10 Steps to Make Marketing Compliance Less Painful

October 27, 2016

Smart marketers know that ignoring compliance requirements is bad business. The consequences can be painful—significant fines, adverse publicity, and damage to the brand. But marketing compliance doesn’t have to be a jaw-clenching endeavor.

With the right approach, a focus on marketing compliance yields benefits, such as driving greater efficiency, savings, and transparency.

How can you reduce the pain involved in achieving marketing compliance?

Try these 10 steps:

1. Have an all-encompassing compliance policy:

Your compliance policy needs to apply to all marketing communications, regardless of channel or technique. Your team members should follow the same rules, no matter whether they’re executing a print ad or a tweet.

2. Assign ownership:

Make sure someone monitors and enforces the compliance policy so your team knows where to direct questions and who to contact if an issue arises.

3. Document (and update) this policy:

Keep your policy current. Assigning ownership is a good start, but for continuity, it must also be documented. This prevents team members from misinterpreting or forgetting any verbal communication regarding the policy.

4. Train, train, train:

Train your users. Educate and keep them updated on:

  • What the policy is
  • Why it is important
  • When they should use it
  • Where can they find it
  • The consequences of not following the policy

5. Enforce the policy:

A heroic effort to quickly execute a marketing campaign means nothing if that campaign fails to comply. Make both internal and external team members aware that there are consequences if the policy is not followed, and then enforce those consequences.

6. Make it easy for your team to comply:

Give your internal team (and external agencies) an easy, intuitive way to do reviews. And make the current policy easily available and accessible. For example, if you are doing online reviews of marketing material, the online review should automatically allow reviewers to refer to the latest compliance standards.

7. Monitor and test your policy:

Make sure your policy is working by regularly testing it. Audit yourself! That way, if (or when) you go through an external audit, you’re already in a position to handle it without stressing out your marketing team.

Audits happen, but they are less likely to bring your marketing department to a grinding halt if you have been transparent about your compliance process. If your team can prove it knows the process, you can show the auditors how easily you can cross-check that your marketing materials are indeed compliant.

8. Know that things go wrong:

Mistakes happen. Just quickly correct the materials. If you have made compliance a straightforward and documented process, you are already in a better position to adjust materials to fit the policy.

9. Don’t stifle creativity when not needed:

Clearly identify what parts of your marketing processes are not subject to compliance, and make it easy for teams to be agile within safe boundaries.

10. Use technology to complement your compliance process:

Providing your marketers with a marketing operations platform that supports them in delivering marketing materials in a consistent, repeatable way is a good start. Make sure the platform is flexible, supports the level of agility that complements your business, and is intuitive for internal and external users.


Defining and implementing a well-structured, well-enforced compliance approach (steps 1–9)—supported by the right technology (step 10)—takes the pain out of marketing compliance. You might end up enjoying the process!

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