When I refine my “marketing maintenance list” everything is so much more manageable.
When something is on your marketing maintenance list, it needs to be done weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly, and there is only so far those tasks can be pushed before the next round is due to start. This adds more pressure and I wonder if this is one of the leading causes of marketing burnout.
I’m not necessarily making the argument to just halve your marketing efforts. You’d potentially lose out on something that was going well, but there are ways to make things less mentally taxing, and save you time. Even if you aren’t at risk of being tapped out energetically, making your marketing maintenance list more manageable allows you to maximise your time and brain space. What you choose to do with that is up to you.
First, let’s review what might be on your marketing maintenance list.
As you read through this list below, review what you are doing. You might already have a list, so check if anything below should be on this list physically, instead of on your mental list. If anything below is something you do, and it’s not on your list because you do it so instinctively, write it down. You can then review it throughout this process, and remove the requirement of your brain keeping tabs on every minute detail.
This is not an exhaustive list. Depending on how you do your marketing, there will be other tasks on your list, but it is important to only include those tasks that you must do repeatedly, and leave your projects, like creating a new email marketing welcome sequence, integrating a new software, or building a new website. You can certainly better manage those projects, but for right now you will benefit most by focusing on those recurring tasks.
Anything you do weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or quarterly can be included in your maintenance list. I find annual tasks are better fitted into the project bucket. This is partially because there is a big gap between them, but the other half is that marketing is ever evolving, and it's highly likely that the needs of the task will change year to year, so it requires that step of planning. This step of planning is usually the same or similar to the approach you would have for a project.
Each item on your list will have many smaller sub-tasks, and you might choose to break them down into those sub-tasks, so you can then optimise for each specifically at a deeper level.
You might notice a couple of things on your list truly do not need to be on there. That’s okay. If they are really not important at all, and no one should be doing that thing, just cross it off. If it's really missed, it’ll force its way back onto the list.
You’ll want to keep anything that has direct or indirect benefits, or anything that people would notice if you stopped doing. Even larger tasks can be worthwhile if you can find a different approach or optimisation.
What can be completed, or reduced through automation?
You may not even know how right away, but just take note of what could theoretically be sped up by artificial intelligence, or a tech solution. You can find the solution that automates that problem once you’ve finished your list.
Tasks that require the same information every time can often be automated, like follow up emails. Automation can customise people’s name or details, so you don’t need to write a thank you email each time you have a discovery call. These steps can be triggered by a manual action, so that an automation doesn’t start if something ahead of the process has been delayed to give you a chance to intervene.
You might like to set up an automation so that once you complete a discovery call with a potential client, they are sent an email thanking them for their time, and confirming they will hear from you within 3-5 business days with your proposal. You might need to manually start that automation in your chosen sales CRM software so you can confirm the call took place and has now ended, but you don’t need to bring up the document and paste in the email that is generic anyway, or worse type it up every time.
Take a look at my favourite tools here.
What on your list could you minimise by batching or by doing less of it? The latter is a tougher decision, but when you combine a group of tasks together you can save yourself the mental load of setup and getting started, and streamline your process so you do the same thing 4 times one after the other, in one sitting.
When choosing to reduce, this might mean you shorten the thing you’re doing. For example, your YouTube videos are shorter, requiring less scripting, recording and editing time. This could even be the solution that in turn skyrockets your retention. You might like to try posting to the same platforms, but reduce your caption length from mini-blog to writing enough to get the point across. That energy can now be shifted into something else, and some of the pressure comes off.
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When I refine my “marketing maintenance list” everything is so much more manageable.
What could you create a system for, so you could more mindlessly complete each part of the task?
Sometimes this can be as simple as having a checklist for your task that you work through one step at a time, so you don’t have to retain those steps in your brain. Sometimes it can be creating templates for graphics and documents, so your starting point is at 20% instead of 0%.
When you formalise this system, it is often referred to as a standard operating procedure (SOP). This is a simple document that can be passed on throughout your team, so that when you’re taking a vacation, otters can step in. Even if you don’t have a team, it can be handy to build SOPs in the form of a checklist or document so you can retain less information, and take the pressure off your brain.
Which of your items can be delegated to someone else?
They might take a little longer to do the task for a while than you did, but by freeing up your brain, this efficiency allows you to work on something that is more important. In time, the person who does this task will become as fast as you, if not better at doing that task. They may spot inefficiencies you didn’t.
The 70 + 70 = 140 rule works like this. I’ve seen clips of Codie Sanchez talking about this. When an employee does the role 70% as good as you could, some might fire that person, because they aren’t efficient enough. But if you add another employee who does something else at 70% what you could, you get 140%.
Instead, let’s say you only had one part time employee or contractor. All the work they do might be work that if you were doing it, you’d finish it in 70% of the time. It's now work you don’t have to do, so you can spend that time you have now saved for yourself doing work that is revenue generating, even if it is only 20% of your work time. That employee or contractor may not be doing revenue generating work, but they do allow you to produce more, by doing work that someone needs to get done for the wider ecosystem to keep functioning.
Now, a caveat: You should first automate, reduce and systematise to set them up for success. You should get that task to a point where you have a decent SOP, then hand it off to the person who will take responsibility from now on.
Alternatively, you can hire an expert, who does not need an SOP, because they do this work all the time, and just need access and a certain amount of information from you. They also fully understand what they need from you so the handoff is simple. They may even know more about this task than you do. It is then only a decision of where you will invest the expense, and whether you have the ability to make the investment.
These are the tasks that can’t fit into any of the fixes above, but also need to be on your personal list. Maybe you’ve already optimised them, and now, they’re just things that have to be done.
I believe this is a process people should go through at least once a year, if not quarterly. Sure, you could evaluate if you could improve the task every time you did the task, but that would be pretty taxing, and negate the point of optimisation, so it's best to balance how often you review your list.
After you optimise your marketing maintenance list, and your workload, it’s up to you how you use this new time and energy. You may choose to take on more marketing, more revenue generating work, or simply leave work earlier. The payoff of your optimisation is up to you.