Marketing Strategy: Time as a Resource
When you’re building a marketing plan, you always want to account for the budget. You need to know how much it will cost to implement your idea. Money is the language of almost every business owner.
And yet, lack of money is usually not the reason why marketing initiatives fail. No one ever said, ‘I surely could’ve been successful with that marketing project, if only I had more money to spend on it.’ It doesn’t work like that.
We advocate for allocating a far more important – and scarce – resource into your company’s marketing plans: Time.
SMART Goals, Right?
You know the acronym: SMART. Make goals that are:
The issue with this is that we tend to set goals on a project-based timeframe: How long will it take to complete this? When should Part One be finished before we move on to Part Two?
But time isn’t linear. It’s a resource that is easily spent, cannot be gained back once it’s lost, and grossly underestimated. You can break a project down into number of hours per activity, but until you redefine how time is used and how it’s incorporated into a marketing plan, a project-based time allocation will continue to fall short.
Time as a Resource
It’s estimated that as many as nine out of ten companies fail to implement strategic plans. Although there are many reasons for this, it’s hard to make progress when 86 percent of business owners and managers spend an hour or less on strategy each month.
So often we spend our days meeting short-term deadlines that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Get stuck on daily problems too often and you’ll find yourself unable to focus on long-term solutions.
In strategic marketing plans, much thought is given to activities, expenses, and timelines. True costs, like realistic time commitments, are either underestimated or ignored completely. For instance, if you decide that a regular e-newsletter will help you communicate to clients, but you don’t account for how long it takes to write articles, the plan is set up to fail.
Manage Your Time
Treating time as a resource is only possible when you understand how you spend it. Follow these ten tips to get a better handle on your day-to-day time management.
Log your time You’d be surprised how much time throughout the day can be wasted on email, social media, and random distractions.
Stop procrastinating There are different theories on how to approach difficult or less fun tasks. Find one that works for you.
Avoid multi-tasking Or as we like to call it, Shiny Objects Syndrome. As more research indicates, it’s the opposite of productive.
Prioritize What’s important, and what’s urgent? The two are usually at odds, but can work together when you focus on the bigger goal.
Be committed If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, there are limits to what you can accomplish well, if at all. If you’re not committed to the project, ask yourself why you’re spending time on it in the first place.
Less busyness, more mindfulness Busyness is not the badge of honor we’ve been led to believe.
Set time limits When your “time” is up, move on to something else. Period.
Block off time Let your colleagues know there are certain times of the day when you’re unavailable. Use those precious blocks of time wisely.
Make meetings count Meetings are cousins to Shiny Objects Syndrome unless done properly. Start on time, have an agenda, end on time.
Delegate You can’t do it all; nor should you. In fact, marketing plans work best when the whole team is involved.
Bringing It Together
How do you incorporate these tips into marketing plans? Here are a couple examples.
From the scenario above, another way to approach starting a newsletter begins with the initial planning phase. Track how long it takes you to write one article, accounting for research and editing. Then, look at your current workload. Delegate research to your staff. Block off certain times of the day to work on the newsletter. Shut off your phone and turn off email notifications until you’re done. Set a time limit of two hours, then edit and revise. Only write articles you’re truly excited about, or don’t write them at all.
It’s a simple change in approach that will help to manage expectations and properly account for time from the beginning.
But newsletters are simple to execute, you say. What about a multi-layered plan to promote a new product or service? Once you identify the core components of your marketing strategy:
Limit distractions by focusing on at most three or four goals at a time.
Break the goals into manageable parts that will allow you to see some progress in a short time frame (balanced with the long-term goal).
Delegate specific tasks to your team.
Keep meetings short and in small groups, but maintain regular communication about what’s working and what’s not.
Decide which tactics are urgent or important.
Make a list and divide the tactics into categories in order of priority. Your goal is to decrease the work that is not important, regardless of urgency.
Finally, block off time on your calendar to advance strategic initiatives.
There’s much more to implementing strategic marketing plans than time allocation, of course. Tracking and measuring progress, executive buy-in, communication and culture, ownership and accountability, processes and structure, and other resources all need considered. How much of that can you directly control?
The good thing about time is that you can control exactly how you spend yours. Hopefully we gave you some useful ideas to incorporate into your business, regardless of how large or small your marketing plan is.