Time Savers for Marketeers

In any profession it can be impossible to get things done!  You already have your own ever-lengthening To Do list but it constantly seems to be overwritten or interrupted by the priorities of others.  In marketing this is complicated even further by the fact that these other priorities also often suddenly involve you; giving you yet more work and pushing your original plans further into the future!

Here are a few hints and tips as to how to regain control of your time at work and ensure that every minute is put to good use meeting your own priorities as well as everyone else’s!

1. Minimise Interruptions!

2. Keep Information at Your Fingertips

3. Streamline the Approval Process

4. Manage Workflow Effectively

5. Develop more Flexible Team Working

6. Know What Everyone is Doing!

7. Don’t Do Too Much!

8. Clever Campaign Planning

9. Align Marketing Activities with Strategic Business Initiatives

10. Centralise Marketing Information


1. Minimise Interruptions

It can be incredibly frustrating when you have something important to finish and you keep getting interrupted!  We can also sometimes be our own worst enemies in this respect: allowing distractions – albeit legitimate work-related ones – to get in the way of the task at hand.  Try one or more of the steps below to help you stay focussed:

  • when you want to get something finished, turn off email and phone notifications and send all calls directly to voicemail.  Then schedule in specific periods of tiem each day to reply to emails and phone messages

  • ensure you prioritise your To Do list so that you are working on the things that are the most strategically important.  If you do get interrupted, discipline yourself to go straight back to what you were working on so you do not lose focus.

  • if you find there are people who repeatedly interrupt you, try to find ways to manage and minimise these interruptions.  One possible solution is to schedule two or three short periods throughout the day when you make yourself available to assist other people. You can ask anyone who does interrupt you to come back during one of these times.

  • in parallel with the above, set aside dedicated work times when interruptions are not allowed.  Either go and hide somewhere quiet where you won’t be interrupted, or find a way of letting others know that you aren’t currently available – perhaps an email auto-reply or notice on the door.


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2. Keep Information at Your Fingertips

In marketing it seems that you are continually being asked for information and that everyone who makes such a request needs it urgently!  Whilst some of this is seemingly unavoidable, there are some things that you can do to ensure that you keep ahead of the information game!

  • spend time analysing what kind of reports are needed most.  Whilst different people iwll want different things at different times, are there some common themes and could you therefore regularly create a small number of generic reports – automated as far as possible – that should satisfy the majority of requests?  If such information is available regularly, the number of ad hoc requests should begin to reduce!

  • following on from the above, make people aware of what information is available, when it is updated and where they can find it.  Be consistent about this.  Whether your reports are daily, weekly, or monthly, help people get into the habit of knowing what is where and when!

  • ensure that you understand what information people do need so that your reports are hitting the mark.  This will not only continue to reduce ad hoc requests but will also ensure that you don’t waste your time producing information that is simply not needed.

  • once you are confident that the information you are producing is relevant, it will be an increasingly vital strategic tool for the business.   Ensuring managers have ready access to the information they need whenever they need it is invaluable.


3. Streamline the Approval Process

Trying to get approval for stages of a project or campaign can often delay things.   The process is likely to involve a variety of people and getting them all together in one room – let alone to agree on anything – is never easy!   It’s therefore a good idea to do as much as possible in advance to save last minute crises!

  • at the beginning of the project identify approvers for each stage in advance. This will ensure that no one will be either overlooked or added to the list at the last minute.

  • clarify the process by which approval will be done so you know not only who needs to provide approval at what stage of the project, but also how that feedback or approval should be received.

  • ensure that there is clear visibility of the project schedule so that approvers can understand how any delay on their part can impact the entire project timeline.

  • make it clear when a stage is finished and no further changes will be accepted no matter what!


4. Manage Workflow Effectively

We all know the feeling when everything seems to be going relatively smoothly but then a new work request comes in that throws everything into chaos and confusion!  Try these tips below to help manage your workflow effectively:

  • use one method to submit all work requests and stick to it.  Only accept new requests if they are submitted through that process, and ensure that requests are accompanied by all the information you need to prioritise and assign the work.

  • use templates to automate or eliminate repetitive tasks – such as the steps, resources, and time needed for every marketing activity.  This will help ensure that each job is well planned in advance, including the main tasks, approvals, or milestones.

  • when planning projects, remember to take into consideration public and personal holidays, major events, and other internal work priorities.  This will help you to avoid a scheduling crunch at critical points in the project.

  • realise that sometimes you will need to say no and that this is acceptable.


5. Develop more Flexible Team Working

There’s the old adage that “there is no “I” in team” – yet it can often seem that you are the one always trying to hold everything together and the team isn’t really functioning as well as perhaps it could?  To overcome this you need to put some concerted effort into building the team so that it can function in a more agile and flexible way.  Some things to try are:

  • ensure that you have a communication plan that builds in frequent dialogue with key players from all areas of the project.  As part of this have a forum for ongoing status updates to the team, ideally through an online, central location so you can eliminate most status meetings.

  • don’t over commit your time to “doing”.  In fact it is best to allocate only 60-70% of the available hours to planned work so that you have the flexibility to deal with unexpected work requests or changing priorities.

  • it is also a good idea to schedule “open time” in your daily calendar which is then available for last-minute, ad-hoc projects or on ongoing campaign work rather than meetings.

  • try working on projects in smaller chunks with regular reviews to determine the next steps.  It can help you move more quickly through the process if you only have two or three things to focus on at a time.


