Being a marketer at a startup or young company can feel like running a race with your legs tied together. You’re expected to get to the finish line quickly, but there are all kinds of obstacles in the way of your success. We often engage with marketers at a point when they’re overwhelmed and just want to say “help me!” So, here are some tips for when you’re overworked, understaffed, and treading lightly on budget.

7 things you can do:

1. Remember what’s important, not just what’s urgent

In a fast-paced environment, it’s very easy to lose sight of the important things among the myriad urgent things. Check out Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Diagram of decision-making, and be aware of the difference. Make a list of what to tackle, what to delegate, and what to avoid. First and foremost, block out time in your week to address the long-term, important things or else they’ll always be eclipsed by the need to put out another fire.

2. Align your marketing strategy with your company’s business objectives

This may seem obvious, but it’s astonishing how many young companies rush into creating brand identities or web sites or brochures without clearly defining who they’re trying to influence and what is the focus of the message to the audience. A great and overlooked way to save money is to get it right the first time. Try to be clear about where you’re headed before you set things in motion.

3. Invest your time and budget wisely

Durable, long-term brand assets like names, product positioning, logo design, strategic platforms, key messaging, and a smart and flexible website deliver value that grows over time. If you botch the big picture things, it makes all the smaller things that fill your day-to-day a bigger headache. Go economy on the ephemeral things like printing costs, one-off pieces, pet projects, and pieces you know will be outdated or replaced within 6 months.

4. Kill the dogs, even if they’re cows

You need to know what’s working and what’s not. Track the return on investment for your various marketing initiatives, and allocate time and resources to your best performers. Kill projects that aren’t carrying their weight and delivering value, even if they’re sacred cows. That trade show that “everyone goes to” may be an unnecessary distraction from more profitable efforts when you look at what results you get from it.

5. Get help where you need it

Our agency’s founder has a story about knowing when to ask for help. In classic entrepreneur style, he set out to fix a broken toilet in his home. He read how to fix the problem and set aside three hours to get it done, twice as long as the how-to guides said it would take. Nine hours later, he was done. He called a plumber for the next toilet, who had it good to go 30 minutes. Lesson learned: Do what you’re good at. If there’s an essential task with a steep learning curve, consider a freelancer or agency to handle it for you. They’re scalable, flexible, and they work on your schedule. You can spend more time and money doing something poorly than someone else has down to a science. Bonus: They may be able to identify problems or opportunities that you might miss.

6. Templatize what you can

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time you need to create a new communications piece. While it may be tempting to look at every interaction or collateral piece as its own unique snowflake, there’s a good chance it overlaps with something else you’ve already done or is coming down the pike. Before you dive into creating your 4th tri-fold brochure this month, take a high-level look at your communications needs and map out a document system. Think about your audiences and how you deliver messages to them. Then, invest time and energy in strategic design and top-line messaging that rings true. The finer points can be adjusted whenever a specific communication opportunity arises.

7. Flip your Focus

Many marketers spend as much as 80% of their time worrying about turning website visitors or people engaged with your brand into paying customers, and 20% of their time worrying about getting more visitors in the first place. For most businesses, it’s prudent to flip those ratios to spend most of the time getting more visitors and less time trying for higher conversion rates. This is because awareness is exponential and conversation around your brand will naturally draw in leads without your direct intervention.

Of course, there’s more to say about each of these points. Let us know if you’d like to talk.

Next week: How to overcome a lack of support from the top

Next up:
Top 3 challenges of marketers in young companies and tips to overcome them:
An introduction