I have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of marketers of different styles, environments, and outcomes on both the client and agency side over my 13-plus years as a marketer. It is part of the fun of agency life that I can then compare and contrast the results. From that experience, I have found that some marketers get more done than others and again many have more obstacles to productivity than others. Here are some qualities that I have observed that may help you get the most out of your tenure in any form of organization.
The marketers who are most productive often get enough information to move the ball forward and keep an eye on the riskiest aspects along the way. Further, the most productive marketers fix problems as they go along rather than try to avoid them altogether.
The ability to simplify
The most productive marketers keep it simple. They know how to say “no” and empower others to say “no” as well. They choose prioritized few important things that they want to get them done. Then they knock them out and move on to the next set.
Every experience as a marketer may not always come from marketing, but rather through years of getting things done or else through learning. Experience can help smooth the bumps of nearly any undertaking.
Complex jobs require help. No one can accomplish big things or many things alone. However, to do that, you must trust others around you to pick up part of the work. Too often, a lack of trust takes the wind out of any sails that may move the business forward.
In order to trust, the most productive marketers hire the best talent they can find, inside or outside the firm, to support their efforts. Good people get a lot done well. When we’ve worked with productive marketers in the past, it is only as a result of a really strong and capable team around them.
Great managers, in any department or function, help the business scale. Too many top- and mid-level marketers overlook the development of this capability and spend time developing their strategic thinking and creativity rather than the blocking and tackling of people management. By developing their people, the marketing function can execute on great strategic plans and creativity, rather than just aspire to it.
Communication is a subset of management and leadership, but it needs to be called out. In any case where we’ve been the most successful in developing sustained campaigns or shifted a client’s business in improved directions, it came along with strong communication in all directions and forms, as well as in groups so that complex organizational structures are all on the same page.
Watching the customer and creating a buyer’s personas
The best marketers take time to observe their customers. Hearing directly from or observing customers informs critical details that often head big future problems off at the pass. These are future fires that could break out and distract from long-term momentum and creates successful communication.
Taking time for inspiration
It might not always seem like real work or even appear to be a distraction, but it is important to get out in the wild with your team every once in a while with greater inspiration and motivation. Sometimes this directs toward a strategic objective or insight, because most of the time, the best inspired new ideas reside outside of your organization, not within it.
Not spending all your time in meetings
Everyone has this challenge to overcome. A day is easily filled end-to-end with meetings. However, sometimes you need time to get work done and/or interact ad hoc with those who are trying to support the marketing function within your organization. All too often, marketing leaders are stuck in endless meetings with only text messages as their form of external communication (where largely the only value is to indicate that they are still alive and aware of the mounting messages in their email inbox).
Trying new things running small experiments
The most productive marketers have experimentation embedded in the culture at all ranks, but know where to place their risks. Their people place small risks within a prioritized category with the ante being a hypothesis and any “loss” results in the net positive of shared learning among the team. They make small mistakes and share their learnings prior to playing with bigger risks or making big mistakes.
Maximizing what works
One of the quickest ways I have seen marketers make the biggest impact on their business is to focus on what is already working and make the most of it. Obviously, there can be diminishing returns from continually optimizing something that is nearing “perfection,” but in this rapidly changing world of marketing, it is unimaginable that any particular tactic is nearing that mark. Marketers who make the most out of what they already have get highly efficient wins under their arena.
Finally, while productivity is a goal for every organization, it just means that more is getting done. Most important, productive marketers who are also in alignment with the organization as a whole will get better results from whatever work they do. Operations needs to support the brand promise and the C-suite needs to see value in what marketing can do for the organization. Productivity, in the right situation, will get the best results as a better marketer everyday.
Chandreyi Saha is Founder and CEO at Skyline. She specializes in building engaged online communities and sparking conversations about business-to-business marketing trends, Follow her at Google+ or tweet her at @chandreyisaha.