This crisis has created a need to do a lot more with less resources.
Marketers, in particular, are under a lot of pressure to pivot their strategy and ensure their brand stays relevant during difficult times.
But, although quality does make a difference, marketing right now is a game of strategy and scale. At the end of the day, only a small fraction of the people reached by a brand will actually convert.
Which means the more people marketers reach — and the more touchpoints involved — the better. If you're already feeling stretched thin, don't worry. Reaching more people doesn't necessarily mean doing more. In fact, there are a few circumstances where it's actually better to do less.
Here, let's dive into five areas of marketing you can practice the "less is more" approach to ensure higher efficiency, and less time wasted.
Less Stress, More Productivity
When you take a hard look at marketing tactics, you'll see there are actually a lot of opportunities to generate and convert more leads with less work. Let's dive into five areas of marketing where you might be wasting your time — and how to create more efficient processes instead.
Management has two meanings in marketing: the management of employees, and the management of campaigns. Both contain plenty of chances to do more with less work.
Every tool in your marketing stack claims to make your life easier. In most cases, though, they're just one more window or tool to keep tabs on. Despite the fact that the typical martech stack contains dozens of tools, Gartner research suggests marketers use barely half of them to their fullest potential. That's the thinking behind HubSpot's "hub" approach: All-in-one tools are a better investment because they're more efficient. Not only do employees actually use them, but they spend a lot less time doing things like switching windows and exporting data.
If I've learned anything about management, it's that trust and autonomy are key. Nothing creates disengagement quite like micromanagement.
Micromanagement is a double-whammy to productivity because it takes more of managers' time while reducing employees' performance. And as someone who co-founded a content marketing company, trust me when I say micromanagement also cuts into content quality.
The best managers aren't hands-off, but they're far from hands-on. Instead of worrying about nitty-gritty details, good managers focus on creating the right work environment. Your direct reports should feel safe making their own decisions, but also comfortable coming to you with questions.
2. Scheduling Your Calendar
A "less is more" mentality works both with how you schedule your time, and how other people schedule meetings with you. At a past company, we used what I call the "big rocks" system. Each morning, members of the team would share the top three or four things they expected to accomplish that day.
Although they did all sorts of smaller tasks in between, nobody ever listed "answering emails" or "creating Facebook posts."
Why not? Because trying to schedule every single chore every day is a waste of time. Appointments fall through. Things come up. Being flexible and squeezing in extra work whenever it makes sense is more efficient than having to rearrange your calendar every hour.
Think, too, about how you schedule things. I spend a lot of my days in meetings, so I could easily spend hours going back and forth in email to set them all up. Instead, I use workflow automation to let people pick a time that works for both of us.
3. Content Creation
I may not be a professional novelist, but one thing I do know is short, snappy writing tends to perform better than long, complex copy.Search engines favor shorter sentences and paragraphs. And more anecdotally, Stephen King, one of my favorite authors, warns writers against overusing adjectives and adverbs.
The point is this: Concise writing tends to be strong writing. Rather than trying to sound like the next Shakespeare in your blog content, be natural. A down-to-earth style is both easier on you and easier on your reader.
4. Conducting Meetings
There are only a few select situations where I would ever hold a hour-long meeting. Not only are they expensive — a hour-long meeting with a dozen employees costs 12 hours of company time — but they simply don't make sense from a productivity standpoint.
Don't get me wrong: Meetings can be valuable opportunities to get on the same page. But they can also be enormous time-sucks. In fact, Research published in Harvard Business Review found 71% of executives think meetings tend to be unproductive and inefficient; and 65% of those surveyed said meetings keep them from completing their own work.
Take an "only when necessary and only as long as necessary" approach to meetings. If a message can be conveyed just as well in an email, don't drag people away from their desks for it. If a meeting is required, send out the agenda beforehand, and explain how long you expect it to take. If it's done after five minutes, great — let people get back to work.
5. Team Brainstorming Sessions
Marketing is an industry of ideas. Every strategy, campaign, and piece of content begins with ideation. Although I like the cerebral side of marketing, I can't get on board with how many teams brainstorm.
Nearly 60 years ago, a Yale study showed individuals come up with twice as many solutions to creative puzzles as those working in groups. Yet the team brainstorm remains a staple at most agencies I know.
Just as much time is wasted in post-brainstorm winnowing. Marketing runs on experimentation. The only way to truly tell how a campaign, title, or image will perform is to test it. In the time some teams spend debating different ideas, they could've collected real-world data and pivoted if the initial idea didn't work.
Practice Pulling Back
Doing less might not sound like something that takes practice to get right. But I've found marketing is full of Type A personalities: People who hold themselves to high standards, and as a result, tend to give their all to every task they tackle.
When I see members of my team overdoing it, I tell them this: Perfection does not equal performance. I understand the urge to get it right, but remember, marketing is a matter of scale. Doing less is the smartest way to squeeze more in.
Originally published Jun 8, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated June 10 2021