Marketers: I Challenge You to Plan Every Working Hour of Next Week Before the Weekend (We Do!)
Establishing Your Marketing Planning and Priorities: An Open Challenge
Over the last couple of weeks, my team and I have spent time with two marketing teams within our portfolio, helping them get laser focused on their major goals, and getting them thinking about the tactical step-by-step actions they need to take to achieve those goals in the next 30, 60, and 90 days. Not only are we breaking it down week by week, we’re doing it hour by hour.
At the expansion stage, marketing teams can get pulled in so many different directions (mostly by sales), and without having a really clear plan in place and a weekly prioritization of time spent, marketing efforts can very easily get derailed.
Setting Goals and Creating a Prioritized Backlog of Actions You Need to Take to Dominate Them
I’d like to describe to you one component of our recent marketing workshops, and I encourage you to do something like this with your marketing team as you head into a new year and new quarter:
- What are the goals of each individual on your team? (the SMARTer the goals are, the better!)
- List off everything that goes into a typical week for each person on your team
- Assign hours to each of those items — how long does each task typically take to complete?
- What do your hours add up to? <40? >40?
- Of the items on your list, what are the vital activities? (i.e. task that must be done to keep things afloat)
- Of the items on your list, what are the needle-movers? (i.e. .major projects that will help you achieve your lead generation/conversion goals)
- Of all of the weekly tasks listed, what are the priorities? Rank the list.
Being Critical of Hours and Priorities Can Be Challenging But Necessary
It is very likely you and the individuals on your team will be surprised by your list. Some team members may look at how the hours add up and say, “Wait, that’s way too low — I work way more hours than that!” Truth be told, if your person is juggling a lot of tasks each week (most marketers at the expansion stage are), he/she is probably losing up to 5-10 hours shifting gears. We talked about this exact topic at a webinar we hosted a few months back.
Some team members may have a week that adds up to 50, 60, 70 hours, and you as the manager may know that your team member is really overestimating OR perhaps they are spending far too much time on tasks that aren’t aligned with the major goals. This is an exercise that may be uncomfortable at first, but you need to challenge the number of hours that are being spent on certain tasks that aren’t highest priority, and seem to be getting far too much attention. Any task planned that will take longer than 5 hours (other than an event) should probably be broken down more.
“Why are 15 hours each week being spent on social media promotion, John? What goes into those 15 hours of work? What are your smart goals? Given that that is not your highest priority goal, how can we shrink 15 hours to 7 hours?”
How We Plan and Prioritize Our Weeks
Each Friday, my team and I plan our following week — hour by hour. Sounds crazy, right? It’s not. It keeps us laser focused on what we need to achieve next week. I know that each of my team members has about 35 hours worth of capacity each week to do actual work (I take out 5-10 hours for lunch, breaks, daily scrum meetings, etc.). Of course, some stories come up that are “unplanned,” but we try to keep that to a minimum. And if I have another team or one of our companies asking me for something off the cuff, I will challenged the person making the request — is this a priority? Can this be put on my backlog of tasks for the following week?
Going into each week, we know what our goals are for the quarter, and keep our eye on the prize — what are we going to do next week to work toward achieving our goals? I make sure that we have a healthy balance of vitals (for us activities like blogging, standing meetings, etc.) and also needle-movers (portfolio projects, major pieces of content, etc).
If I see that one of my team members has 40+ hours plans, I know this is just too much. He/she is going to get burned out and will end up not completing the week having achieved his/her goals. So we discuss the priorities as a team. Have the tasks been accurately sized? Can they be completed a in less time with more focus or by leveraging other resources? What can we cut from the week/redistribute to someone else internally next week so that we can complete other, higher priority tasks that align with our goals?
These types of practices are not easy to get used to. Particularly for marketers who can be very right-brained. But practice makes perfect, and I promise you, if you adopt this approach you will leave walk out of the office at the end of the day Friday feeling a LOT more accomplished as you enter your weekend. Most importantly, you will truly start moving the needle for your business in shorter timeframes.