When it comes to business, time management is a critical component to success, yet is often badly managed at almost every level. This problem has root causes but is affected by fundamental features of the workplace.
In every different situation the allocation of time and resources may be entirely different, but in all cases the effective use of time follows a highly predictable pattern. Once this pattern is understood and its importance recognised, the matter of ensuring a consistent and optimal approach is a simple process.
This approach is best known within a template called the Eisenhower Decision Matrix. It looks a little something like this:
The idea is to recognise and differentiate the needs of tasks, and to assign time and resources in order to compensate for the importance or urgency required. In all cases urgent and important tasks take precedence, with important but non-urgent tasks to be completed afterwards.
Why this approach doesn’t work in Marketing
Marketing, as a term, encompasses a wide variety of activities. From introducing new website features to creating billboard promotions. Variety is just part of life as a marketing professional.
This can certainly suit a creative type of person, but it can also impact how important tasks can seem. For instance: is it more important to update website content and images to ensure existing promotions continue to generate profit or to create new content and design materials for a new product launch? In these cases, both of the tasks are treated as equally important and urgent, which can lead to problems such as stress (due to large workloads) and a lack of time to actually plan the next steps.
It is due to this fact that Marketers often rely on the schedules of others in order to define the level of need. The creation of timescales and work order more often comes from who has the biggest need in that moment, and not on what will generate the most revenue for the business.
Additionally, much marketing work happens separately from the work itself: via agencies or across departments; with no idea about the priorities and timetable of that department. It may be the case, for instance, that a Director who needs to sign off the project is away on the week prior to the due date. In this case, the importance and urgency is completely different.
Luckily there is a single answer to this question, but unfortunately it demands a dedication to a particular approach which is difficult to master.
Communication: The Cornerstone of Marketing
There is a common saying: ‘Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you.’
Often people think the takeaway from this saying is either: learn from your mistakes, or else don’t fool other people just to show them up (because it may have negative effects). The truth is that this could easily be a quote about marketing. The Marketer is not fooled; they do not have time to be fooled! The Marketers job is to listen and not make the mistake of being manipulated into short timescales – to ask the questions which will remove any risk of it happening and make clear the existing use of time in ways that others can understand.
The skill in marketing is understanding what the other person wants, recognising any roadblocks and finding a way to meet all of the client needs successfully.
It also means communicating challenges in a positive way: expressing the need for time to be spent in order to get the job done correctly; and critically explaining how long is required to get from point A to point B.
This focus suits a particular type of mindset: the type who do not simply state a problem, but rather those types of people who enjoy the challenge of actively solving those problems. In essence then, marketing is problem solving: how to achieve something which is relatively difficult to overcome; and relaying what is required back to the client.
Life: The Big Marketing Scenario
We are born, unable to care for ourselves – kicking and screaming from day one as we enter this world. From then on we are presented with a series of impossible challenges; growing in complexity and skill with time; demanding the use of our brains in order to overcome them.
This is the analogy I like most when it comes to marketing. We are presented with a challenge so complex and convoluted that making sense of it all can be a significant challenge.
Just like life though: rules matter; focusing on certain areas can be far more fruitful that others; and developing good habits can ensure a long and prosperous existence.
So the burning questions are:
- What the rules to the Marketing game and why do they matter?
- What are the fruitful areas in which to focus time and attention?
- What are the habits which are best to get into? (and why?)
Over the next couple of weeks we will be covering these topics in more detail – building a picture of how to achieve excellence in marketing.
Interested in Marketing?
We run both simple and advanced marketing courses throughout the year. They are designed to provide key tools to Marketing staff in order to help them achieve more within their roles.