It is almost a new year, which means it is time to make some New Year’s Resolutions! In the midst of all things PPC related, many of us need to improve on time management. Having great time management skills can set you up for success in all areas while having poor time management skills can derail everything! I’ve come up with some tactics that have helped me effectively manage my time while also planning for the unplanned.
Before I began my career in PPC, I was a high-school math teacher for over 8 years. My love of learning new things is thriving in this new role! Not only that, but I also get the opportunity to help teach others while fulfilling my love for numbers. As a teacher, I was a planner to my core! I had personalized planners and a slew of planning tools at my disposal. I learned pretty quickly in agency life, that being able to manage your time wisely can help prevent encountering some stressful situations.
Most likely, all have been in situations where we are behind in accomplishing a set of tasks we needed to complete yesterday; and then something else pops up that needs immediate attention. This stressful situation can lead to sloppy work, mistakes, and burnout. Here are some helpful tools to practice to help with managing your time:
You need to develop an organizational system that works best for you. I am a huge fan of creating to-do lists. Every Friday afternoon, I work on planning out the next week. I love the satisfaction of checking off a task. Another tactic I utilize is time blocking. If I know that I need to dedicate time to a specific task, I block it off on my calendar. This helps me plan my day while reminding me to make sure I accomplish what I need to.
It is also helpful to develop a system to complete routine tasks. I usually dedicate Tuesday mornings to run my weekly reports. Think of typically recurring tasks to help develop your checklist of things to do. The more organized you are, the more productive you will be. My biggest suggestion while finding the system that works for you is to try many! Ask those around you what system they use to stay organized and give it a try!
Prioritization and Goal Setting
When I am creating the next’s week to-do list I separate tasks into 3 different lists: Must Do, Should Do, and Want to Do. I prioritize my tasks based on their importance as well as urgency. This helps me balance out my weekly schedule to accomplish more. The tasks that don’t get accomplished one week help me start my list for the following week. The key while creating this is to be flexible. Things always pop up and tasks will always be shifted. Don’t procrastinate on important tasks or you might find yourself overwhelmed with things you need to get done. Just this past month I have had to unexpectedly miss out on work time because of a sick child which led to getting sick myself. Planning ahead helps alleviate some of the stress that comes with the unexpected.
One thing that I have learned is to delegate out tasks if possible. The first of each month tends to be extra busy with all of the reporting that takes place so I try to keep things like this in mind while I am planning out my lists. I always create calendar events that remind me about upcoming deadlines for large projects.
I always create goals for things I want to accomplish each week/month. My goals usually have to do with completing some kind of more in-depth analysis within parts of my accounts. I also create goals around learning new things. In this industry, with so many moving parts and so many new things being introduced, make sure you schedule time to learn. Block off time to spend perusing blog posts on industry news or research a new platform you have been wanting to try.
Despite all of the planning and prep you do, you still might find yourself in a stressful situation. Hopefully, with great prioritization and time management skills, you won’t find yourself here often. When it does happen, make sure you take time to think about what could be done in the future to prevent it. I used to work as a server at a popular restaurant when I was in college, and sometimes I would have dreams about work where I was the only server available and people just kept coming in the doors. I was completely overwhelmed, and it was extremely stressful. I used to have this dream all of the time until I started thinking about what I would do if I actually found myself in that situation. When I started to think through all of the things I could do to handle it, it started to feel less overwhelming. If you find yourself in a moment of panic and you feel completely overwhelmed, take a minute to think things through. Is there someone you can go to for help? Do you need to make a change within your organizational system? Here are some additional ways to help you de-stress and create a work habit that prevents those moments.
Creating work habits that are effective in helping you manage your time is essential to increase your productivity and decrease stress levels. The more organized I become, the more I enjoy working. I encourage everyone to take some time to think about what your current system is and explore new ways to help you become more managed and effective.
Getting started with the Agile Marketing Navigator: Aligning on a Guidepoint
We recently introduced you to Agile Marketing Navigator, a flexible framework for navigating agile marketing for marketers, by marketers. We also held a Zoom meeting to discuss the Navigator with members of the agile marketing community.
The Navigator has four major components: Collaborative Planning Workshop, Launch Cycle, Key Practices and Roles. Within these categories, there are several sub-pieces for implementation. Over the next several weeks, we’ll dive into each piece and give you practical, actionable ways to use them at your company.
The collaborative planning workshop
To begin with, we’ll start at the top with the Collaborative Planning Workshop. The Collaborative Planning Workshop brings alignment to what the team is trying to achieve and empowers marketers to focus on customer value and business outcomes over activity and outputs. This session should happen quarterly or at the start of any large campaign or initiative.
Where most agile frameworks begin with the backlog of work for the team, we found it very important to start at a higher level and ensure alignment is happening between the agile marketing team and the key stakeholders asking for work from the team.
One of the biggest challenges we’re addressing with the Collaborative Planning Workshop is the disconnect between the stakeholders who ask for work and the team on the hook for delivery. Way too often, the people setting the marketing strategy and the designers, copywriters, social media specialists and others don’t have a seat at the adult table. Work comes to them in the form of the creative brief via an electronic system, but there’s no conversation. They aren’t being treated like marketers but rather as producers of output.
The Collaborative Planning Workshop is just what it says—a collaborative conversation where everyone is on an equal playing field and striving towards successful outcomes.
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This framework begins with everyone understanding the actual business reasons for success and alignment on a Guidepoint. Here’s how we define the Guidepoint in the Agile Marketing Navigator:
“The Guidepoint helps the team and stakeholders navigate what success looks like for an upcoming campaign or project. Stakeholders come to the workshop with a business goal for the organization. During the workshop, the group comes up with a short written description, called a Guidepoint, of what success looks like for this marketing initiative and how it aligns to the organization’s goals.”
The Guidepoint is the connective tissue that rolls upward and downward in the organization. It’s often the forgotten middle layer between what the stakeholder is on the hook for and the tactics executed by the marketing team to achieve success.
The Guidepoint aligns the agile marketing team and stakeholders on a shared purpose and creates a focus on the team’s outcomes. It also helps with prioritization, so work that’s not aligned gets a lower priority or isn’t done at all.
Here are a few example scenarios to get you started:
Business Goal: Acquire an additional 5,000 new patients during the first year after the grand opening of our new hospital.
Guidepoint: Create a campaign targeting elective surgery candidates that generates 1,500 leads that ultimately generate a higher than average conversion rate than the industry average.
Business Goal: Increase cart checkout dollar amounts by 10 percent over last year.
Guidepoint: Launch a campaign targeting suggestive add-on purchases, moving the average cart checkout price to $50.
Industry: Financial Services
Business Goal: Generate a 25% increase in our personal finance app downloads in 2022.
Guidepoint: Generate an average of 50 new downloads apps with an activation rate of 25%.
Ideally, you have an agile marketing team formed with a straight line to a stakeholder and business goals that need to be achieved, which makes it pretty easy to focus on a single Guidepoint at a time.
However, many marketing teams haven’t streamlined this way and must support multiple lines of business at once. In those cases, we suggest no more than three Guidepoints at once for the team, or they’ll quickly lose focus. If this becomes problematic, the marketing owner on the team will need to work with key leaders to determine the most important business goals for the organization and prioritize them accordingly. Some teams have had great success determining percentages of time each stakeholder gets based on the business value of their line of business.
We can only succeed for a clear, focused outlook on what success looks like for the marketing team and the organization as a whole.
Many marketers struggle to apply agile marketing in a way that adds value to team members. Learn how to break that pattern in this free e-book, “MarTech’s Guide to agile marketing for teams”.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.
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