No Doubt You’re Busy, But Are You Productive?

In a recent meeting, Red McCombs said, “We are all created equal.  God gave each of us 24/7.  What makes us different is how we invest our time.”  Without a doubt, for all of us, time is our most valuable asset.  It is finite, perishable, and irreplaceable. Once you expend your time and your energy, it is “spent.”  Whether you’re in a start-up, a small business owner, or running a large company, making the most of this most precious asset is a top priority. Your time is money.

If you haven’t priced your time recently, take a moment to do so.  Divide your annual income by 8,760 to get a per-hour value (make the denominator 8,784 this leap year) or use a value of time calculator. There are more sophisticated versions that adjust for taxes and cost of living. The latest numbers: 2016 cost of time for a US executive ranges from $49.97- $65.29 per hour.

Your time is worth more than you think.  Time has a major impact on your productivity. Because there is a close relationship between time and productivity.  In fact, there is even an equation for this relationship:

TE=P, where T is time, P is productivity, and E, the secret sauce, is efficiency. 

When we use time smartly we can multiply the productive results.

How to make the best use of your time

There are plenty of tips and tricks for time management, from the basic to-do list and master schedule to reducing meetings and setting deadlines.  Experts tell us that the key is to eliminate tasks simply not worthy of our time. We’re told it’s not a time issue but a focus issue. As business leaders, where should we put our focus? That’s a relatively simple question to answer. We should place our focus on productive activities that generate new customers and increased profits.

Here’s a quick way to identify whether you’re focusing on the most productive activities.  Take your most recent calendar or several weeks of your to-do list.  Go through each item and mark them with one of the following codes:

  • C if the task/item is DIRECTLY related to a customer, such as a call or meeting with a prospective customer or an existing customer or an effort that is directly related to these, such as the plan to launch a new product, or an internal meeting to improve service quality. 
  • O if the task/item is DIRECTLY tied to anything else.

Count up your Cs and Os. What’s your ratio?  Ideally, you want your percentage of time devoted to the Cs to be higher than the Os.

Next up?  How can you be both more effective and efficient with the Cs.  Typically, there are 3 ways: processes, technology, and scaling.  These are related but different.  Processes are the steps taken to complete a task.  Outdated processes are expensive, inefficient, and ineffective.  There goes your productivity. Don’t worry, this is fixable. Organize your processes into those that focus on creating revenue from those designed to reduce costs. Map your processes as they are, and then ask yourself, where are the opportunities to update, streamline (e.g. reduce handoffs and approvals)?

Technology for business typically refers to some type of tool, system or method and often involves a capital expenditure and potentially implementation, configuration and training investments.  Today, many companies are making significant investments in marketing technology (martech). Whether it’s martech, or some other technology, failure rates can be high. If you’re considering technology investments, be sure to avoid implementation pitfalls.  One of the benefits of technology is that it can help you automate processes.  You want to ensure that you have properly designed the process before you automate it.  There’s nothing more frustrating than automating a bad process.

Scaling is about being able to maintain or even increase you and your organization’s level of performance or efficiency as the workload expands.  For leaders, scaling is often achieved in one or two primary ways: delegation and partnering.  When I founded VisionEdge Marketing in 1999, one of our advisory board members offered this piece of advice, “only do what only you can do.”  She was talking about scaling. You can boost your own productivity by delegating activities that are necessary to your business but not necessary for you to do.  Sometimes it makes sense to delegate to an existing resource or to hire someone. Other times you need a specific expertise for a specific period of time, so building a trusted network of partners you can outsource to may actually increase your productivity.

Outsourcing is an effective way for smaller companies to compete with larger competitors. Outsourcing helps smaller players act “big” by giving them access to the same economies of scale, efficiency, and expertise that large companies enjoy.

Outsourcing converts headcount into a variable cost. Leveraging capable external talent enables you to tap experts when you need them, rather than keeping specialized talent on the payroll. This is especially effective for short-term or point initiatives, such as research associated with validating new products, assessing new market opportunities and improving your customer experience. Many of these efforts fall within the domain of Marketing. Developing a network of Marketing experts helps you increase your bandwidth making it possible to address new initiatives quickly while still allowing you to focus on where you are needed most. In essence, the right external team is the hammer that will help you strike while the iron is hot and increase your effectiveness and efficiency because you can scale without hiring or training staff.

Be Thoughtful About How Your Build Your Network

To ensure your outsourcing efforts pay off, take a deliberate approach. Odds are that no single entity will fit all your needs, especially in the realm of Marketing.  Realistically you will need a variety of partners ranging from freelancers, independent contractors, and boutique firms or agencies.  Each entity brings value.  Independent contractors often have depth of expertise in specific areas such as research, product launches, or a particular vertical or industry. Boutique or niche firms offer an excellent and often comparably priced alternative to both independent contractors and large firms. These firms typically specialize and can therefore offer in-depth expertise in a particular domain. This specialization enables them to come up the learning curve relatively quickly. Larger Marketing consulting firms and/or agencies may have a national or international scope and offer highly diversified services.

Include both consulting firms and agencies in your network. Few niche firms can truly and successfully be a “jack of all trades.” Stellar consulting firms focus on analyzing the problem/gaps/opportunities, provide expert advice on the solution and/or solution options, and then support the implementation of the solution. They create and execute marketing campaigns/programs that bring awareness, engagement, and consideration strategies to life. Both types of organizations, however, should be committed to helping you grow by finding, keeping, and growing the value of your customers’ customers. 

Build a strong ecosystem of Marketing partners. The goal is to establish a network of partners that helps you expand your Marketing expertise cost effectively with enough of the right people with the right skills from across all the Marketing disciplines to positively impact the business and enable it to achieve its outcomes. Choose partners who excel at their craft, the secret E in the time and productivity equation.

Want to know more about how to select Marketing partner?  Take us up on a complimentary 20-minute phone call on this topic. Share your tips for selecting marketing partners and include this hashtag #marketingpartnertips.  Want to calculate the value of your time, try this calculator.