The Marketer’s Playbook

A guide to turning your marketing strategy into success

How do effective marketing teams consistently produce great work? Process. Your programs involve complex work, and you don’t have time to start from scratch. You need a blueprint to repeat your success.

This free guide shines a light on how to create processes that turn your marketing strategy into results.

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Introduction

Marketing is more complex than ever

More channels, more content, more formats. If you're a marketer, this likely sounds familiar to you. Today, marketing teams have a dizzying array of digital tools and tactics at their disposal to reach more people, more frequently, and more precisely—all with the goal of winning more customers.

But across this sea of digital channels, media formats, and tools, the day-to-day work of marketers has grown exponentially—both in volume and complexity. It used to be that you’d run seasonal campaigns throughout the year on a few channels. Now, you’re expected to deliver fresh content on a near daily basis across multiple channels in evergreen integrated campaigns.

In recent years, more technology appeared to be the answer. As of May 2017, there are almost 5,000 marketing technology (or “martech”) companies. (In 2011, there were 150.) Most of these tools, however, are built for delivering content while marketers spend the vast majority of their time planning and producing that content.

The gap between marketing technology and marketing reality is real, and marketers are struggling to stay afloat. From mapping out clear strategies and project plans to coordinating across various functions and staying up to date on campaign progress, marketers have a tangled web of work to keep track of.

And without a unified way to manage the many, many marketing activities required to successfully move from strategy to project plan and execution, it’s far too easy to have something fall through the cracks and get completely off track.

So, what can marketers do? The answer is to plan, manage, and track all your marketing processes in one place, from strategies to execution. Read on to learn how to:

4 min read

Navigating the maze: Turning strategies into tactics

Your marketing strategies are your team’s manifesto. Your north star. Your playbook. OK, you get the idea. So how do you determine what your strategies should be? How do you make sure the work your team is doing aligns with your strategies? How do you measure their effectiveness? Whew... there’s a lot to think about.

Defining your strategies is the first step, and then you need to operationalize and execute them. Sounds easy, right? In theory, yes. But in reality, it’s not that simple. Instead, try these best practices to successfully navigate the maze from strategy to tactics to results.

Define your overall goal and identify top opportunities

While every marketing team uses different strategies to achieve their business objectives, and ultimately further the company’s mission, having clearly defined and actionable strategies are a universal need. For example, you may have strategies to find new ways to acquire customers, expand in new markets, increase customer adoption, and encourage customer advocacy.

Before you start defining your strategies, though, there’s some prep that needs to happen:

  1. Define the vision for your team: What is the overarching purpose of your team?
  2. Get problem clarity: What problems do your customers or business face? How and where can marketing solve those problems?
  3. Consider the end-to-end customer journey: Where can you connect with customers at every stage of their journey? What do they care about at each stage?

The answers you come up with will help guide your strategy development and ensure you’re leveraging the right opportunities to achieve your main goal, connect with your customers, and make the biggest impact on your business.

Co-create your strategies

Now it’s time to start drafting your strategies. Make this a collaborative effort with your team—hold brainstorms, informal discussions, and encourage questions and feedback. It’s easier to get buy-in from your team when you co-create your strategies together.

After your strategies are outlined, you need to determine the key metrics and results you plan to drive. During this phase, it’s also important to consider obstacles and challenges that could impact success and execution. Then, prioritize your strategies in order of impact and importance to the business and your team.

Once all of these details are finalized, put them in a place that’s easily accessible and visible to everyone on your team. Don’t keep them hidden in a notes doc or presentation from your offsite in some obscure folder on your hard drive that no one can find—and never take action on.

Tip: In a work management tool like Asana, create a new project to house your strategies so they’re accessible and visible to your entire team.

Let’s get tactical

Once your strategies are in a central place, assign a point person for each strategy. They’ll work with the appropriate teammates to plan the programs and initiatives (i.e. the tactics) that will help you hit your goals.

What makes a good initiative?

List each initiative, such as “Update brand and product messaging” or “Launch a product tour,” under the corresponding strategy so it’s clear how work ladders up. This helps everyone on the team have clarity on the purpose and impact of the work they’re doing.

Create it. Save it. Use it. Repeat.

Based on your strategies, there are probably initiatives your team will be doing on a regular basis: ad campaigns, product launches, customer events, and blog posts. Standardizing these processes will help your team execute effectively and efficiently every time, no matter who’s driving the work. It’s best to keep these templates in the same tool where you’re tracking your strategies and work so everything stays connected.

There are a lot of benefits to standardizing workflows, but here are our top five:

Know where work stands, all the time

Once your team is in full execution mode, it can quickly become difficult to know where work stands for each strategy, especially if the work is being managed and tracked in different places. Just as you’re tracking your strategies in an accessible place, it’s important to carry that practice over to the work being done.

Constantly asking for status updates and progress reports is tedious, not to mention a time suck for everyone involved. By keeping key dates, milestones, and work in a central tool, you’ll have visibility into what people are working on, and you can check in on progress at any time—without nagging teammates for an update. It’s a win-win for everyone.

It’s also important to make sure your team is prioritizing the right work. Consider having each person on your marketing team share their top priority for the week in a quick chat message or centralized discussion every Monday morning. This will keep everyone in the loop on the work happening across the team (especially leaders and stakeholders) without wasting anyone’s time in a meeting.

