May 2017 Special Section

Managing The Chaos Of Small Business Marketing

Written By: Virginia MacKoul

To all of those wearing many hats, this one’s for you. In today’s world, it seems the lines have been blurred for marketing professionals. For small businesses especially, the roles of public relations, communications, branding, customer support, social media management, graphic design, event management, blogging and more have all blended into one role.

Typically, this “Director of Doing” is identified with the title of “Marketing” in some form or fashion. Handling the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of all these functions can be overwhelming at times, and as a company grows, the responsibilities continue to grow as well. But there are some things you can do to better manage the chaos.

We’ve all had days where we were so busy every minute of every hour, but at the end of the day you realize that nothing actually got done. Nothing was crossed off the list or fully completed. This way of working can start to feel like you’re putting out one fire then jumping to the next. It’s neither sustainable, nor effective.

Being busy all the time will ultimately prevent you from being able to do your job. I’m talking about the real work, the bigger-picture, higher-level functions required to continue to facilitate growth for your company. This is where organization and prioritization are key.

As best-selling author Christina Scalise put it, “Organization isn’t about perfection; it’s about efficiency, reducing stress and clutter, saving time and money and improving your overall quality of life.”

So how do we get there? Here are some of my favorite tips, tricks and tools!

To be completely honest, this is still a goal I aspire to achieve (Do as I say and not as I do). Yes, I do still use my notebook during the day as requests and reminders zip by me while I walk down the halls from meeting to meeting. Writing things down is a must sometimes, I get it, but do yourself a favor and digitalize those notes as soon as possible.

Spend 10 minutes at the end of the day to take all those little things and store them all in one place. But where you ask? I highly recommend utilizing an online tool for organization, my favorite of which is Trello.

Trello has been a game-changer for me. In its simplest form, it acts almost like a virtual post-it note. You can easily create and organize tasks, establish priorities, create to-do lists within a task and cross items off the list as you accomplish things.

This tool is intuitive and works great both online and on mobile device apps, and, as a plus, it’s fun to use! Other platforms exist, but the most important thing is to find one that works for you and make a habit out of using it.

We’re all guilty of it – marking an important email as unread or flagging it in hopes that you’ll see it later. I guarantee that as you receive numerous emails throughout your day the little flag or unread/read message isn’t ever going to climb its way back up to the top of the inbox and remind you of its importance. Similar to the notebook trick, convert those emails into actionable items and store all of those tasks and requests all in one place so you can better prioritize your day.

We’ve all been cc’d on email threads where everyone hits reply-all and before you know it, there are fifteen emails in your inbox that don’t pertain to you. This provides yet another distraction from getting things accomplished. This is where tools, like the messaging app, Slack, can help.

Slack is a tool that allows for real time messaging, tagging and file sharing. It’s great for businesses and teams to use for announcements, events, reminders, updates and memos. Using Slack for this type of communication will help tune out some of the noise and clutter in your inbox.

When you feel like you’re so busy that you can’t even break for lunch, that’s usually when you need a quick break the most. Take a minute to pop in and chat with co-workers for a moment, take a “mental minute” as we call it at our company, brainstorm or get outside and go for a short walk. The saying “It’s like a breath of fresh air,” came from somewhere! Most importantly, it’s good for your health. Don’t let yourself get too overwhelmed.

Get into a new routine. Spend some time at the beginning of your day combing through emails, and then spend a little time at the end of the day converting all those little ankle-biters stuck in your notebook or inbox into actionable items. Organize everything in one place based on importance and integrate them into your other tasks. Check out the Time Management Matrix from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Covey proposes categorizing activities between urgent, not urgent, important and not important. Finding a system that makes sense for your workflow will make all the difference!

In the big scheme of things, that missed Facebook post or un-sent email isn’t nearly as big of a deal as it feels like it is in the moment. Goals and priorities are important, however, nothing is ever as important or as urgent as we sometimes make it out to be. Remember to take time to step back and put things in perspective every now and then. Doing so will allow you to clear your mind and attack your work with a renewed sense of vitality.

Finding balance can help you stop being so busy with busy work and allow you to get busy with real work. Get organized, prioritize and become efficient and effective. Most importantly remember that being busy is a good thing. At least that’s what everyone keeps telling me!

VIRGINIA “GINNY” MACKOUL graduated magna cum laude from the University of Florida with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, minoring in Urban Regional Planning. She joined the Front Street team in 2011 and now serves as the Director of Marketing, overseeing all marketing and branding activity.

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