Tick. Tick. Tick. Seconds are ticking away to an inevitable expiration date. Is your stress level rising? Do you sometimes feel like your day is so driven by deadlines it's like one ticking time bomb after another?
The historical definition of a deadline stems from a physical line around a prison which could not be crossed without loss of life. The modern idea of a deadline might range from the blare of your morning alarm clock at the break of dawn to the looming due date of a critical assignment. One way or another, we probably all live with deadlines.
In marketing, deadlines are an inevitable and necessary fact of life. None-the-less they can drive you batshit crazy and stress out even the most "Zen" marketing guru.
So, how we can go from dreading those deadlines to embracing them and making them our bitches (no sexism intended!)?
First, let's consider how we use deadlines to manage our work. Types of deadlines include:
1. External Deadlines
These types of deadlines are imposed by forces usually beyond our control. They might include things like:
2. Hinged Deadlines
In multi-faceted project planning, deadlines are often imposed by a complex hierarchy of integrated tasks. One deadline might hinge on the completion of another. If one deadline is missed, the entire schedule cascades down, pushing the final completion date further or collapsing the schedule completely. Milestone calendars and Gant charts are used to manage these intricate workflows.
3. Team Deadlines
Unlike hinged deadlines, the team deadline requires input from the entire team in order to accomplish an end result. However, in this case, input from one contributor doesn't hinge on the other. These types of projects might include team goals or achievements. The greater the contributions, the more wholistic the end result might be, but lack of participation by certain team members doesn't preclude the completion of the overall task.
4. Self-Imposed Deadlines
These deadlines can be individual or team-based and are the foundation of project planning. Larger tasks are broken down and scheduled so as to track and facilitate progress toward an end-goal. Although self-discipline is necessary, this type of deadline can become your best friend. No, really!
A World Without Deadlines
Could productive, modern lives really be managed without these milestone markers? Deadline haters might think so. Some even claim deadlines are the enemy of creativity or free thinking. Hogwash. The alternative to deadlines, one might say, is chaos. And, no one wants that.
Deadlines, limits, constraints and self-discipline can be effective tools to motivate and facilitate end results. And when used to manage our workflow, deadlines help keep planning in sync and team members on task.
Deadlines and Urgency
Another inherent advantage of the deadline is the built-in sense of urgency. It motivates us to act and thwarts procrastination. Deadlines encourage team-members toward a common goal, fostering efficiency, action and initiative.
Deadlines and the sense of urgency can also be used on prospects and customers. This motivating force can impel users to purchase products, complete tasks, or prompt them to action in a myriad of different ways.
Deadlines Are Your Friend
Have I made a believer of you yet? Are you ready to make the leap that deadlines can be as comforting as your best friend? Well, if you're having trouble wrapping your head around that, maybe you need some tools that make managing deadlines a little easier.
Deadlines and Tools
Time management: From calendars, to-do lists, and reminders, these simple tools can prompt and prod us to stay on task and meet our deadlines. Are you old-school and still love pad and paper, wall or desk calendars and post-it notes? Or have you branched out to the digital world where everything from Outlook to Evernote and a million apps in-between can help us manage our day on our desktops, tablets and phones.
Project management: Software like Basecamp and Asana are essential to many teams, tracking members, collaboration, tasks and milestones. Collaboration/communication tools like Slack, Hive, Fuze and Workzone are also incredibly popular.
Prospect management: Tools that help motivate prospects along a path can include CRM tools, digital marketing, emails and lead nurturing software, limited-time offer messaging and built-in reminders that prompt a visitor or customer to action. These deadline-driven communication tracking tools help us manage and motivate people to join, to respond, to sign-up, to buy and more.
Some of the best marketing tools that have entered the market in the past 5 years are those that help us manage the marketing deadline in one way or another. Not using them? Where have you been my friend!?
Bottom Line: Deadlines are Here to Stay
Our lives are incredibly busy. Marketers simply cannot function without the reality of external and self-imposed deadlines. They help us plan and get shit done. Yes, deadlines make us crazy at times. But, they can also make us crazy productive if we just accept them for what they are -- that familiar sidekick who only has our best interest at heart.
Are you having a hard time meeting your marketing deadlines? Maybe you need a little help. I can offer graphic design, copywriting or general marketing advice to help you get your shit done. Just give me a shout. Hurry, you have a deadline, don't you?
Hi. I'm Barbara Bogue. The name [double b] came from my initials. Here I share tips and advice on marketing, design and copywriting.
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