The never-ending to-do list . . . the constant deadlines . . . the pinging inbox: Welcome to the world of the typical entrepreneur or small business owner.
When you’re one of them, you're constantly deluged with tasks, and prioritizing tasks can be difficult. That's why most business owners wear many hats as they grow their companies, eventually adding marketing tasks to their ever-expanding priority list. So, in that regard, understanding how to prioritize and delegate your marketing tasks can be a huge help.
These five steps will help you do what you need to do: focus on the most important tasks first so that you can leverage them to achieve revenue and growth goals. Perhaps, what's even more important is that by prioritizing your marketing tasks, you’ll feel less stress and more in control of your time. For an entrepreneur, that’s priceless!
Step One: Brainstorm everything at once. A brainstorming session helps clear your mind so that you can focus better on your work. It’s a simple yet highly effective first step in any prioritization project. Simply list every single task waiting for you, no matter how large or small. Don’t worry about ordering the tasks or about deadlines yet; we’ll add those later. Just get everything down on paper without judgment or strain. The goal is to clear your mind of all the lingering tasks so that you can focus on prioritizing the “must do” tasks from marketing ideas you can use later.
Step Two: Identify “mission-critical” marketing tasks. When it comes to marketing tasks for your business, some are critical to success. Others support important tasks, while a third group may be nice to do if you have time but they’re not necessary to complete right away.
In Step Two, you’ll identify critical marketing tasks. These are tasks that are either deadline-driven, such as a deadline for placing an advertisement or for updating a web page for a special event, or tasks that directly support revenue acquisition. Using a highlighter pen if you wrote your list out on paper or a highlighter tool in your word processing program, mark all tasks related to a deadline in one color and those that directly support revenue acquisition in a second color.
Related: The Secret to Prioritizing Your Time
Step Three: Identify tasks that can be delegated. There are probably tasks on your list that you do not necessarily have to complete on your own. Many tasks, such as researching websites for guest blog posts, updating reports and searching for stock photos can be delegated to someone else. Mark these tasks in a third color.
Step Four: Organize and assign deadlines. Now that you have at least three categories of tasks -- deadline driven, revenue-oriented, and to be delegated -- you can can begin to organize and prioritize your marketing tasks. Assign deadlines and prioritize deadline-driven tasks in chronological order, with the ones due soonest at the top of the list.
Step Five: Review your revenue and goal-focused tasks. Your next batch of tasks includes the ones that have a direct effect on revenue and goals. After that, do tasks that can be leveraged for other projects. Some may be dependent on having another task completed first. If one of your marketing tasks is to develop a logo and a tagline, and another task is to write and print brochures to distribute at a conference, you’ll need the logo and tagline first so that they can be placed on the brochures. Both tasks may be on your list of goal-driven tasks, but one, the logo and tagline, has to come first because it will be used on another project.
Working methodically through your list, assign deadlines to your tasks. Give yourself reasonable deadlines. If you know it’s going to take you several days to write the brochure, then give yourself several days. A mistake that many people make is to give themselves too-aggressive deadlines in the hopes that the pressure of a looming deadline will force them to work faster. Such an approach frequently backfires. When deadlines are missed, people grow frustrated. Instead of using deadlines to pressure yourself into working faster, consider delegating or outsourcing more work if necessary to help you achieve your goals.
Step Six: Use project management software to keep track of marketing tasks. Finally, a good way to help you prioritize, track and meet deadlines is to use a project management software program to organize your marketing tasks. Such software can send you reminder emails when a deadline approaches, track past projects and provide a place to house shared documents for your team.
Good project management software options for small businesses include Asana, Trello, and Basecamp. All offer free trials, but Asana and Trello offer free access for businesses with under a certain number of users or for small business and nonprofits.
Keep a running list of ideas.
Finally, to avoid overwhelming yourself, start a file on your computer to store marketing ideas for your business. Instead of adding these ideas as specific marketing tasks, store them in your folder and schedule one hour a week to review the ideas and add the most promising ones to your task list. With this method, you can easily keep track of new ideas and continue to infuse your marketing efforts with new and exciting ways to promote your business.