Is saving time important for a B2B marketer?
Your answer is likely an unequivocal yes. But saving time by upping efficiency isn’t just a one-and-done step. It should be an ongoing, living and breathing process that changes and improves over your marketing career. And that means you should be taking time to review and audit your processes to uncover opportunities for improvement.
In my 35-plus years working in online communications, I’ve come to learn several efficiency-boosting methods. So, here are five of my personal time-saving tips to overclock, fine-tune, and crank up your B2B marketing efficiency.
Saving a few minutes here and there throughout the day may not seem all that important — or worth devoting much effort to achieve. But keep in mind that saving two minutes each day equates to eight and a half hours over a standard business year. That’s valuable time that can be used for countless other activities.
The passage of time delineates our work and our lives. And as Tolstoy wrote, both time and patience hold immense power, which is especially true in today’s marketing battlefield.
In addition, what we do with our time in marketing and beyond allows us to have an impact on the world and on the lives of all those we interact with. And by saving time we can create space for new marketing opportunities, or — as novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote:
For marketers, boosting efficiency isn’t just time saved. It’s additional time that can be used for many things such as experimenting with new technologies, taking on additional projects, or optimizing existing campaigns.
Here are five tips to help get you started on your own personal efficiency journey.
When you find yourself in an especially productive period, take advantage of it and ride the productivity wave to get as much done as possible while the creative B2B marketing iron is hot.
Unfortunately, we can’t control when we’ll be at our peak combined levels of energy, productivity, and efficiency. By quickly recognizing when such a period hits us, however, we can get in as much work as possible before the big wave eventually peters out.
How can you take advantage of these times? Here are three strategies:
How productive are you? Have you re-assessed your efficiency lately?
The Harvard Business Review offers a free 25-question online productivity rating assessment, by Robert C. Pozen, senior lecturer at MIT Sloan and the author of “Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours.”
Since a large part of marketing involves learning from our peers and idols — such as those listed on our “25 Influential Women in Digital Marketing Who Rocked and Inspired in 2018” list — it can be helpful to read efficiently, and Pozen offers several tips in this regard.
“Skip directly to the conclusion. Because the conclusion tells you where the writer is going to end up. It usually summarizes his or her main points and, if it’s well done, suggests what the writer thinks are the key takeaways.” — @Pozen Click To Tweet
Pozen also encourages efficiency gains through a three-step process of brainstorming, categorizing, and outlining, which is helpful not just in marketing but in many areas of life.
A study by the National Association for Professional Organizers found that 82% of respondents believed that if they were more organized, their quality of life would be better — a statistic that shows how powerful time management can be in both our professional and private lives.
Can you find any file in less than a minute?
With the astounding amount of information we generate and have access to daily, it’s more important than ever to know how to find exactly what you’re looking for, when you want it, and to not waste time with every single search. And that’s where a good digital filing system comes in.
I consider a good digital filing system, or even better — a full-fledged digital asset management (DAM) system — to be one of the most important parts of working with computers. Far too many people seem to have a haphazard approach to finding anything they’ve saved on their computer or in their cloud storage, being at the mercy of whatever search and indexing system is built in to an app or operating system.
Eighty-five percent of marketers say they are under pressure to create digital assets and deliver campaigns faster, while 79% of organizations are seeing revenue gains from DAM use of 10% or more, according to an Adobe and IDC Infobrief report.
In today’s content-creation-focused marketing world, some of the greatest gains in time savings can come from increased efficiency in managing our digital assets, so I encourage you to put on your marketing archivist hat to do your best research.
Chris Ross of Gartner offers a look at some DAM trends for marketers in his “DAM It! Why Every Marketer Needs a Digital Asset Management Solution.”
“Even if everyone agrees to use of a shared location for content assets, content is often dumped without much thought to an explicit organizational construct, tagging or structure,” he says. “DAM solutions can provide sophisticated tagging and taxonomies so content is efficiently organized and assets can be easily located.”
Personally, I use a two-pronged approach for digital filing, with the underlying system being a simple but effective system of dated folders — one for each year, 12 sub-folders for months, and then daily folders within each month. To ensure the folders for month and day sort in chronological order I use a two-digit month system — 01, 02, 03 on through 12, and a similar two-digit date nomenclature.
Additionally, I use a DAM so that I’m able to perform far more advanced searches than typical operating system or cloud service searches allow, such as “show me all photos from 2007 taken in winter that contain both my friends John and Carol and which contain a car and which were taken at night, which I haven’t yet used in any campaigns.”
Trying to do something like this would take ages to do manually, but a good DAM can make the task easy and even fun. I use a German program called IMatch, while dozens of other powerful DAM systems are available, including Adobe’s Experience Manager Assets and popular Lightroom offering, Canto, and many others.
