Marketers have a varied job. For most of us, no single day looks exactly the same. But: marketeers also have a challenging job because they have to keep many different signs straight every day. They work within a marketing schedule that is sometimes stable and rigid, but can just as easily be changed quickly. The result? Marketeers carry out many different types of tasks in function of the implementation of the marketing planning. Does an e-newsletter have to be sent out? Then maybe 2 marketeers are at work, divided into 12 tasks or to do’s. Is there an event on the doorstep? Then an entire marketing team is almost involved through dozens of tasks, spread over several months.
You read it: good task management or task management is essential to ensure that a marketing team runs smoothly. In my years of collaboration with various marketing teams within very diverse sectors, I have always noticed how different marketers within a team view task management. Usually there is consensus on how marketing planning should be handled. However, opinions on how marketers manage their tasks are quite different. It's high time to zoom in on what marketing tasks all exist and how we best deal with those different tasks. I'll also show you how we in our marketing team deal with task management.
Many tasks within a marketing team are recurring. Does a blog post need to be written on a weekly basis? This means, for example, 5 tasks for 2 different marketers, where the timing of the tasks is determined in advance. The same with setting up a webinar, sending out an e-newsletter, publishing a magazine, organizing an event or participating in a trade fair. The team always has to deal with the same task list, which has to be completed in a similar sequence and by the same people.
Template tasks often cause pressure in a marketing team because marketers are dependent on each other. For example, a webmaster cannot post the blog post online if the final editing has not taken place or if the content marketer has not yet chosen the corresponding images. Efficient management of template tasks therefore requires an uniform vision and approach within the marketing team. Below I show how we handle template tasks within our team.
"Could you give me an overview of ... by Friday?" Every marketer regularly receives this type of task on the board. With this type of task, you have 2 choices: either you do it immediately so that the task does not have to be scheduled, or you put the task in the task scheduling on the deadline. The first choice is not recommended because it upsets your daily schedule. It is best to schedule the task immediately.
Let us continue working on the above example, where a colleague asks me to provide an overview of all past webinars by Friday (the deadline) at the latest. Because the task is too extensive to be carried out immediately, I have scheduled them with a deadline of Friday 3 September. However, this does not mean that I necessarily have to perform this task on Friday (the day of the deadline). This does not mean, however, that I have to perform this task on Friday (the day of the deadline). This way, I can decide to perform this task on Wednesday, 2 days before the deadline. A task can therefore be twofold: it has a deadline and an execution date. It is important within efficient task management that you can easily manage these 2 task functions.
Marketing tasks are often linked to marketing, communication or campaign planning. You may want to add a certain check or check as a task to attaching poster material to a point of sale (a moment in the campaign planning). Or the start of a certain campaign will lead to an inspiration for a task that you should not forget. In that case it is best to keep this task as close as possible to the marketing, communication or campaign planning.
In practice, I see that the above example is often added as 'subtasks' within a general task planning. After all, most project management systems have no distinction between a timeline planning for communication and the task planning. Everything is then entered as a task in the planning. For example, Trello works with signs, where a sign can represent both a task and a communication moment. Popular task planners like Asana also have the same philosophy. However, we find this awkward and inefficient. A timeline with communication actions should only show communication moments, not tasks. And a task plan contains tasks, not moments of communication. You lose overview and insight when you use both schedules together, our experience teaches us. Marketing schedules in Excel are a good example of this.Because marketing moments (e.g. blog post online on 6 September) and marketing tasks (e.g. writing a blog post on 4 September) are in the same planning, you get an overload of information, resulting in a lack of overview.
Previously in this article I gave the example of template tasks. A lot of tasks in a template are attached to each other or need to be done in cascade (in a smooth sequence). For example, a printer cannot start if the print-ready PDF has not been delivered. Or an advertising marketer will not be able to launch the advertisement for a webinar if the webinar is not on the website. Clients (marketing teams) often confront us with the explicit request to be able to click tasks together. If the previous task is moved forward by 2 days, all subsequent tasks will also be moved forward. In the image below you see the example of a task planning in an in-house graphic studio of a marketing team in the retail sector.
In this type of task management I have an important observation to make. Although it is often asked within marketing teams, I do not know of any practical situation where it is successfully used for efficient task management within the marketing team. Website developers, product managers, graphic studios or advertising agencies often use it in their planning systems. Marketing teams from our experience who used it have all stopped using it. Reason: the 'automatic' shifting of tasks among colleagues because one marketer will deliver one day later is not always a good idea. For example, a content marketer doesn't like his or her planning to move based on the task planning of colleagues. They prefer to leave the deadline of the task behind and knock on the door of the colleague when information, documentation or action is missing.
Every marketer recognizes it: every now and then you get a raid for a task. That does not necessarily have to be during the working day. It can happen while shopping, in the car or in the dentist's waiting room. Then it is important to schedule this task as soon as possible so that it doesn't remain a ghost in your head. The best solution is to add them to your to-do list and add a deadline.
Well organized marketing teams hold regular and consistent marketing meetings in which they discuss the progress of the planning with each other. A frequently asked question is "What do we use as a guideline for the marketing meeting?": a task list, the communication planning or a separate meeting agenda? I admit: we ourselves have struggled for a long time with organizing efficient marketing meetings. I recently wrote this article about it. Now we have the solution. On the screen is the marketing planning, which we run from top to bottom. In addition, we have a selection from the task list at hand, in which agenda items to be discussed are marked with the status MEETING. This system works fine. Each marketer fills in his/her to-do list with the items or tasks to be discussed for the marketing meeting, so that we always have an up-to-date meeting agenda on Monday afternoon.
Finally, there are those tasks that will one day have to be carried out, when the time is right or when we are given the time. It is advisable to add these tasks to your list of tasks as well, but without a deadline. They will then appear at the very bottom of the to-do list so that they do not get in the way of tasks with deadlines. Are you out of your planned tasks at any given time? Are you planning to tackle or schedule tasks without deadlines? Then go back to this part of the to-do list.