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How Asana streamlines marketing strategic planning with work management

Alicia Raeburn contributor headshotAlicia Raeburn
June 10th, 2024
5 min read
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As a leader in the productivity and work management software space, the team at Asana knows a thing or two about effective strategic planning. So it makes sense that Asana’s marketing department relies on their own product to map out, track, and report on their key initiatives. 

Leading this effort is Isaac Payne, Asana’s Head of Digital, Marketing Operations and Analytics. Payne’s role is multifaceted. He oversees a wide range of functions—from web, email, and SEO to marketing operations, marketing technology, and analytics. That means it’s crucial for him to build a plan that’s highly visible and accessible across the org. 

To do that, he turns to Asana.

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4 common challenges in marketing strategic planning

Before working at Asana, Payne faced the same challenges many organizations do when building a comprehensive strategic plan. It’s hard to move all the pieces forward while also being mindful of differing goals and objectives for each partner.

As Payne frames it, “How do you get different departments and departmental leaders to move in a synchronous direction, especially when you're trying to build a strategy for the entire company?” 

Your department’s strategic plan will suffer without addressing these challenges. And to address them, you first need to identify them.

1. Coordinating efforts across different teams

"To build a strategic, trackable marketing plan, you need to work with many different partners," says Payne. "Coordination first starts with deciding the key outcomes and milestones. Once those are decided—in lock step with your leadership—you can then set up the steps, deliverables and projects needed to bring the plan to life. That last part is where Asana shines."  To drive global, cross-functional collaboration, you need to align these teams and  synchronize their strategic planning and budgeting. 

2. Lack of a centralized system for collaborative planning

Relying on endless meetings and disparate templates and documents can make it very difficult to keep track of progress and stay coordinated across the organization. Without a central, unified platform for strategic planning, it’s challenging to bring all the pieces together in a cohesive way.

3. Difficulty updating the plan when changes happen

Even the best laid plans and priorities can shift quickly. Without access to reliable, up-to-date data on the performance of departmental goals, it's hard for marketing leaders to make informed decisions and course-correct as needed. Maintaining an agile, responsive strategic plan requires having the right real-time information at your fingertips.

4. Trouble allocating resources to maximize impact and reduce costs

Resource allocation is a critical part of building an effective strategic plan. But without clear visibility into the progress and performance of various initiatives, it can be challenging to determine where to best focus time, budget, and headcount to drive the greatest impact. Optimizing resource utilization is key to maximizing marketing's efficiency and reducing unnecessary costs.

How Asana leverages its own platform

That’s where Asana comes in. By leveraging Asana's work management capabilities, Payne and his team are able to:

  • Coordinate efforts across multiple departments, including marketing, sales, product, and other key stakeholders.

  • Ensure everyone is aligned on strategy, priorities, and execution.

  • Plan and track progress in one centralized platform.

  • Reduce time spent in meetings.

  • Connect disjointed documents.

  • Improve resource allocation to maximize impact and reduce costs.

Here’s how.

One central source of truth for cross-functional planning and coordination

Marketing initiatives Asana product UI

At the heart of the Asana marketing team's strategic planning process is an Asana portfolio dedicated to their global marketing initiatives. This portfolio brings together operational leads from each individual team, including web, email, SEO, and marketing operations.

"We use this portfolio to manage all our marketing planning and execution," explains Payne. "It allows us to involve the right people, leverage team-specific project templates and views, and maintain a holistic view of our progress."

By establishing this central hub in Asana, the marketing team can ensure everyone is aligned on the overarching strategy and objectives. They can also track dependencies, identify potential roadblocks, and make real-time adjustments as needed. 

"Asana gives us the flexibility to customize our workflows and processes to fit the unique needs of each team,” says Isaac. “Simultaneously, we’re giving our CMO the information she needs to guide the team and dive in where she's needed. Whether it's leadership, content creators, demand gen experts, or the analytics team, they can all leverage the platform in a way that works best for them."

Routine reviews and check-ins

Asana product UI for AI status update feature

To keep their marketing strategic plan on track, the Asana team has a regular cadence of reviews and check-ins.

  • Quarterly business reviews (QBRs): These high-level meetings bring the entire marketing organization together to assess their progress against quarterly objectives and key results (OKRs). They also identify areas for improvement and plan for the next quarter ahead.

