22 November 2023
Establishing a compliance culture for marketing strategies and initiatives takes more than good intentions and an annual meeting between marketing and compliance. It takes full dedication from the entire organization. It’s a vital task, especially considering that penalties for non-compliance (particularly in marketing) can lead to hefty fines or other consequences.
Compliance culture is an environment in which compliance is consistently exercised in all work areas through core values, business practices, and ethical behavior. Here are six steps to follow to establish an effective marketing compliance culture.
1. Lead from the top down
Building a successful culture requires participation from the entire company, including C-level executives. Establish the protocol that leadership needs to hold themselves accountable and lead by example from the top down.
During compliance efforts and meetings, encourage executives and other members of senior management to analyze their regulatory compliance experiences. This transparency will foster a sense of community while implementing a mutual understanding of the risks of non-compliance.
Keep internal messaging consistent between departments and employees. Make sure leadership teams reward good compliance behavior the same way they reward other positive behaviors to emphasize the importance of a strong compliance culture.
2. Invest in training
Teach marketing compliance processes through high-quality training modules. Remember that training should be ongoing rather than done annually. This keeps marketing compliance top of mind for employees, provides the most up-to-date compliance information (since regulations change so frequently), and increases compliance knowledge over time.
Focus on real industry-specific problems in training sessions. For example, a financial services marketing team might look at an investment opportunity disclaimer and identify the compliance risks. Make sure they use up-to-date policies from regulatory organizations like FINRA in the US or the FCA in the UK and don’t forget to cover the fundamentals of compliance policies in your industry. Focus on gray areas as well, as many teams spend significant time debating over these topics in day-to-day work.
Collect feedback from the team after each compliance training session and use it to improve future sessions. This helps keep training effective and efficient.
3. Set clear procedures
A healthy compliance culture requires clear and specific guidelines and procedures. These protocols help set marketing compliance expectations.
Organize procedures efficiently and make them easily accessible to everyone on the team. In most cases, this means using some sort of centralized database (like Notion or Tettra) so everyone knows where to look for the code of conduct and internal policies. Make sure these documents are updated regularly with the latest regulatory information.
When updating compliance documentation, always inform the whole team. They might know the rules by heart and not be checking the documents regularly, so these changes to internal or regulatory policies could cause them to make costly mistakes.
While formal training sessions are important, it’s also important to normalize informal compliance conversations. These conversations make it easier for team members to ask impromptu questions and navigate errors.
4. Keep communication lines open and transparent between departments
Minimize friction between teams by improving communication across departments. Schedule regular meetings between departments (especially between marketing and compliance/legal) to align on goals and implement processes together. These regular meetings help prevent tensions from building up over time and help build a stronger working relationship between departments so issues are dealt with quickly. These factors will speed up the review process between marketing and compliance teams, minimizing the time and resources necessary for manual marketing review.
5. Track the effectiveness of your compliance culture
Compliance isn’t easy to quantify, but key metrics help gauge a compliance program’s effectiveness. This keeps companies on track when building a complete compliance culture.
Some reliable metrics include survey results from team members, the number of compliance-related incidents before and after training, and test scores after training to test retention. Consider using a digital interface to measure some of these metrics to keep all of your data in one place.
6. Cultivate a team of happy employees
Ultimately, it’s the company’s reputation on the line. Teams should want to keep the company compliant with regulatory standards, not just fear internal punishment. Achieve this by treating employees well to cultivate a happy team. Support them by listening to their needs and addressing them; and provide incentives and positive feedback to keep them motivated.
Ultimately, employees may be making non-compliant decisions because of a flaw in internal protocols, not because they’re uninformed. Learning from compliance mistakes can lead to better processes in the future for everyone. This strong communication will foster a sense of collaboration and understanding that will lead to a happier marketing compliance review team.
Maintain a compliance culture with care
After establishing a strong culture of compliance, maintain and grow it through continuous improvement. A culture that is not tended to will dissipate over time.
Choosing a marketing compliance solution that fosters a healthy culture can be a daunting task, particularly with respect to the lengthy marketing review process. We want to simplify the compliance process across all departments, providing you with the building blocks you need.
Try Red Marker as the first step toward building a solid compliance culture for Marketers. Red Marker bridges the divide between Marketing, Compliance and Legal teams. Using AI and automation to provide custom risk detection, we analyze marketing copy for risky content at the click of a button, providing comprehensive, objective feedback, speeding up the review and approval process for all teams involved..
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