10 Ways to Cut Your Marketing Time in Half
Ditch the overwhelm and go home early. Earn a raise and even a promotion. These ten productivity tips for marketers can help you
Marketers are busy people.
No kidding, right? If you’ve ever met someone in marketing, you definitely knew that.
So how busy are we, really? So busy that we work through weekends, answer emails after work… maybe even skip lunch most days?
Yup. All those things are true. And while it’s great to have a strong work ethic, overworking isn’t a realistic long-term solution. When we’re overworked, we make mistakes. We’re less creative. And we’re definitely less fun to be around.
Basically, we aren’t as good at our jobs.
So if the solution isn’t to just log more hours, what can we do?
Basically, we need to be more efficient with the hours we do have. Much more efficient.
In a sense, we marketers need to master more than just marketing. We need to be productivity ninjas, too.
Fortunately, this isn’t out of reach. It just requires working a little bit differently than you have before.
1. Develop workflows and checklists – for everything.
Do you have a pre-defined process for everything you do? If not, you may be working less efficiently than you could be. A recent Workfront study of marketers found that 33% said “lack of standard processes for workflow” was one of the top things that get in the way of their work.
Not having processes may also be limiting how much help you can get, too. Because if only you know how things are done… only you can do them.
But there’s another reason to use workflows and checklists: They prevent mistakes.
Ever sent an email announcement out that had a typo? Ever published a blog post with a broken link? Or discovered you were running an ad that is no longer relevant?
Checklists prevent mistakes like that. It’s why pilots use them every single time they fly.
Want to know more about how to implement this? Use Copyblogger’s example of a checklist to optimize your content marketing work. Or use it as a template for other marketing checklists you need to make.
2. Have a content library.
Stop me if you’ve ever done this before: Been on a deadline to create a new piece of content, only to realize you made an infographic last year that would really complement it. So you start searching old project folders, old emails, and start asking coworkers… only to find different iterations of the infographic, but not the actual image you want to use… until you’re two hours into the search.
Stop the madness. Take the time and create a “content library” or “digital asset library” of every piece of content you’ve ever created.
Keep all your marketing collateral and content assets in that place. Use naming conventions for every filename. Make sure the system and those naming conventions make sense to someone besides you, and even people outside your team.
Having a content library will speed up your content production time, but that’s not even the biggest benefit. The biggest benefit is that it will show you which content pieces and marketing pieces you already have. That means you won’t be re-creating content and other assets you’ve already got.
Given that 60 to 70% of content goes unused, this one practice can save you literally weeks or months of work every year.
3. Use an editorial calendar.
“Juggler” probably doesn’t appear anywhere in your job description. But let’s face it: That’s what most marketers do.
Between the blog, advertising, conferences, product launches, and collaboration with other departments, you probably have at least a dozen projects going at once.
That makes for a lot of deadlines. And a lot of opportunities for the dreaded “Oh no – that’s due tomorrow!”
These scheduling crunches make for rushing, stress, exhaustion and often even sloppy work. Tight turnarounds can increase your operation costs, too.
Editorial calendars can help you avoid these problems. Once you’ve got your workflows, you can build an effective editorial calendar that alerts different members of your team about what is due, and when, and from whom.
That makes everybody’s work far more predictable and far less stressful. And thus much more productive.
4. Minimize meetings.
How many hours a week do you spend in meetings? If you’re like most people, it’s way, way too much time.
Office workers spend up to 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings. And that’s not even all the meetings they’re attending – it’s just the unproductive ones!
The Harvard Business Review has a great calculator that will permanently drive home how much each meeting costs your organization. It asks you how many people will be attending, what their salaries are, and how long the meeting will last. From there, it calculates the cost of the meeting.
For example, a one-hour meeting of five people with salaries of $50,000 costs $175. Over the span of a year, it costs $9,100.
It’s entirely possible that meeting will generate enough revenue to cover its cost… but are you sure?
If you’re not, here are a few ways to trim the time spent on meetings:
- Have “standing only” meetings.
Standing can cut meeting times by 34%.
- Schedule meetings only in certain blocks of time.
One of the biggest problems with meetings is how they break up working time. They interrupt “deep work”. So schedule “meeting-free” times companywide so people get at least a few blocks of long, uninterrupted time. For example, try setting a soft rule that all meetings should be scheduled on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. That gives schedulers lots of flexibility and gives workers two days a week of uninterrupted time.
- Use project management software.
Use it efficiently enough that you no longer need the dreaded “status meeting”. We have the technology: Workers should know how to just check a digital status board to see what everyone is doing. There’s no need to eat up two hours a week for everyone to announce what they’re working on.
- Do not have anyone in the meeting that doesn’t need to be there.
There are way too many companies who just require everyone to be in meetings en masse, whether they have anything to contribute or not. Instead, write good summaries of your meetings, and don’t require attendance from anyone who doesn’t have to be there. Let them spend their time working instead.
- Try a one-month meeting “fast”.
Yup: No meetings at all for a month. It’s the only way to really know which meetings you truly need to have. Just be prepared for when a few small emergencies pop up.
5. Don’t use email for project management.
Email is such a time sink that it fills two points on this list, but I want to give the most common email abuser its own section here.
Namely, the practice of trying to use emails for threaded conversations, especially when they’re between more than two people.
Instead, try any one of the project management tools. Slack is great and widely used. Asana is good. So are Trello, Evernote and many, many others.
