Have you ever wrung a sponge dry? Squeezed it until you’ve extracted every last drop?
That’s what an overwhelmed marketing team feels like. Requests come in left and right from every corner of the company, all of them marked “urgent” and each with their own special requirements. This constant pressure isn’t good for the team’s efficiency—nor is it good for their morale. Run like this for too long and something’s going to give.
So what’s a marketing manager to do?
Well, you can’t afford to hire someone. And you can’t decline projects. So the most realistic (and best long-term) alternative is to improve the way your team works.
Try to do too many things at once, and your team will experience project overflow. They’ll be split amongst so many tasks that you’ll either get substandard results or nothing at all. Ideally, there has to be a traffic manager—a person or process that schedules and prioritizes jobs to keep things moving along at a brisk pace. This person triages and communicates those priorities. You don’t have to hire anyone, but someone has to be making those decisions. Without them, projects are going to spill over and make an unholy mess of things.
Create an Intake Process and Enforce It (Ruthlessly)
Do people request projects by stopping you in the hall as you walk? Are your project briefs two-sentence emails? These off-the-cuff briefs are often incomplete, wasting your team’s time as they chase down requirements that should’ve been given the moment the request was made.
Set up a process to formalize and stem the flow of project requests. Even a one-page form will do, as long as it captures all the information your team needs. Or better yet, use a project management tool to keep track of every step of the process—including setting up an intake form that you can point people to and avoid those hallway requests. Beware, though: some people will try to bull their way through the process to “expedite” certain “rush” projects. Don’t do it! It’ll ruin your traffic manager’s tightly coordinated schedule. Stick to your guns and enforce the process.
Question: if you’ve been asked to produce ten brochures for ten different events, how many designs do you need to create?
Your team doesn’t have time to create ten different brochure designs. Instead, create one or two standard brochure templates and just plug in the new content as documents are requested. There are several advantages to this approach:
Once you’ve created standard templates for projects, your team can focus their creative energies on more valuable tasks. More importantly, it sets your workflow up for the next step:
Some marketing requests are so simple that anyone could do them; switching copy, changing a partner name, swapping out an image, and so on. It’s just that most employees don’t have access to the expensive software that creatives use, and so by default marketing has to field those simple one-off tasks.
Fortunately, there are now tools that make it possible for non-marketing people to make those changes themselves: content management software for websites, and marketing asset management software for everything else. By using editable document templates, sales can personalize a standard brochure for whichever lead they’re working with. Marketing doesn’t have to lift a finger.
It’s very much possible to ease up pressure on a marketing department without turning away work. You just have to implement the right workflow and process changes. Spillover is reduced and timelines are no longer a jumbled mess. Projects flow more easily and result in higher quality and higher value work. Most importantly, marketing can function properly without ever feeling the pinch.