Quality versus Quantity: Know Your Limits

It’s not that marketers enjoy self-sabotage, but I understand it can look that way. Never ones to shy away from a sales crisis or marketing challenge, we’ll accept a drop-in assignment out of sheer love of the game.

It isn’t until 2:30 a.m. of the day the project is due, when we’re strung out on caffeine and pop-tarts, that we realize something’s gotta give. Therein lies the self-sabotage. When there’s more work than time, you need to pull up and manage expectations before you’ve overcommitted yourself or your team to another drop-in project.

When my boss says ‘give me more’ what kind of fool is going to tell her she’s off her rocker?”

First of all, I’ve been that boss, and I already know I’m off my rocker. So, sticks and stones… you’re singing to the choir, etc etc… but there’s work to be done. The more outrageous my requests, the more I rely on you to keep me grounded.  

Even if you’re stuck with people who could care less about what it takes to produce quality work, guard your process and your time with these four disciplines.

  1. Quantify your time for each step of the process — then TRIPLE it.
  2. Define your team’s development and delivery process.
  3. Communicate your operational process — ad nauseam.
  4. Hold colleagues responsible for their deliverables.

Quantify your time for each step of the process — then TRIPLE it.  Clear your desk and your mind when you do this exercise. Get specific about what it takes to deliver your best level of work.  You should be able to quote your standard turnaround time at the drop of a hat.  Guard this fiercely, then prepare to triple it when someone asks you the dreaded “how soon can you get this to me.”  

For years, I held onto the fantasy that a press release should be written in three hours. Maybe that’s possible when someone delivers you a magic folder with all of the background info, facts, quotes and names of journalists who even care, but to this day, I haven’t gotten ones of those magic folders from the colleague who shouts out, “Hey, let’s put out a press release…”   

Define your team’s development and delivery process. This is the underpinning of your excellence, and it gives you the objectivity you need in the wake of well-intentioned suggestions. Small companies that have flourished on the do what it takes and all hands on deck spirit need structure to scale.  None-the-less, this operational discipline is excruciating for some people.   

Expect resistance as you formalize your MarCom process because you are redistributing the responsibility for making thoughtful decisions.   Some people call this stupid bureaucracy, others will be convinced it’s micro-management, and I’ve seen people perceive this as a conspiracy theory to see how many smoke breaks they take.

This marketing discipline is so obvious, yet far too many of us have treated it like an “ideal” that’s best suited when there aren’t a million fires burning us alive.  

Communicate your process — ad nauseam. The best time to start managing expectations is before someone is freaking because he needs an email blitz or direct mail campaign.  Along with your timelines and process, identify the information that Marketing needs to begin and complete a project.

Meet regularly with teams, and individuals, so that they understand your process, turnaround time, and their personal deliverables.   One-off requests will cripple you, so meet with teams at least once a month to identify shared needs.   

Hold colleagues responsible for their deliverables. Rarely does a VP of Sales know what’s involved in executing a direct mail campaign to a “hot new prospect list” someone pulled from Jigsaw. All he knows is that his sales team is despondent because they have no fresh leads.  Even a seemingly benign request such as an email campaign can be a thorny mess. Before you commit to a delivery date, make sure there is an owner for everything you will need.  

Process and order are very seductive, yet elusive, to some of us. Our left brain is all about it, but our right brain is like the kid who comes along and messes up your Etch-a-sketch masterpiece.  It’s a love-hate relationship, but it is a survival skill that will preserve the integrity of your work.

3 thoughts on “Quality versus Quantity: Know Your Limits

  1. Pingback: Blogging Workload: a Poll « Dig Deep Thinker

  2. Discipline in marketing is critical, especially when dealing with content driven media like the web. If you are in marketing, you must hit deadlines or you will fail, period. Great article!

  3. Great advice. As one of those demanding VP’s from the sales side, if I am part of a visible planning process like the one recommended I can be a better partner.

    Your advice on constant communication is very much on target. If I know what I’m getting and when, it makes it much easier to keep my sales team informed and excited about marketing’s efforts. If there is an owner for everything, I know when my own team might actually be the limiting factor, before I jump down the wrong throat.

    Those that fail tot plan think it reduces flexibility. Those that use a process know that it can actually increase flexibility because resources are used efficiently

    Thanks for the strategy.

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