DAM technology in marketing holds particular interest to me, so look for a future article devoted to it.
Saving time will help you increase efficiency in all manner of marketing, whether it’s influencer marketing as our own CEO Lee Odden examines in “B2B Marketers: Is Your Influencer Marketing Mechanical or Meaningful?” Or any of the other marketing methods trending in 2019, as our Senior Manager of Content Marketing Caitlin Burgess outlines in “TopRank Marketing’s Top 10 B2B Content Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2019.”
The hungriest marketers will be prioritizing their data and insight needs, and paying attention to and seeking out technology or partners that can help. @CaitlinMBurgess #ContentMarketingTrends Click To Tweet
Efficiency in marketing also involves being smart about reaching audiences where we’re most likely to find them, and lately those spots are including podcasts and online video more than ever.
Video is expected to represent 82% of all internet traffic by 2021, while podcasts represent the top audio source by time of consumption among podcast listeners, according to Business Insider and Edison Research.
Whether its video, podcasts or another area, finding the right audience for your marketing campaigns can be a true time saver. So it’s important to know exactly who you’re trying to reach, and where best to find them in the crowd. When you know your target audience, you can cast a narrower net, and save the time of having to whittle down from a top-of-funnel approach.
Five great examples of how B2B marketers have benefited from finding the right audience through keyword research and other tactics are outlined in Lee’s recent “5 Examples of B2B Influencer Marketing to Inspire You in 2019.”
Additionally, our own Content Strategist Anne Leuman uses the lens of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” to focus in on the importance of relating to your marketing audience, in her delightful “5 Marvelous B2B Content Marketing Lessons From Mrs. Maisel.”
Are you scheduling both your daily activities and your social media production calendar?
Using scheduling, planning, and calendaring applications that work well for you can be one of the biggest time and efficiency boosters of all.
It’s important to find ones that fit well with how you work best, so that you’re not working against systems intended to make things easier. Just as we all have various styles of tackling challenges, applications that help us manage time come in a wide variety of digital flavors.
If you’re not happy with what you currently use, experiment with time management methods and apps that you haven’t yet tried. Until you do, you may be missing out on a tool that suits you perfectly.
Most people today schedule, plan, and calendar completely in the digital realm. But some of the most productive people I know still include some variation of the old-fashioned pen and paper.
Simply using time management software isn’t enough, however, especially if it isn’t a solution that works with you, so take time to investigate what’s available.
Eighty percent of marketers use a content calendar, according to report data from our client DivvyHQ, and Lee takes a close look at content planning opportunities in his “New Research: 2018 Content Planning Report from DivvyHQ & TopRank Marketing.” You can read and learn from the report here too:
Would you like to cut your cut-and-paste keystrokes in half?
Decades ago I started setting up all my computers with one very simple adjustment that has saved me millions of repetitive keystrokes or mouse and touchpad clicks — a trick so easy that most people don’t even realize it’s possible.
My top go-to cumulative time-saver of all is setting up my computers to automatically copy and remove formatting for any text I highlight.
If you think of how many times you cut-and-paste something every day, imagine cutting the keystrokes fully in half, and that’s just what you can do by using an auto-copy utility.
Whichever browser you use, you’ll find a variety of extensions or add-ons that will copy whatever you highlight into your computer’s clipboard. Some come with the option to clear all or just some formatting, which is another time saver because you’ll never again have to go in and manually edit out unneeded formatting or markup code.
Here are a few examples:
By riding the productivity wave when it rolls in, being a magical marketing archivist, using smarter scheduling, and honing in on specific target audiences, you may not have saved enough time to retire early, but will have enough to focus and capitalize on new ways to be the best B2B marketer you can be.
Although saving time is a serious undertaking, don’t take it too seriously or you just may take it to extremes. In “Think of the Time I Save” from 1953’s The Pajama Game musical, where factory efficiency expert Vernon Hines sings humorously about the virtues of cumulative time savings, and serves as a warning for taking second-saving too far.
I’ll be sitting counting seconds til the day I die.
And when I do, I have a plan.
Before I’m dead, I’ll dig my grave.
That’s what I said. Before I’m dead I’ll dig my grave.
‘Cause when St. Peter calls my name,
I know I’ll get there just the same but think of the time I’ll save.
Here’s a bonus list of some other helpful articles related to efficiency in marketing:
In addition to these time-saving tips, taking in an industry event is also a great way to efficiently learn new skills and stay up to date on tactics you already use, as Caitlin recently explored in “Content Marketing Gold Rush: How to Unearth Content Gold at Marketing Industry Events.”
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