2nd April 2017
What makes a great marketer? Certainly, the technical marketing skills that we learn and hone throughout our careers are critical. And across our marketing organisations we have a lot of marketing people who have built their careers on being really fantastic project managers. In fact, marketing strategy and plans are worthless without the ability to execute to the highest standards.
But execution on its own is not enough. To paraphrase the great Peter Drucker, it’s not always about doing things right, it’s about doing the right things; in fact, ‘there is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all’.
I worry that too many of us are focusing on the immediate tasks and the ‘busy work’ of marketing.
What’s the first thing you do every morning when you get to work? If you’re like me, you check and respond to your email and voicemail messages. And most likely there are a number of ‘urgent’ requests that require ‘immediate’ attention. We arrive early, have lunch at our desks, and stay late in the office. And we do our best to tick off the items on our To-Do List, most often focusing on the ones that are quickest and easiest. And all of a sudden, it’s the end of the day and we’ve done nothing but put out fires and run to meetings and react, react, react.
Yet how much of what we do during the day perhaps shouldn’t even be done at all? And what if we did something very different?
I first published a version of this post back in 2014. But as our day-to-day working life of B2B marketing continues to become increasingly demanding and hectic, I thought that now would be a good time to remind ourselves of ways we can better prioritise and manage our time, so that we can create the time and space for ourselves that we need without running ourselves ragged.
Stephen Covey’s book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ includes a section on time management. This very simple 2-by-2 matrix has stayed with me years after reading the book. It provides a framework we can use daily for understanding what’s actually urgent – requiring immediate attention – and what’s truly important –requiring ongoing, consistent attention:
I’ve interpreted this matrix specifically for B2B marketers:
This matrix represents the choices we make for utilising our time during any given workday. Let’s look at these Quadrants more closely:
In the ‘7 Habits’ this matrix is presented as a time management tool. But I think it’s much more than that. For me, it’s a way of thinking about what we do as B2B marketers, a mental habit we need to incorporate into our everyday working lives. At bottom, it’s about having clarity on what we are trying to achieve and continually asking ourselves if it’s urgent or important. The rest we simply must let go of, either by handing off to someone else or eliminating entirely. We just might then start to become better marketers.
Heidi Taylor is an award-winning senior marketing strategist with 25 years' experience of helping organisations engage with their customers, creating impact and differentiation. She is a sought-after speaker at marketing conferences in the UK and internationally, and regularly contributes articles to marketing journals in print and online. You can follow her on Twitter @TaylorMadeInKew.