Ever feel like there’s too much work to do and not enough hands to do them?
Join the club!
Over 80% of marketing teams number five or less, with a whopping 42% being solo operators.
That’s five people (or less) to cover SEM, SEO, content marketing, website updates, product marketing, public relations, social media, and event marketing–just to name a few.
Is it any wonder that marketers are stressed?
It may feel like you’re constantly losing ground, but there are ways to improve your work process and organization so that your team can still meet deadlines, achieve goals, and bring in leads–without doing any overtime.
Here are a few secrets to making that happen:
1. Set priorities properly
Task priorities are simple on the surface. Just do the most important things first, right?
Nope! Reality is a lot messier.
In real-life, task priorities are a dizzying combination of factors that constantly change in weight and scale. You could, in fact, say that prioritization is an art form.
When you prioritize, it helps to remember that your marketing team is part of a larger organization. If there is a task that multiple people are waiting for, have your team get that out the door first so that the ball is kept moving. Don’t be the bottleneck!
Also try to prioritize tasks for projects that drive the business goals forward. Remember, marketing’s ultimate goal is to make the business money, not cross items off a to-do list. Understand where your projects fit into the grand scheme and triage accordingly.
2. Get your team uber-organized
Organization is the best tool you have for successfully wrangling all those marketing tasks. Even the simple act of writing down what you and your team plan to do for the day sharpens your focus and helps eliminate distractions.
Of course, you’re going to have to do a lot more than just daily to-dos if you want your marketing department to make an impact.
For this you’ll need to double-down on project management strategies like having a Kanban board, using Gantt charts to display dependencies, and forecasting the use of resources. You don’t need to have a PMP to do any of this; you just need to know what you want to do, when you want it done, and who’s available to do it.
All of this information can be codified and visually represented in a project management tool. There are many, many, many project management tools available to choose from, each with its individual strengths and weaknesses.
I suggest trying out several before making your decision. You may also want to check with the rest of the organization to see if they’re already using a project management tool, and if you can take it for a test drive.
3. Work in blocks
Many people I know jump from one task to another over the course of a day hoping that, if they do a little bit of every task at a time, they’ll be able to keep everything afloat.
They can’t though. Because multitasking doesn’t work.
Your brain needs time to build up momentum (YSWIDT?), and it can only do that by running on a single track.
Time blocks are a perfect way to organize yourself. Not only can you use time blocks for individual activities, like writing or editing or research, but you can also group blocks by theme, like brands or campaigns, to ensure your day remains cohesive.
So your calendar will end up looking something like this:
Use the same technique for your team, as well. Encourage them to create their own blocks of time and share them on a public calendar so others on their team can either coordinate efforts or properly manage resources.
I’m a fan of the Pomodoro method, which encourages you to break your work day down into 25-minute blocks. There are plenty of Pomodoro web timers and apps to choose from, each with their own collection of extra features and cutesy quirks.
My current favorite is Pomodone, which links your pomodoro timer with your tasks in other apps like Trello.
4. Automation is amazing
Many people watch in fear as robots take on more of our jobs. But for marketers? It’s the best thing ever!
Marketing automation allows a one-person marketing team to do the work of ten. Think of any frequent, time-consuming task that wastes your entire day, and there’s probably a dozen (more) marketing automation tools that can take over.
Just look at these examples:
And those tools are just basic solutions. There are online services like Zapier and IFTTT that let you connect different apps together to create complex, time-saving workflows. For example, you can set up a rule that lets you automatically add people who DM you on Twitter to Salesforce as opportunities.
This leaves you with more time and energy to deal with tasks where you’re providing real value, like setting marketing strategies or analyzing campaign performance.
But I’m not gonna lie to you and say all this will be easy. An automation tool is only as good as the person setting it up. You have to learn how to set up the rules and conditions that the tool will follow to run a campaign, and you still have to write the content that the tool will eventually use.
So no, automation isn’t an easy-breezy answer to your problems, but it’s still way better than sending 3000 emails across six campaigns all by yourself.
If you need help and the company isn’t willing or can’t afford to hire someone on staff, you could always hire outside help.
The beauty of today’s gig economy is that you can outsource damn near anything.
Need someone to do admin work? Hire a VA.
Need a new logo? Hire a graphic designer.
Need someone to keep followers engaged? Hire a community manager.
Need a freelance writer? Ahem.
The main consideration here is whether you need to hire a freelancer, a consultant, or a full-service agency. Each option has its pros and cons.
Freelancers are great for when you have a specific tactical need already in mind. A blog, a video, or a pitch deck to glam up.
Consultants are best suited for situations where you need some additional brain power, like coming up with a digital marketing strategy or streamlining your internal workflows. If you need help executing, they’ll probably hire their own freelancers or source some for you.
Agencies are self-contained teams that have large goals. Major campaigns for instance, or long-term management of your marketing operations. They answer to you, but they drive most of the ideation and execution.
Who you eventually hire depends on your available budget and the required need. Prices for each can scale depending on the outsourced resource’s experience, expertise, and specialization.
Don’t drown in your task list!
Take stock, get organized, and get some help! You may need to spend some of your hard-earned marketing budget on tools and external manpower, but they’re still way cheaper (and, in their way, more effective) than hiring a new employee–which your Finance department will appreciate.
It’ll take some effort to find and set yourself up with these solutions, but the payoff is a much more manageable workload.
So get cracking!