Is your marketing department more of a fast food drive-thru, where you spend most of the time taking orders from the rest of the company, or a 3-star Michelin restaurant, where you focus on crafting creative and memorable campaigns? Be honest.
I thought so.
You, like other marketing managers, have become an order taker. Your activities are controlled by the needs of others. You’ve lost control of your team’s momentum and are resigned to just playing “catch the deadline.”
But you can still transform yourself into the Marketing Authority that you’re supposed to be. Take control of your team’s project sheet and start increasing your value by applying a few simple changes:
Form a Line
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by internal requests if you let people send them every which way: email, paper, and even verbally. It’s like too many people shouting orders in a restaurant. You waste so much energy trying to keep track of them all that you won’t be able to properly assess whether or not these requests are actually necessary and if all the requirements you need are even there.
Instead, restaurants have a greeter that chooses the ideal table for each diner based on current occupancy. You need to do the same thing and establish some control over how requests come in. A project management tool can manage the flow of incoming traffic, and be strict about people using it and providing all the requirements so you can make smart decisions about what you take on and what you don’t.
Leave the Pitcher
Which is more efficient: flagging a waiter every time a diner needs water, or leaving a pitcher and letting them serve themselves?
Your team needs to take the same approach. Don’t waste time assisting in minor, low-value tasks. Make as many tasks self-serve as possible. For example, posting assets in a single accessible location means fewer requests for “the latest version.” Setting up templates and letting users fill in the blanks themselves frees up your design team for bigger projects. The list goes on. Only the bigger and most valuable projects should make it through to the rest of the team.
Treat yourself like a customer
The problem with having a duty to serve others is that you tend to ignore your own needs. To get around this, treat your own projects as if they were requested by someone else. Don’t let them be bumped off by “more urgent” matters, and stick to your established deadlines. If you’ve managed to do the above two steps, then you should have the bandwidth to squeeze those projects in.
Let me just mention that there’s nothing wrong with a department that functions as order-takers—if that’s what the team was built to do. It fulfills a strong tactical purpose, and that’s perfectly fine. On the other hand, if you’d rather have a self-motivated department that creates strategically valuable projects, then you’ll need a completely different approach.