3 Powerful productivity tips for understaffed Marketing teams

This article explains 3 actionable tips on what to do when your team is drowning in a flood of work but you just can’t see any output.

Justyna Ciecierska

Justyna Ciecierska

Growth Hacker

It was a rainy Wednesday morning. I arrived at one of my clients’ offices to meet with their marketing manager. Whilst I was struggling with folding my soaking wet umbrella I saw this miserable creature walking up to me. She was holding a cup of coffee so strong I felt more awake just by the smell of it.  

 

‘Good morning’ - she mumbled. 

 

‘Good morning’ - I replied - ‘What’s the matter? No offense, but you look like you’ve been tortured in a medieval prison.’ 

 

‘Yeah, something like that. I’m overworked. We lack people in marketing. I have so much to do I barely have time to take a pee break.’ 

 

‘Ow, crap’ - I thought to myself - ‘Not again…’ 

 

I told her to relax and have a seat. 

 

‘Let’s analyse your situation. I’m sure you’re stressing for nothing and there’s a solution to your problems.’ - I proposed. 

 

We spent 2 hours talking about how hard it is to get sh*t done and drive results with such limited resources. But in the end, the takeaway from this conversation was obvious - they were doing too many things at the same time and they were needlessly manual. 

 

‘Easy peasy!’ - I said out loud with enthusiasm - ‘Let me set up a training session for your team. We’ll help you get your stuff together. Starting next week things should be less stressful and your team more productive. No worries!’ 

 

Seeing this sparkle of hope in her face was priceless. But for me, it was just another day at work…  

 

Like many other companies, they were struggling with growing too fast while having very limited resources to keep up with the tempo. 

Having worked with clients like this we’ve noticed they repeat the same mistakes and get lost in the amount of work they created themselves.  

 

Based on that, we’ve been able to construct an emergency plan that’s universal for any company which is struggling with the same productivity problem.  

Are you one of them? Relax, you’re in the right place.  

Here are top 3 actionable productivity tips on what to do when you’re drowning in a flood of work: 
 

  1. Build a scalable infrastructure 
  2. Focus on customer retention 
  3. Apply the Pareto principle 

Productivity tip #1: Build a scalable infrastructure 

I know buying flowers for your girlfriend is romantic and all… But is it efficient? Not really. Wouldn’t it be better to buy her bulbs so she can put them in the ground and have flowers all the time?  

 

I hear you say: ‘What the heck do flowers have to do with marketing!?’  

 

What I mean here is that you should set things up once and make them work for you while you’re too busy with other stuff.  

 

Here are 2 things you can do to make it happen: 

Marketing automation 

Automate the heck out of your every-day marketing activities.  

 

Example: 

Do you spend a great part of your office time re-following people on Instagram or Twitter and reaching out to them? That’s brilliant! It’s really effective. But not always efficient... 

 

Did you know you could automate it and make your life so much easier? 

If you’re struggling with such time-consuming, repetitive tasks I suggest that you become best friends with Zapier. This tool is a real wonder. It's a service that allows you to connect hundreds of other online apps and systems using simple triggers, filters and actions. 

Need to ensure that new leads from your website are automatically updated in both your CRM and the email system? There's a Zap for that. 

 

 

Want to update a row in a Google Sheet each time someone mentioned you on Twitter – and send them a thank you message? Zapier's got you covered. 

At RockBoost, we rely on it for all kinds of repetitive tasks that once required manual attention and always set it up for our clients. 

Email marketing 

Another area where you can automate a great deal is email marketing.  

Instead of wasting time on creating email blasts every other day think about how you can put your email marketing on autopilot. Think about a solid email flow based on your customer lifecycle.  

This way you make sure you build a machine that sends the right email to the right person at the right time. Just sit back and watch results kicking in. Exactly as we did for one of our e-commerce clients. Look what happened to the revenue chart when we built a few simple automated email sequences: 

This is what we saw when we compared the period when the automations were running with the previous period: 

As soon as you set up this powerful email machine, you’ll have plenty of time to focus on projects you’ve always wanted to work on but never had time for. 

Templates, processes, and learnings 

Templates, cheat sheets, swipe files, processes, checklists… Growth hackers love them all. Before we even start doing anything, we check if there is a template ready to use or a process to follow. If there is none - we create our own and share it with the team so nobody ever has to waste time on reinventing the wheel.  

For example, every time we conduct a marketing campaign we create templates for promotional materials that you can reuse in the future. Changing images and copy takes way less time and effort than designing a whole creative from scratch. Make sure you keep all the materials in one place that everyone on your team can access easily. 

 

Even something as “fluffy” as copywriting can be wrapped in a template or a checklist to get you started. Instead of starting with a blank page hoping for words to start flowing, you can create a guide that will help you overcome the well-known “writer’s block”. 

Keep all your previous work in one place so you can refer to it the next time you’re writing something similar.  

Creating solid processes and systems for your organisation is vital to grow and scale because it’s easy to replicate these processes across your organization. You’ll be surprised how much time and hassle processes will save you. 

 

And the best part – after implementing it, you’ll find yourself working less getting more done. Here are some good reads on the subject:  

(If you’re a bookworm, like us, you might want to see our master list of must-read books for growth hackers, marketing managers and business owners.) 

 

At RockBoost processes are holy. Every month we gather around a table and ask ourselves a question: 

“What’s the one process I could create to save time for myself and the whole team?” 

 

Then we identify bottlenecks and difficulties that prevent us from delivering our work on time. Each teammate commits to creating at least one procedure and sharing it with the rest of the team. We keep track of it in a sprint board. 

