Marketers are often told they need to get organized by setting goals, documenting their strategy, and proactively planning their campaigns.
While taking these steps seems to make sense, marketers sometimes skip them because they take time away from executing work that can drive results right now. After all, creators want to create, not coordinate their work.
When it comes to content marketing specifically, your team probably has equal parts creators and organizers. While this might seem like the ideal situation for balancing creativity with structure, in reality, the two kinds of marketers butt head a lot and can’t always see where their counterparts are coming from.
So you’re likely dealing with creators who aren’t super gung-ho about your organizing efforts. But what if recent research proved that time spent aligning planning, strategy, and goals is correlated with higher levels of success?
Here’s the data you need to make your case (and how to actually turn chaos into order).
The Value of Getting Organized
This isn’t about following arbitrary best practices for unclear reasons or benefits. Rather, it’s about taking the steps necessary to get the most from your marketing efforts. These five statistics prove this point:
- Top marketers are organized. The most organized marketers are 397% more likely to report success.
- Top marketers set goals. Goal-setting marketers are 376% more likely to report success.
- Top marketers document their strategy. Marketers with a documented strategy are 313% more likely to report success.
- Top marketers proactively plan projects and campaigns. Marketers who proactively plan projects are 356% more likely to report success.
- Top marketers use agile project management processes. Marketers using agile project management were 252% more likely to report success.
3 Ways to Get Organized
Improving your odds of success by 397% is no joke. But how do you even get started? Here are three basic tools and tactics to implement first.
1. Use a marketing calendar.
A well-organized calendar (using either a spreadsheet or an app) gives marketing teams a go-to destination to see what work is coming up, track their deadlines, and stay on the same page.
Removing ambiguity around who is doing what, and when they’re getting it done, eliminates tons of organizational headaches.
2. Keep workflows consistent with checklists.
Checklists may seem like a simple solution for getting organized. They can also be your secret weapon for building productive habits and executing workflows efficiently.
For each type of project that your team executes on a regular basis, do the following:
- List, in order, each step required to complete the project.
- Estimate approximately how much time it takes to complete each step.
- Add an assignee to each task (either a team member or a role, such as a writer, designer, strategist, etc.)
Follow your checklists every time you execute a project, and eventually, you’ll develop productive habits, completing work faster and with fewer mistakes.
3. Measure your output.
How can you know whether using calendars and checklists is actually empowering your content marketing team to get more work done?
Measure your output over time. Then track changes in your analytics over that same period. This will show you two things:
- How much work you’re completing, and whether the number of pieces and projects you’re outputting is increasing
- Whether or not performance is improving accordingly
You can do this in a variety of ways, but the process doesn’t necessarily need to be extremely formal.
Setting Goals That Get Results
Content marketing success should always be measured against a well-defined goal. Remember: Marketers who set goals are 376% more likely to report success.
When establishing goals for your team, follow the SMART goal framework, making each of your goals:
Here’s how to accomplish that in practice.
Document (Enough) Strategy to Reach Your Goals
If you’ve worked in marketing for a while, you’ve heard about the importance of documenting your content strategy.
But considering how fast industries move, sometimes documenting strategy can feel like a waste of time. Why write up a plan you’ll have to abandon tomorrow?
The answer is because it gives your team a path to achieve its goals. Without a documented strategy, you’re trusting that executing disjointed tactics will somehow results in achieving those objectives.
Your strategy should contain:
- A basic customer persona. This is who your work should serve.
- A brand statement. Who are you, and what’s your unique value proposition?
- Your goals. This is what you want to achieve.
- An outline of the tactics you’ll execute. How will you achieve those goals?
- Metrics. What’s the best way to track progress toward goals?
This is the bare minimum of what should be included in your strategy. Keep that document somewhere easily accessible to your team (in cloud storage, a file repository, or another shared resource).
Plan Your Projects and Campaigns in Advance
Execute on your strategy by planning your projects and campaigns ahead of time. In order to keep this simple as well, follow these steps:
- Meet with the team to communicate project or campaign requirements.
- Estimate how long each team member’s contributions will make.
- Map those tasks and deadlines on your calendar.
This will make it easier to balance workloads and ensure there’s enough time to complete the right work on time.
It’s likely you’ve heard about agile marketing.
While it’s beginning to border on buzzword status, there’s a good reason for that. Its principles and methods have been shown to help marketing teams work faster and better.
Implementing agile marketing with a team can take time. But it’s easy to begin with the basics, which can often be enough to make a massive difference. Start with the following steps:
- Meet with your team every morning. Have all team members share what they did yesterday, what they’ll do today, and what’s preventing them from moving forward.
- Manage work with a kanban board (using an app or a physical solution, like note cards on a wall or a whiteboard).
- Plan out large projects and campaigns into sprints. These are two- to four-week chunks of time devoted to completing a phase of a project.
These starting points can make a major difference in how your team works, helping it become organized while gaining speed and efficiency.