before the actual work begins. A 30-minute meeting up front has the potential to save hours of time in edits and re-dos.
Don’t Let the “Disclaimers” Take Over Your Content
So, if you’re in the insurance or finance industry, you’ve accepted the fact that your marketing materials will include disclaimers. The trick is to not let those disclaimers dominate your content or jeopardize the likelihood of engagement.
For example, when a landing page has two paragraphs of copy related to your offer and five paragraphs of disclaimers, it can have a negative impact on engagement. Your potential customers may not be sure what they’re getting themselves into and I’m sure they don’t want to read those five paragraphs.
Work with your compliance department to simplify disclaimers and minimize the amount of copy required to state the message. Try to eliminate legal jargon or, if you have to, provide links to a simplified definition.
Inbound marketing and compliance can co-exist happily. Take the time to put these ideas in place and let your compliance-friendly inbound marketing begin!