6. Know What Everyone is Doing!

Part of working more closely as a team is that you each need to know what the rest of the team is actually doing!  You need to have visibility as to what each team member is working on so that effort is not duplicated and that you know when resources will be available for a new project.  As part of this you need to:

  • set clear stakeholder expectations from the beginning in terms of timings, communication, and budget.

  • ensure that everyone documents all they are doing.  As above, ideally this should be in a central place where others can easily access status updates and be aware of all that is happening.

  • minimise meetings!  Having online status updates should mean that meetings are only then needed to discuss for critical issues.  Reinforce this by using strict agendas to ensure that only the most important items are discussed.


7. Don’t Do Too Much!

We saw above that there are times when you will need to say no.  Even the times when you say yes you still need to manage timings and expectations to ensure that the project does not grow like the proverbial Topsy!  Try some of the following:

  • create a generic standard project timelines.  If you have a clear understanding of the time it typically takes to complete a standard request it will help you to manage expectations, and more realistically forecast it into your team’s schedule.

  • don’t over allocate your time.  In the real world, things will crop up that need to get done so to deal with unexpected work requests or priority changes, it’s a good idea to allocate no more than 60% of the team’s time to planned work.

  • have a backup plan for if/when things do go wrong.  Do you have contingent workers you can use or can you slip something back on one project to accommodate a crisis on another?

  • at times of real pressure, look after your team!  Why not bring in breakfast or lunch to help the workflow?

8. Clever Campaign Planning

Every campaign is an opportunity to learn how to do it better next time!  No matter how busy things get, take time to reflect, learn from your mistakes, and build that learning into the planning for the next campaign.  Here are some tips to get you started:

  • ensure that you share  the campaign production schedule with all of the players involved so that each person understands how their work impacts the overall schedule. Ensure that team members keep track of their tasks and hours in a visible location so that, if a project overruns the estimate, other team members understand why there was an impact to the schedule.

  • when producing proof items, make these available to everyone in the team as soon as possible ideally online—to speed up the process.

  • wherever possible create project templates to make sure that everything runs as smoothly and as consistently as possible.

  • when doing your timings and costs make sure you base this on intelligence from previous projects, to enable accurate estimates of how long the next similar campaign is going to take.


9. Align Marketing Activities with Strategic Business Initiatives

When you are snowed under with pressures it can be easy to take your eye off the overall ball and just do whatever is nearest!   But ultimately work is pointless if it doesn’t benefit the business, so prioritising work based on what will bring the most ROI or other benefit to your organisation is vital.  You therefore need to:

  • know and understand the strategic goals of your business and how your activities align with those goals. Work should be prioritised based on the highest correlation with these strategic goals.

  • have some kind of internal measurement system that objectively evaluates each internal activity.  Even activities that don’t have a direct impact on sales can be measured in terms of qualitative improvement of other processes.

  • be careful not just to do things efficiently but also effectively!  There is no point doing something really well if it is ultimately not achieving results.

  • ensure that you track your resources ie how long each deliverable takes to be completed, and who did it. This allows you to measure output effectively and increases individual accountability.


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10. Centralise Marketing Information

It’s important to ensure that all the tools you use and the information you have available are compatible!  Nothing is more frustrating than having things in different formats and having to reinvent the wheel to pull it all together!  The risk is that people in the team will not have the information they need when they need it; also errors and omissions can easily creep in if information is continually being transferred and reformatted

Often it seems that there are too many tools or processes in play.   In this case, problems can ensue because the tools and processes don’t integrate well or allow data sharing. This creates large voids between different marketing teams and stakeholders, and makes it difficult for senior managers to get all the information they need. In addition, information is scattered amongst the different tools (spreadsheets, emails, meeting notes, etc.). Finding what you need, when you need it, is often time consuming and difficult. It also makes it hard to see who is working on what and when, so in the end, no one is on the same page.

Ideally you need one tool to provide a single, central place to better manage and control the chaos of work and improve visibility and productivity by eliminating wasted time dealing with fragmented tools and processes.  One tool that can effectively track and measure campaigns, better allocate resources, create true collaboration, and provide real-time updates to everyone.

Xcite Digital has a product called Accelerate which is a complete digital marketing programme put together through years of collaborative experience by experts, designed to create opportunities within your target audience.   Accelerate creates a seamless consumer experience across multiple channels leading to a far higher conversion.  It targets consumers at each stage of the buying cycle over multiple channels and platforms, promoting a consistent brand message that builds credibility and leads to conversion.

Accelerate aims to create the digital assets needed to engage with consumers, placing triggers along their emotional buying cycle, motivating them to keep inspired, share and engage with unique content, and promote loyalty and advocacy through the platforms built for them.  Accelerate builds credibility and drives sales.  It appeals both to consumers who need to make an informed decision and those ready to make a purchase. Accelerate builds relationships that lead to sales at a higher volume and also creates solid relationships with customers that in turn incentivise loyalty and generate cyclical campaigns that feed themselves.

Accelerate enables the sales pipeline to be filled with consumers at each stage of the sales cycle creating both short term and long term results.  It leads to a greater number of sales because a consistent brand message is delivered at each stage of the consumer buying cycle and  is communicated seamlessly over multiple channels.  The overall campaign is streamlined using shared knowledge, enabling savings to be made in terms of time, energy and money.

Accelerate also enables results to be tracked so that you can visualise conversion at each stage of the sales cycle allowing both continual improvement and informed decisions to be made.