Whatever you use, use something besides email. It was not designed for project management, and it will only slow you down.
6. Automate everything you can.
Marketing automation is getting a lot of exposure these days. It’s not surprising: If you can set up triggered messages to lead people through your sales funnel, it means you have one less thing to do. You still have to manage, track and test those messages, but at least sending them is automated.
Marketers can also automatically post content to social media, and we can set up systems that automatically remind our coworkers when something is due (see the section about editorial calendars above).
But there’s, even more, you can do. Especially if you automate report creation.
There’s no need to spend an hour or more every day generating and re-generating the different reports your company or clients need. There’s also no reason to create one general report for a group of people who all want to see different information.
Once your reports are automated, you’ll have more than enough time to go in and create specialized reports for each person. With our new customizable reports, you can send people exactly the information they want and nothing more. Even if that information comes from more than one platform or account.
So your coworkers or clients don’t need to see multiple reports for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter information. Or even multiple reports for social media and Google Analytics; for advertising or landing page performance. All that information can automatically be combined into one view – one report. And it can all be scheduled and sent automatically.
So if your boss just has to have a report on your Facebook advertising sent every single day, no problem. Once you’ve got the automation set up, it won’t take up any extra time.
7. Streamline your inbox.
Getting all those project management emails out of your inbox will help a lot, but we’re not done yet. Next, try:
- Unsubscribing from every email newsletter you can.
- Automatically archiving emails where you can.
Got a few newsletters you just can’t bear to unsubscribe from? No problem. Use the filters in your email account to automatically redirect them to the appropriate folders.
Maybe you’ll want to create a folder for each important newsletter. Maybe you’ll want to create a “Read Later” folder. However you manage your inbox, just set it up so you don’t have to keep manually moving each email to where it belongs.
It might seem like this only takes a few seconds per email, but consider this: The average office worker gets at least 100 emails per day. If it takes a mere 5 seconds per email to send them to the right folder, that’s 500 seconds a day.
At first, it sounds like 500 seconds is no big deal. But do the math: 500 seconds a day works out to 34.72 hours a year. That’s almost a full week’s work!
8. Outsource repetitive tasks.
You don’t have to do everything, you know. Especially if it’s a repetitive task.
Here are just a few things you could outsource:
- Creating shareable images for your social media posts and other content.
Not ready to hire a designer… or maybe you have a designer who needs to be working on other things? Services like DesignPickle and Undullify cost only a couple hundred dollars or less a month. They can save you and your team several days worth of work.
- Laying out email newsletters and other email announcements.
For this, you may need a full-service virtual assistant. But there are plenty of them around. Check the Virtual Assistant tool to find the right VA for you.
- Any kind of research or data entry.
Guru.com, Fiverr or Upwork can help with tasks like this. Start with people who have at least ten good reviews and relevant task experience.
- Content promotion.
Services like Quuu Promote and Blog Pros can help here.
- WordPress maintenance and management.
Many virtual assistants offer this, as do most good website designers. But if you’d rather not go that route, consider a service like Cinch or WP Site Care. They’ll save you several hours a month… and as many headaches.
9. Re-share your older content.
When you publish a new piece of content, do you share it once or twice on social media, and then move on to the next piece?
If you do, you’re definitely not alone. But you’re definitely wasting a major opportunity.
Re-sharing your “older content” has a bunch of benefits. First, it will save you time by filling up your social media queues. Second, it will get you more traffic to your content. That additional traffic should translate into more leads, more sales and more revenue.
Here’s a graph showing how much additional traffic Stone Template Consulting got by re-sharing one of their blog posts:
The best part of resharing is how easy it is to do. Most social media management tools give you a way to reshare older content with just a click or two. Other tools, like Hiplay or MeetEdgar, let you create a content library that automatically reshares content.
So how often should you be re-sharing content, and for how long? It depends on the social media platform, but any content that’s less than a year old should be getting reshared fairly regularly. So aim to have about 15% of your posts promote “older” content.
On Twitter, where most marketers tweet several times a day, that might mean re-sharing every blog post you’ve published in the last year at least once a week. On LinkedIn people tend to post less often, like twice a day, so you might want to re-share each blog post once a month or maybe every two weeks on LinkedIn.
There’s no hard no rule for resharing, except to do it. And don’t worry too much about boring your audience. Realistically, less than 10% of them will see any single post. By resharing, you’re not boring people – you’re actually just reaching more of your audience.
10. Pay attention to your analytics data.
Here’s why: there are things you’re doing that may not be worth the work.
Maybe it’s a social media platform that’s not getting you enough returns. Maybe it’s a conference that’s just more work than it’s worth.
Whatever it is, you need to stop doing it.
So much of productivity advice suggests “do this, do that” – and that’s fine. But for this last point, consider this: What could you stop doing? Which tactics, channels, platforms or processes just really aren’t working well?
Your analytics data can tell you that. It can also help you make a clear, data-based case to your boss or your client about why a particular project or task needs to stop.
And stopping unsuccessful projects definitely saves a lot of time.
Your title says “Marketer”. And you undoubtedly do a lot of marketing.
But you’re also a juggler, a scheduler, technology user, a manager, and a publisher – all rolled into one.
Balancing those roles takes some finesse. Some things can be managed with technology. Some things can be managed by outsourcing. Some can be outsourced, and some can be strategically cut.
It’s your job to choose the right tactic at the right time – as much as it’s your job to use the right marketing tactic at the right time. Both skill sets are required now.