Do you wake up each morning and have to reprioritize or reevaluate that day's To Do list? Are you continually getting lost in your list, or do you waste time on tasks that don't matter? Is asking you to fit marketing into your routine just crazy talk?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, hopefully today's post will help.
And last week, we also talked about marketing plans, defined them, and stressed their importance. They are a valuable document many people tend to overlook, but they can be enormously helpful in defining priorities, even at a weekly and daily level. And once the work of creating your marketing plan is done, you're way ahead of the game!
The next obstacle, now that you have a plan in place (if you don't, more below), is figuring out how to execute it on a daily basis. Small business owners and employees like you have a wide variety of items on their plate. And marketing in all its forms can often take a backseat to more "pressing" matters. I totally get it. But effective marketing is how you can get ahead. It's a key to not only sustaining your organization, but growing it. And who doesn't want that?
Even better, you can create your daily To Do list from your marketing plan! The easiest way I've found to do this is to essentially put your marketing plan document into an Excel sheet. You can even download a copy of mine here.
How to Create Your Marketing To Do List
This Excel sheet is, of course, customizable, so I encourage you to make it your own, and add any fields that you think will help you and your organization.
- Item - Easy enough to pull right off your marketing plan. This could include print ads, email blasts, social media scheduling, and similar.
- Date - I like to include the public date. For example, when an ad will show up in a magazine, or when the social media post goes live on Facebook. It's usually a good idea to sort the sheet by this date so the more urgent items show closer to the top.
- Circulation - Because I was in public relations, I still like to look at these numbers. They're also helpful to see how they increase or decrease year to year. So, for a magazine ad, the circulation is how many issues are printed. But when talking about a Facebook post, you can include how many followers you have for your page or how many people saw it. Whatever you decide, I suggest including numbers that give you some perspective on how many people are seeing or interacting with your efforts. This can help indicate if your strategy and budget are working.
- Status - I like to know where I'm at on a task. Is it complete, submitted, drafted, with the designer, etc?
- Notes - Always a good idea!
Another option is to add a column for items that need to be updated later, like web graphics. If you're working on a launch, as an example, then post-launch, you'll need to go back and update your website, social profiles, and things like that. So, it can be helpful to have a column that triggers you to take that action.
Additionally, you might consider creating categories for big deadlines if you have a long-term project, initiative, or event. For example, the annual conference that I worked on had four major deadlines throughout the year. Opening day took place in the fall, we had another deadline before the end of the year, one late winter, and one early spring. So, I created categories on the Excel sheet to make everything easier to look at in a glance for each "bucket" in the timeline. To make this happen, you can simply skip a few lines between tasks for each major deadlines and use a colored line to separate them. Now, the entire event is still on the same Excel sheet, but I can see tasks associated with each deadline separately as well.
As you see, its not overly complicated. It's actually a pretty simple layout. But it is extremely productive, and will help you stay on task. Using this format was a lifesaver for me when I managed five events that each had their own deadlines and associated tasks.
Be sure to add every item you can think of, even smaller details like changing staff signatures, or emailing staff and key stakeholders with updated information. Anything you can put on this list moves it out of your head, where it may have a chance to get lost.
I realize this format is unlikely to take the place of your current To Do list in its entirety. There are always other odds and ends that need to happen as well, especially if you wear multiple hats. However, it should go a long way in helping you organize your marketing and communications efforts so that they can become a larger priority in your week, rather than continually put on the back burner, never to be reheated again.
What if you don't have a marketing plan?
Many of you probably find yourselves in this category. But don't worry, all is not lost!
Remember when you were in school and you had to create an outline for your research paper? Which did you do first? For me, it was easier to write the paper and then the outline, for some reason. The same principle applies here. Try creating your in-depth To Do list first, if you feel that needs your attention now. Then you'll be able to write your marketing plan from there.
But I do encourage you to eventually go back and write your marketing plan. For all the reasons why, check out last week's post.
Whether you're creating your task list from a marketing plan, or starting with the list and moving backwards, this should make your day-to-day much easier. It can be oh so helpful to see everything laid out in front of you at a glance rather than juggling a bunch of papers, separate lists, or keeping it locked up in your head.
Now you know what you need to do that day by referencing this task list because you have every item and deadline in black and white on one sheet. So, if you see that an email blast needs to go out in two weeks, you can work backward depending on how long it takes you to prepare it. Both short-term and long-term items are visible, helping you to manage your time better.
This will, of course, take some trial and error. If you are a person who loves systems, like me, you may adapt more easily. If you are used to playing your days more fast and loose, you may have more trouble initially, but implementing this idea will save you time and frustration because you'll automatically understand what each day has in store from a marketing and communications perspective.
As a result, you'll begin working further out, which removes a lot of the added stress of being in reaction mode or the frustration of working on projects in the wrong order. Your days can be tackled with greater intention, making better use of precious time.
Let me know how it goes!
And don't forget to download my task list template.
"This spreadsheet idea has saved my life, and made me so much more productive in the past year." - Erin J., Orange
Finally, you may also be wasting time on a few things that are sucking up your time, and not getting you anywhere. Wouldn't you love to free up some time and energy, so you can begin to focus more on what matters most?
PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:
I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.