Then we identify bottlenecks and difficulties that prevent us from delivering our work on time. Each teammate commits to creating at least one procedure and sharing it with the rest of the team. We keep track of it in a sprint board. 

 

 

You have no idea how much time this saves. And we’re not in “deep sh*t” when someone leaves our team without passing the knowledge to others or when our colleagues are on vacation.  

 

To implement standard processes in your organisation successfully, you make sure your team understands their importance. Don’t accept any excuses for not creating processes and plan time each week for your team to focus on this. 

 

 

Where do you start then?  

The most important procedure and the one you should create as first is an onboarding process for your new employees.  

Thanks to such a document you won’t have to explain how things work to our new colleagues. The only thing you’ll need to do is simply give them access to the documented onboarding process. He/she will be able to read about all the basic stuff needed to get them up and running as quickly as possible.  

Do you realise it’s at least 8 precious hours saved? Remember to improve this process each time someone new joins our team. Ask them for insights! 

Productivity #tip 2: Focus on customer retention instead of acquisition 

If automation and standard processes are not enough to keep up with the pace, turn on the survival mode. In this mode, you focus mostly on customer retention, not acquisition. 

 

Why?  

 

Because it’s cheaper, faster, hence more efficient. Instead of investing your resources in acquiring and onboarding cold leads, focus on those that are already in your base - warm and ready to buy (and buy again). 

 

“(...) a 5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit. Why? Return customers tend to buy more from a company over time. As they do, your operating costs to serve them decline. What’s more, return customers refer others to your company. And they’ll often pay a premium to continue to do business with you rather than switch to a competitor with whom they’re neither familiar nor comfortable.” 

SourceBain & Company, Inc. Prescription for cutting costs: Loyal relationships 

 

Here are some ideas on what you can do to keep them by your side, and make sure they keep on buying your products or paying for your services: 

  • If you’re in ecommerce business, make sure you make a good use of upselling and cross-selling. 
  • Identify your high-touch customers and provide them with the best experience. Check-in with them regularly and make sure they feel loved. 
  • Analyse the behaviour of your returning clients and find out where and when the AHA-moment occurs. Then try to copy-paste this behaviour on the rest of your customer base.  
  • Make sure each contact with your client is highly personalised. Analyse their personal data, their search history, behaviour on the web and within your product and approach them in accordance with that.  
  • Improve customer/client experience across all your touchpoints  

 

If you set this retention machine up correctly chances are you’ll save a surprisingly large amount of time and money. Instead of pumping your budget into generating leads that end up buying from you once, you work out a system that keeps the existing customers in the loop. By doing that, you generate a nice revenue which you can re-invest in new staff to help you get back on track of acquiring new customers.   

Productivity #tip 3: Apply the Pareto principle 

Everyone knows this person that has gazillion new ideas per minute and somehow all of them should be executed right away.  

 

Does it sound like your CEO? Or are you this person?  

 

My advice for you is not to get fixated on this brilliant idea you had last weekend when you were having beers with your friend.  

Don’t push yourself or anyone else to have it done ASAP. If it doesn’t help you or improve one of the most profitable channels - don’t bother. At least not now.  

 

You don’t have enough resources, remember? Put it aside for a while until more people are hired. And please, stop wasting your time on projects that don’t bring you anything just because other companies do it. They probably found out it works for them or they simply don’t know what they’re doing. 

 

Focus on the 20% that drives 80% of the value. Don't aim for perfect, aim for action.  

Sometimes that requires creativity, but something done is better than nothing.  

 

It's known as Pareto-principle: 80% of the effect comes from only 20% of the cause.  

That means that just a small part of your actions will lead to a large part of the results. It is about focusing on what delivers results. At RockBoost we call it “The Hustler Mindset”. 

This principle goes perfectly hand in hand with the law of diminishing returns. As the more time/energy/ etc. we put into something the returns eventually start to decrease: 

 

 

Here’s a real-life example: 

One of our clients spent 10 hours a week on creating Facebook posts just because they assumed it was important to have a regularly updated timeline with a few new posts every day.  

 

But nobody could explain why it was important. We had a quick look at the data and found out organic search was driving at least 15% of their revenue even without much being done in this matter. This is what we call low hanging fruit.  

We conducted a quick SEO scan immediately and found dozens of optimisation possibilities. We handed the list of tasks to their marketing team, told them to stop wasting so much time on Facebook right away and explained what to do to improve SEO instead. Within 3 months we observed a 20% revenue increase.  

 

In the meantime, we explained to them how to automate social media posts and this way we reduced their time spent on it to just 4 hours per week. From that moment on they had more time to improve SEO and drive better results.  

 

Action point 

Here’s an action point for you: install a time tracking browser extension right now and diligently track every single minute you work on something.  

This way at the end of the week (or month) you’ll see where you and your team spent the most time. If you discover the most of it goes to a traction channel that doesn’t bring you significant results you know what to do.   

 

If it’s a traction channel of great importance think of what to do to reduce the time spent on it. Are there any needlessly manual tasks? Is it possible to automate it with Zapier? Be creative. The sky’s the limit. Have you already set up automation? Have you come up with a solution that saves time? Write it down and share it with your team so everyone can follow this process.  

 

Psst… At Rockboost, we’ve created countless processes which I’m sure you could use as well. Let us know what would be most helpful for you and we’ll provide your team with the right documented processes. 

Contact us and we’ll find a solution for you!  

Justyna Ciecierska

Justyna Ciecierska

Growth Hacker