  • Monthly metrics meetings (M&Ms): On a more frequent basis, the team comes together to analyze their performance metrics, celebrate successes, and course-correct where needed. These meetings leverage Asana data to provide a comprehensive view of marketing's impact.

  • Weekly status updates: Within Asana, the team provides regular updates on the status of their ongoing projects and initiatives using Asana AI’s smart status feature. This allows them to quickly identify any blockers or risks, and take immediate action.

"The combination of quarterly business reviews, monthly metrics meetings, and weekly check-ins keeps us all aligned and accountable," says Payne. "Asana makes it easy to surface the right information at the right time, so we can make informed, data-driven decisions."

Improved reporting for data-driven decision-making

Asana product UI AI feature

Within the overarching marketing portfolio, Payne’s team tracks key health metrics like the percentage of projects that are on track and those that are behind or not meeting expectations. They also integrate Asana data with other sources, like Tableau, to build comprehensive dashboards and reports. 

Payne’s team can also use AI to summarize any changes since they last visited the project or portfolio. This allows executives to get a quick snapshot of what’s happened since the last time they checked work progress, without reaching out to any one on the team.

"Having real-time data around our progress against goals is invaluable," explains Payne. "We can add this information to our executive dashboards and leverage it to optimize our resource allocation and strategic planning."

This data-driven approach extends beyond just the marketing team. By creating greater visibility into their common goals and objectives, Asana allows the broader organization to collaborate more effectively.

"Asana gives us a centralized system where we can build portfolios and projects that span multiple departments," says Payne. "This enhances cross-functional alignment and ensures we're all working towards the same priorities."

Case study: Coordinating the Work Innovation Summit launch

Let’s look at a concrete example. Asana recently launched their largest global event, the Work Innovation Summit. This cross-functional initiative involved teams from across the org. It required meticulous planning, coordination, and execution to pull off.

"We managed the entire Work Innovation Summit launch within Asana," says Payne. "From the initial project planning to the day-of logistics, Asana was the central hub that kept everything and everyone—from marketing to sales to R&D and more—organized and on track."

The team utilized a variety of Asana features to streamline their workflow, including:

  • Multi-homing: Project tasks that spanned multiple teams were placed in multiple projects and portfolios, making them easy to track and monitor.

  • Progress reporting: The marketing leadership could quickly assess the status of key deliverables.

  • Automated updates: Asana automatically notified stakeholders of important changes and milestones.

"Asana gave us a single source of truth for the Work Innovation Summit," said Payne. "We could see what was happening in real-time, identify any roadblocks, and make adjustments on the fly. It was a lifesaver for a complex, high-stakes launch like this one."

Watch on-demand sessions from The Work Innovation Summit

Dive into the new era of work with exclusive video content from The Work Innovation Summit, Asana’s biggest event of the year.

Work Innovation Summit

The benefits of using Asana for marketing strategic planning

By embracing Asana as the foundation for their marketing strategic planning, the Asana team has unlocked a number of key benefits:

  • Aligning teams and driving accountability: Asana serves as a centralized platform for planning, executing, and tracking the status of all marketing initiatives. With clear ownership and visibility of tasks, projects, and goals, the team is more aligned and accountable than ever before.

  • Improving collaboration and coordination: Asana enables seamless cross-functional communication and information sharing. Teams can adapt their workflows and processes to suit their unique needs, while still maintaining visibility across the entire organization.

  • Enhancing visibility and data-driven insights: With real-time monitoring of progress, blockers, and risks, the Asana marketing team has better insight into what's happening. This data-driven approach fuels more informed decision-making and resource allocation.

  • Streamlining reporting and reviews: By integrating Asana data with other sources, the team can build comprehensive reports and dashboards. This, in turn, powers their quarterly business reviews, monthly metrics meetings, and other important planning rituals.

Strategic planning, simplified

By establishing the right processes, meetings, and data-driven reviews, the entire Asana marketing department has aligned teams, improved collaboration, and enhanced visibility throughout their strategic planning process. The lessons they've learned can help other marketers unlock the full potential of Asana for their own strategic planning and operations.

See marketing planning in action

With Asana, marketing teams can connect work, standardize processes, and automate workflows—all in one place.

See marketing planning in action

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