Tips for managing and prioritizing activities

Have you ever asked yourself these types of questions?

  • I only have so many hours in the day. How can I tell what activities are the most valuable for my team?
  • How do I tie our marketing activities to our marketing strategy?

If so, this article was written for you. These are tough questions for any marketer and marketing team. Efficient prioritization takes skill even in streamlined marketing organizations.

Here are four tips to make marketing planning and activity prioritization more efficient, meaningful, and enjoyable:

Goal first

As a great marketer, you must establish a “true north” for your marketing activities based on the best information you have. Reaffirm your strategy and tweak it as necessary, but stay grounded in what you are trying to achieve. This is even more important if your marketing strategy depends on several teams. The marketing team must agree on strategic initiatives first, then align plans and activities against them. The team must also make the necessary trade-offs as a group.

Explain to the company and marketing team where you are headed. Demonstrate the value that new master activities and activities will deliver to customers and the business. If you do, your company and team will follow. If you lose your direction or go back and forth, then complaints will quickly beat you down.

Lead with conviction

In most organizations, competing interests threaten to pull your marketing activities in opposing directions. There is a reason that marketers must be adept at negotiation, diplomacy, and analysis. You must make tough decisions and lead with conviction.

Even on great teams where consensus and trust come easy, someone must make the final call when there are real reasons for disagreement. If you do not resolve these disagreements and try to push indecision to your team (or agree to everything and try to get it all done), your team will either smile and start working on what they think is right or thrash and simply stall out.

Bring everyone into one tool

Marketing activities tend to be highly complex, with a variety of interdependent deliverables, due dates, and responsibilities. Statuses can switch quickly and success metrics can be hard to track.

Before you can manage and prioritize activities as a team, you must have a shared view of the work left to be done. Gather everyone responsible for planning and launching your marketing activities into one tool. Choose a tool that shows you at a glance the status of any activity and how your team is progressing towards its strategic goals.

Rank activities based on business value

If you are taking the first three actions, then this last one is relatively easy. If not, it is nearly impossible to quantify the value of each activity and do a good job of prioritizing next steps.

Let's recap:

  1. You need to know what the goals or key business drivers are for your marketing strategy so you can create a scorecard that includes these key metrics.
  2. If it is not clear who owns prioritization, your scoring will not be trusted. It's essential to know who is in charge.
  3. If the people responsible for your marketing activities cannot see how those activities are progressing towards completion, then strategic consensus will be hard to develop.

If you have these sorted, build your scorecard so you can quantify the value of activities against the metrics that matter to your marketing strategy. Then, rank these activities and their supporting to-dos based on those scores. Use a simple "effort" scale in your scorecard, turn on capacity planning, or consider each activity in terms of anticipated budgetary needs so you know how much each activity will cost in terms of resources. This is not the "official" effort and cost estimate, but it will give you a sense of what it will take for you to consider regarding your strategic planning.

Activities management should be an ongoing process as you continue to implement your marketing strategy. And to-dos should be generated by lots of folks, including support, sales, product, product marketing, management, and — of course — marketing itself. Yet it is your job to set priorities. Then make sure they align with your marketing strategy and are communicated to key stakeholders and teams. If you follow the four recommendations above, you will be well on your way.

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