The holiday season has officially ended and while some of us are still taking down our trees and packing away ornaments, 2017 is well upon us.
The break that the vast majority of marketers get at the end of the year helps us start the new year refreshed, replenished and ready to create some kickass marketing programs.
This year, instead of focusing on being productive, let’s change our approach to becoming more effective in our marketing. Truly effective people are not just focused on getting as many things done as possible. Instead, time needs to be spent prioritizing, pushing boundaries and finding ways to enjoy what you do for an extended period of time.
Start this year off right creating small, healthy habits that will ward away the mid-year slump that often rears it’s early head as early as quarter one. The tips below will help you stay focused long past the first quarter of the year.
# 1 – Always Have A Plan
Without a plan to help guide your actions for the year, it will be incredibly difficult to tell how you performed. If you haven’t already, sit down and document your digital marketing strategy which should include (at minimum) the following attributes:
- Marketing Objectives and Goals
- Marketing Tactics
- How You’ll Measure Success
- Checkpoints Along the Way
#2 – Prioritize What You Want to Accomplish
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “your eyes are bigger than your stomach”. The same applies to looking at all of the delicious marketing morsels that you want to accomplish for the year. If you try to tackle all of them at once, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed.
Instead, prioritize your most impactful marketing tasks first. If you aren’t sure what those are, reference your plan.
#3 – Tackle Your Big Rocks Early in the Day
A looming deadline or project will make even the most sophisticated marketer worry. Don’t let elephant tasks consume you all day. Instead, tackle your big tasks early in the day so they don’t loom over your head. By getting these out of the way quickly, you’ll feel more relaxed the rest of the day.
#4 – Learn to Say No
Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person. Sometimes it’s necessary for you to accomplish everything that you have planned. When you receive a request, put it through the following filter:
- Does this task fit within my plan?
- Will it help me increase the impact of my work?
- What else would need to move out in order to accommodate this request?
Having a documented marketing plan will make it much easier to make decisions about whether or not a request should be completed.
#5 – Focus on one Task at a Time
We all multi-task. Some of us even brag about how good at it we are. But the truth is, multi-tasking is not a healthy and effective way to approach your marketing responsibilities. Instead, when you’re outlining what you have to accomplish for the day, focus on one item at a time and don’t move on to the next until you’ve completed that task.
#6 – Remove Outside Distractions
I sometimes think that I am my own biggest distraction. My mind starts to wander, I start looking at something on my phone or chatting with another teammate and then I realize 20 minutes of time have passed. Help eliminate distractions for yourself by:
- Disconnect: Turn off your email and put away your electronics so you can focus on the task at hand.
- Physically Move: If you find that you can’t quite focus where you are sitting, try a different spot or a quiet room for awhile.
#7 – Make Meetings Count
One of the qualities that I have always enjoyed about the way we run meetings at TopRank Marketing is our focus on outcomes. To ensure that a meeting is productive, make sure that you start each meeting with a defined agenda and objective, then conclude the meeting with detailed action items for each person that attended.
#8 – Find Your Time of Day Groove
The most productive part of the day will vary depending on the individual. Personally, I like to get into work early and knock out my large tasks before anyone else is in the office. If your job is flexible, feel free to test some different work hours to see which suits you best.
#9 – Create Efficiencies with Technology
There is literally a tool for everything today. You might find that you’re wasting time on tasks that could be shortened, or even eliminated with the right technology.
#10 – Make Time for Education
Because our industry evolves so quickly, it’s essential that all of us make the time to continue our education. Fortunately for you, there are a lot of options available today that make it easy to learn, even on-the-go. Try listening to podcasts on your way to and from work, or setting aside time in your day to research different trends and topics that you can apply to your own work and share with the rest of your team.
#11 – Love Your Workspace
We spend most of our waking hours at our desks. If you invest a little time and money into making your workspace something that delights you, you’ll find that it has a much more calming effect than you may realize.
#12 – Block off Time on Your Calendar
If you have large projects or just need some uninterrupted time, block off parts of your calendar so that other team members know not to schedule meetings or distract you during those hours. Fewer interruptions will lead to more effective and focused work time.
#13 – Create Short Sprint Goals for Maximum Impact
Sometimes you’ll be working on campaigns or projects that span multiple months. Seeing the fruits of your labor can take a while and it’s important to show marketing impact frequently. To achieve that, try setting some short-term goals and develop a plan for gaining some incremental wins along the way to delight your customers or leadership team.
#14 – Know Your Strengths & Ask for Help
The sign of a mature marketer is that they understand both their strengths and weaknesses. While we should play to our strengths and strive to improve our weaknesses, it’s also important to be on the lookout for other team members that possess skills that you don’t. When it makes sense, ask for their help or even job shadow them to pick up replicable tips for improving.
#15 – Make Time for Projects That Spark Your Creativity
Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a marketing rut, which is why it’s essential to MAKE time for creativity and testing. By allowing for some “slush” time that you dedicate to trying new things, it’ll keep you engaged in your work and possibly lead to some great new ideas.
#16 – Let the Data Be Your Guide
Often times when marketers “go with their gut” it is based on years of experience. However, as much as we’d all like to think we have it figured out, it’s important to let the data lead our decisions. If you “feel” really great about a program but it’s not performing, take some time to dig into the data and find out why. That way you will have enough forewarning to adapt your strategy and get your program back on the right track.
#17 – Be Realistic
There are only so many hours in a day and only so much impact one marketer can make. I’m an idealist, I’d like to think that I can accomplish all 15 things on my list for the day, but I quickly find that things start to roll over and that leaves me with a feeling of failure. Instead, take a long hard look at what you want to accomplish and what it will take to get that done.
#18 – Find Ways to Collaborate
There is the old expression “if you’re not growing you’re dying” which is especially true in an industry like marketing. In addition to educating yourself on a regular basis, it’s essential to tap into the smarts and expertise of the people around you. Everyone brings something different to the table and you’d might be surprised at what you can learn.
#19 – Create a Central Location to Store Ideas
If you don’t document inspiration right when you find it, chances are that it will quickly become lost. Find a central place like notes or Evernote to store different ideas for marketing campaigns, tactics and more that you can add to and reference quickly.
#20 – Take Care of Yourself: Sleep, Exercise, Nutrition
Your general health and wellbeing can significantly impact your work. So, make sure that you get the proper amount of sleep, exercise and healthy foods to keep you energized and focused to accomplish everything that is before you in 2017!
Three Cheers for a More Effective & Focused 2017!
Competition for consumers will only increase in the coming year and in order to level up your marketing, it’s important that you focus on marketing impact for the coming year.
What focus methods have you found work best for you as a marketer?