B2B firms with over 250 employees estimate that in an average month the marketing staff allocates about 62% of their time to content production. That translates to about $558,400 worth of internal marketing headcount spend devoted exclusively to content production each year.” —The $958M Marketing Problem

Deadlines are the best friend you never knew you wanted. They are an essential tool for creating a successful content management process, and they serve as a simple, yet effective, way to pinpoint and address efficiency gaps.

Yet setting a series of deadlines doesn’t magically make the content development process flow with ease, and it won’t automatically get your team on board with collective collaboration.

A recent B2B marketing study shows that “52% of firms frequently miss deadlines from approval delays, collaboration, and ‘general chaos’ in content production processes.”

Time to call on your best buddy the deadline and see how to reimagine its purpose in your content process.

The Art of Creating a Good Deadline

When it comes down to it, there’s an art to creating deadlines that work for your overall content development process, team, and big-picture marketing goals.

You need to keep all these factors in mind when setting deadlines and putting them into motion so they enhance productivity with a sense of purpose. The efficiency of your content cycle depends on it.

Some tips to keep in mind:

Set a Realistic Deadline That Has a Clear Purpose

Setting deadlines just to crack the whip doesn’t work. Think through the steps and challenges you might encounter, and then create enough wiggle room to handle the worst-case scenario.

This strategy keeps the project in a safe zone and allows extra time to get things done without setting your hair on fire. A realistic deadline also shows team members that you honor their contributions and respect their time.

Create Deadlines That Include Accountability

When I used to work for IBM, my team worked according to the “hot potato” philosophy. If I knew I was responsible for something, it was in my best interests to get it done on time and pass the “potato” to the next person.

This was part of the work culture, but more importantly, I respected the fact that other people’s work couldn’t be completed without my contribution. The success of the project depended on my “hot potato.” If I encountered a challenge, I let my team know before deadline.

Ask for Team Member Input When Setting Deadlines

Each person on the team has an idea of the realistic timeline they need to complete their portion of work. It’s important to get this information directly from the source (your team), rather than force an arbitrary timeline just because you aren’t familiar with the type of work.

How Deadlines Help in the Big Picture

They Help You Prioritize the Right Tasks and Timeline

When something is a priority, it gives you insight on what to shift in order to make room for what’s most important. If everything is of equal importance in the eyes of your team, or each task needs to be done “yesterday,” people feel buried under a never-ending pile of work.

Be honest about priority levels and stay realistic about what’s possible, or you could end up drastically lowering project and team morale.

They Create Clarity Around What It Takes to Accomplish a Specific Goal

When you get down into the nitty-gritty details of assigning tasks, the scope of work becomes clearer. It’s also easier to get buy-in from your team to work toward a common goal.

This is essential in the content development process, as it’s an ongoing wheel of planning, creation, polish, and distribution for various content pieces.

They Get You Closer to Being a Content Powerhouse in Your Niche

It’s easier to manage deadlines when you have the right combination of tools and great people who are on board with the end game. If you struggle with a way to bring it all together, focus on what you really need to stand out, then make it simpler and more efficient.

Recent marketing research has shown that “efficiency experts are 7x more likely to invest in technology to help streamline their content processes.” Because they sought out tools that helped them speed up their workflow, these experts also had a “50% cost reduction on headcount and external resources from more efficient workflows, approval processes, and centralized visibility of overall content production.”

If your team struggles with tracking deadlines or sharing information, it might be time to consider technology tools to fill efficiency gaps. When things are centralized, clear, and easily accessible, efficiency is a great side effect.

Have some simple tips for creating—and meeting—deadlines? Share them in the comments!

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Katrina Pfannkuch

About Katrina Pfannkuch

Katrina Pfannkuch is a creativity consultant specializing in writing, editing, strategy & coaching. She's a bit of a data nerd & loves seeing how pieces of the informational puzzle come together to paint a creative picture. Catch Katrina & her insights on kick-starting creativity at @creativekatrina on Twitter.

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