Clients don't really want us to produce more; they want us to achieve more. They want us to develop and execute on ideas that make things happen for their business and move brand perception forward.
Instead of looking for productivity tips (of which there are aplenty, mostly focused on how to master the art of the well-crafted to-do list), our focus as marketers should be on seeking useful advice and tools that help us achieve meaningful goals.
The good news is that our ever-maturing digital environment gives us more tools for this purpose than ever. But even before you get to the tools, think about the advice shared in this post on the habits of highly success PR pros. In this piece, author and PR executive Amanda Miller Littlejohn hits on what I consider to be the single most useful productivity tip there is: Begin with the end in mind. In other words, begin by thinking: “what am I trying to achieve; what is my end goal and how will I get there.” This will force you to prioritize your steps. While Littlejohn talks about this strategy in the context of an entire campaign, I'd argue it can and should be applied to each discrete step throughout the campaign. In fact, it's how we need to start every day.
From that goal-centered starting point, our uber-efficient digital resources can assume true purpose, helping us sift through the clutter and discard the things that don't matter to our cause. Think of yourself as a heat-seeking missile set on a target goal, with a few useful tools like the following to help keep you on course:
Tools that help us listen for the right opportunities.
No matter what we're trying to achieve for our clients, we can't do it successfully in a vacuum. The conversations and ideas being shared around us impact our efforts, so we have to keep a constant ear to the ground. We need to understand the nuances of market trends and the opportunities they present to move us closer to our goal.
Creating custom listening streams with tools such as HootSuite, and HootSuite's UberVu keep us current and enable us to be more opportunistic. It also help us cull through the vast amounts of information that no human can possibly process on his or her own.
Tools that help you collaborate, iterate and test quickly.
If your teams aren't already using Google Drive, Zoho Docs, Basecamp or Evernote, pick one and get started. These document sharing and collaborative tools help us share ideas, improve on them and get them off the page quickly. As a result, we can try lots of things and learn what's working to get us to our goal faster.
Tools that help you measure for intelligence.
We can't know if we are getting any closer to our goal without measurement. Breaking down the goal into discrete metrics that are a priority for our client, such as growing share of voice, improving brand favorability and increasing channel engagement, will give you data points to inform your programs. Your listening tools can often help you with this (nothing makes us happier than a tool that can do double duty, right?), as well as other measurement centric tools such as Google Analytics, Radian6 from ExactTarget, Sprout Social or a new one we've been assessing at Tier One called IQMedia.
The only kind of productivity that really matters in our business is the production of results. So try this: tack your mission to the wall above your workspace and look at it every day. Then ask yourself daily/weekly if you've gotten any closer to your end goal. If not, figure out what you can do to fix that and make it #1 on your to-do list!