“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” ~Peter Drucker
This is article #1 in a 4-part series. Click here to read #2 How to Construct a Big Picture Annual and Editorial Calendar for Your School Marketing.
One of the most difficult parts of being a school marketer is staying on top of all of the expectations placed on the marketing department.
It’s difficult to build momentum when you feel like you’re being pulled in many directions. As a school marketer, you’re often expected to summon your creativity and deliver something awesome while juggling 3 million (OK it seems like 3 million) deadlines and keeping your team on task at any given point in time.
And, when you keep repeating this seemingly never-ending cycle over, and over…well…you have a tendency to get burned out. It just isn’t sustainable.
The key to managing a heavy workload is streamlining by using organizational tools. There are four stages a marketing manager should take to systemize their process and make marketing more manageable for everyone.
In this 4-part series on organizing school marketing projects for efficiency and effectiveness, I will be covering four stages of organizing your marketing for efficiency and effectiveness. The four stages are: prioritization, planning and scheduling, automating and creating a repeatable process through checklists and reminders.
Today’s post will focus on the first stage – prioritization.
There are only so many hours in the workweek.
Focusing too much time on tasks that may only slightly have a positive impact on the school is prohibitive. Determining which tasks are going to make the most impact comes down to a prioritization process.
An effective prioritization process that I’ve used is a project backlog. A project backlog is a tool that comes out of professional project management. It is generally a repository of works waiting to be done. It is also a great tool for objectively determining how to prioritize your projects and activities within each project.
Here are five steps to take to effectively prioritize your marketing labors.
Step 1. Brainstorming
Ideally, you will have a “parking lot” of marketing ideas that you’ve been keeping. This will give you a good starting point.
If you feel like you need more marketing project ideas, it’s time to hold a brainstorming meeting with your team. A good question to ask is “What should marketing look like for our school?”
Step 2. Identify projects that are repeatable and measurable
Once you have your list of marketing projects that sound like good ideas, apply the litmus test of whether each project is repeatable and measurable. This is important because you want to provide the most value to the highest number of target audience individuals as possible. If a project is not repeatable or measurable, you should question if it really is essential and, if not, mark it off your list.
Step 3. Identify mission-critical tasks
When it comes to marketing for your school, some projects are critical to success, while others are “nice” but not critical.
Identify which projects are critical, such as projects that are seasonal, deadline-driven, special event-focused or will generate inquiries.
Step 4. Create a Marketing Project Backlog
A tool that can be used to help you determine the highest priorities for your marketing department is called a Marketing Project Backlog. A project backlog is a list of projects that are scheduled to be done but have not been completed.
How successful a marketing team is managing their backlog often determines the success of the marketing department. A Marketing Project Backlog is a project manager’s tool for planning, scheduling and decision making.
A simple Marketing Project Backlog can be created in a spreadsheet format (i.e., Google Sheets). A spreadsheet page is set up for each project.
Marketing Project Backlog Spreadsheet Criteria
Suggested criteria headings (across top of page)
- Activity Type (What type of marketing activity is being considered for this project?)
- Description (What will we do?)
- Repeatable (Is this project repeatable?)
- Measurable (Is this project measurable?)
- Effective (How effective will this project be? How close does it target our goals and objectives?)
- Effort (How much time will this project take? Will it require outside help?)
- Repurpose (Will this project repurpose content we already have?)
- Long-term Benefit (Can we complete this project and reap long-term benefits with little or no ongoing effort?)
- Credibility/Reputation (Will this project establish our school as an authority?)
- Audience (Does this project target the right audience? How large do we expect the audience to be?)
- Cost (How much will this project cost? Is this a one-time expense or will there be ongoing costs?)
- Partnership Opportunities (Will this project help us establish or maintain partners?)
- Expectation (Does our audience expect this type of activity from us?)
Examples of Activity Types
Examples of activity types (down first left-hand column)
- Lead Magnet
- Subscriber email automation
- Blog post
- Landing page
- Video series
- Social media status updates
- Twitter party and giveaway
- Instagram Contest
- Facebook ad
- Google Adwords
- Direct mail postcard
- Local media announcement
- Radio ad
- Open house
- School event
Once you have set up your spreadsheet, enter in your project and rate each of the above criteria on a scale. I use a 1-5 scale, but you can set it up however it makes sense to you. By rating each activity type, you will generate scores for each activity and for each project. This will help you determine the top marketing priorities for your school.
Step 5. Engage Your Team
Meet with your team, present your ideas and ask for their input. Sometimes they will come up with ideas you never thought of. Giving people the chance to share their ideas and be a part of setting priorities will help them get excited about the work ahead.
As a general rule, most departments try to hold a marketing prioritization meeting at least once a quarter.
It’s easy to get into a “there’s never enough time” mindset, but if you want to be successful and have peace of mind, it’s important to become solution-oriented. Taking the time to set your priorities means you will receive the biggest bang for your time and investment.
What system do you use to set priorities? What has worked best for you and your team? Please comment below and share with the rest of the school marketing community.