Updated: Nov 16, 2020
Discover how making a few small changes to your marketing plans and work habits can help you feel more organised, creative and focused.
It is not uncommon for Marketing Directors, Head of Marketing and CMOs to reach the end of their tethers, at about the same time they reach the end of their strategic planning cycle!
Nearing year end with a long list of objectives and tasks still to tick off, is not a great place to be
Are your ‘organisational skills’ helping or hindering your marketing plans?
When you think about it, Marketing Directors wear many hats.
You are responsible for your organisation’s marketing and communications strategies as well as overseeing overall branding and image.
In a multidisciplinary, large or global businesses, you’ll be expected to juggle different audiences and competing priorities.
What other field throws together data-driven individuals with creatives, demanding both support with the day-to-day running of the business while at the same time insisting on a clear and focussed plan for the future?
One thing which will make your job easier is to be organised, and it’s never too late to start.
Introducing the six tips and tools that will help
Organisation is not a talent you’re born with, but a skill you can learn, and there’s still time to get your year in order. We’re not talking about scheduling your day in 5-minute intervals, but rather making a few small changes to your general work habits.
1) Remember you are a creative…
You are a creative and you need space to create.
I say remember you are a creative, because sometimes it doesn’t feel like it when you are bogged down in budgeting spreadsheets, metrics reports and line management admin.
When you are feeling uninspired, allow yourself to take a break from your desk and indulge in whatever gives you space to think. Ideally you want to be scheduling in ‘thinking time’ in your work diary everyday or at least once a week.
Experiment with what works for you:
maybe it is playing with your kids in the fresh air,
perhaps Friday afternoon brainstorming session at the pub,
checking out a mid-week art exhibition or
a Monday morning walk in the park
The more relaxed and inspired we are, the higher the dopamine levels in our brain are and the stronger our creativity becomes in general.
You might not be struck by a lightning bolt of inspiration immediately, but you will find your creativity is stronger in general.
There is a reason some of the most creative agencies on the planet have Friday afternoons off in the summer and dogs in the office, not to mention those beer fridges!
ACTION: Schedule in thinking time in your diary for the next month, now
2) Get more client face time
Sometimes marketing people get told “you don’t understand” or “you aren’t close enough to the business”. And sometimes it is true!
That disconnect makes it difficult to provide value-add client insight, an area where marketing can really shine.
So take every opportunity to get face to face with your clients. This might mean doing some client focus groups, or asking to attend client meetings with fee earners or sales reps, key account review or even getting involved in the odd pitch. Attend networking events, make introductions, follow up.
This – paired with all those great metrics reports you are putting together every week or month – will position you as the voice of the client in the room.
Being the voice of the client in the room not only makes you better at your job, but it makes you more likely to be promoted.
A recent study showed 21% of all FTSE 100 CEOs are now coming from a sales or marketing background and that client empathy was cited as a key factor
ACTION: Write down what actions you will take in the next 6 months to get closer to your clients, and fire off a few emails to get the ball rolling
3) Three is your lucky number
Identify and prioritise three simple objectives relating to your business strategy and get buy-in above and below.
If, say, you want to humanise your brand in the face of automation, your marketing mantra might be we want to create more opportunities to get face-to-face with clients, limit what we print and email out and position our experts as thought-leaders.
This will then steer everything you do, from online user journeys to how often you send out communications to what your next event theme is.
Be specific, so for example in the ‘humanised brand’ example above, your three associated goals around meeting more clients, limiting print and email and positioning expertise, might be:
develop strong calls to action to drive 20% uplift in unique online users to signing up to June event
focus on people, not products by increasing our event and PR budget and decreasing mailshots and DM budget
print magazine reduced to quarterly and all e-marketing to be streamlined to monthly e-letters, with personalisation options and a revolving lead feature on one of our experts
Action: if you only do one thing, do this: write down your three objectives and keep coming back to them
4) Do less, better
Set yourself a weekly goal to help you move forward, and stay focused on those three priorities.
Be extra judicious about what so-called urgent distractions vie for your attention, because if by the end of the year you’re drowning in unread emails but you’ve achieved your three key objectives, you are winning at life! (Or at least at effective marketing)
ACTION: over the next 3 working days, make a note of where you spend your time
5) Automate the rest
Why waste time on tasks that can otherwise be done at the push of a button, when you could be spending time on high-value work that accelerates the progress of your three priorities?
Identify what can be delegated, streamlined or automated. There is a whole virtual world of tools just waiting to be utilized.
Almost 70% of marketing leaders use some form of marketing automation software
Chatbots can be used to understand customer needs and behaviours, social media tools such as Hootsuite and BuzzSumo can help you schedule social media posts in advance and come up with content strategies, and email automation tools can send triggered emails, imbed forms and a host of other nifty tricks.
Taking some time to do this will ultimately free up time in the long run, and besides, all the cool kids are doing it.
Almost 70% of marketing leaders use some form of marketing automation software and in the first half of 2018, companies invested over $58 million in chatbot technology alone.
ACTION: look at your time list and then identify what you can automate, delegate or just stop doing!
5) Resource up
Creativity and innovation don’t cope well with uniformity so make sure your marketing team is the furthest it can be from homogeneous – both in terms of background and skills.
A 2018 McKinsey & Company study found that companies which were diverse in terms of gender were 21% more likely to outperform others on profitability, and those which were diverse in terms of ethnicity and culture were 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability.
Creativity and innovation don’t cope well with uniformity. Avoid homogeny at all costs.
Further inject new perspectives and keep agile by cultivating a network of freelancers, remote workers and interim marketers.
When a team needs to be innovative in its output, it benefits from diversity
-Edward Smith, associate professor of management and organizations at Northwestern -University’s Kellogg School of Management.
ACTION: Look around. If your whole team thinks, looks or acts just like you - you have blind spots. If you aren’t in a position to hire new people right now, make sure you are cultivating a network of freelancers and agencies that give you new perspectives and up your creativity.
So that’s it. Not rocket science, but a few little tweaks here and there can make the world of difference to your stress levels, your career and your marketing plan.