“We use Asana to increase our team’s efficiencies and track our projects in each stage of the marketing funnel. It’s been invaluable to track all of our work and conversations in one central place.” — Ryan Bonnici, CMO at G2 Crowd

Ready, set… execute!

Marketing strategies are the foundation of your work as a marketer. But the key to your team’s success (and the fun part!) is in the tactics you execute for these strategies. Now that you know how to operationalize your strategies, let’s dig into specific ways you can execute your campaigns, editorial calendar, events, product launches, and design assets more effectively—so you can get a higher ROI from your work.

6 min read

In perfect harmony: Executing smooth campaigns

Conducting a modern-day marketing campaign means constantly adapting to new campaign types, audiences, channels, and tools to tell better stories more effectively. The internet has both simplified and complicated campaign management. There’s faster communications and content creation, but also far more to keep track of, with high costs for mistakes (...that can live on the internet forever).

The most successful campaigns take careful planning and strong execution. But tracking so many moving pieces, deadlines, and communications creates opportunities for missteps. Even dropping the ball on a seemingly small task can be costly for your campaign and company (like that time you included the wrong link in your email.)

Savvy marketers learn from mistakes, and even savvier ones learn the best practices to avoid them. Here’s how to plan and manage your next marketing campaign—from concept to launch—and keep your team working in perfect harmony.

Create a campaign brief

Sometimes it’s not until you’re a few weeks into working on your campaign that you think, “Wait… what am I actually doing and why?” If you don’t have clear goals and strategies mapped out in an accessible place, you won’t rely on them to guide your efforts.

One way to avoid this situation is to create a creative brief before you kick off campaign work. Even better, create a campaign brief template you can use over and over with each campaign you run.

While there are a lot of ways to do a brief, there are a few key pieces of information that help campaign teams move projects forward and keep them aligned—while leaving enough space for creativity.

Nail down your campaign schedule

When your brief is ready, kick off the project with your team to decide your strategies and tactics. As you go through the specifics of your campaign, it’s important to map out a timeline and to establish clear due dates for when key milestones need to be completed. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Remember, your campaign is an ongoing conversation with customers versus one loud shout. Think about how this campaign can tie in with other marketing efforts, now and in the future. Most importantly, make sure everyone on your campaign team has a clear understanding of when things are happening so that they can stay on track as they execute on their part of the campaign.

“Visualizing and getting everything into a single view is a huge help. I can see the entire workload and make decisions to improve efficiency. Sometimes I’ll notice gaps or that someone is overloaded. With Asana, I can adjust accordingly.” — Mike Waecker, Marketing Project Manager at InVision

Stay in sync with your team

Ever been in a campaign status meeting that covers everything you just read in an email? Because of all the moving parts, effective communication is essential to successfully pulling off a marketing campaign. But while status updates can help move work forward and keep teams on the same page, they can also be time-consuming and repetitive as campaign leads cobble together too much information that teammates don’t value.

To avoid that, establish a regular cadence for sharing updates. The frequency of your updates will vary depending on the scope and timeline of your campaign. For instance, if your campaign schedule for planning, production, and rollout spans an entire quarter, it’s best to share updates at least once a week so that your team knows where things stand from week to week. For a scrappy, last-minute campaign, you may want to share daily updates to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

Make everything easily accessible

As you move from planning to production and closer to your campaign launch date, there’s less and less time to waste on tracking down important files or trying to remember what you decided on a previous version of a doc.

Instead, make sure to keep conversations and campaign files easily accessible from one place. Nothing is worse than digging through old emails to locate an attachment or finding out that you’re working on an outdated draft. But when you keep everything in one place—with the context of the work they correspond to—teammates can easily find what they need and quickly understand where things stand.

As you approach your launch date, make a checklist of all of the things that you need to verify before going live (links work, content is in the right places, proofreading). Make this list accessible to everyone on your team as well and make sure that somebody is responsible for each item on the list.

After your campaign launches, check in on it regularly and evaluate how it’s tracking towards your goals. Have a fast and easy way to capture these updates and prioritize them for teammates to tackle to ensure your campaign doesn’t flop.

How InVision manages and executes marketing campaigns illustration
Customer spotlight

How InVision manages and executes marketing campaigns

“When you’re remote, there are a lot of subtleties that can be missed without over-communication,” says Mike Waecker, a Marketing Project Manager at InVision. To launch campaigns successfully with a 100% remote team, constant communication is critical. And it needs to be centralized so everyone knows where to find the information they need. Mike’s solution to keeping everyone on the same page? All communication and work for a campaign is done in Asana.

By centralizing information, communication, and files in Asana, the entire team has visibility into what’s happening across the campaign. This transparency helps the team feel connected and aligned, regardless of the distance between them. “Being a remote team is an incredibly unique setting. It forces us to think about things that we otherwise wouldn’t have to think about,” says Mike.

Read the full story

Learn from your campaign

So your campaign is finally live, but before you move on to the next thing, make sure you’re analyzing results and takeaways to inform your process for next time. After your campaign winds down, get your team together for a retrospective to reflect upon things like: Did the campaign meet its goals? Did our plans stay on track? What were the most and least successful aspects of the campaign? How can we replicate the good and refine the bad?

This is a good way to capture your campaign process—including all the ins and outs—for future reference. And instead of keeping all of this information in a doc you’ll never revisit, use them to create a campaign management template that outlines all of the steps, assets, and work you need to complete to successfully launch.

The more detail you include in your template, the less planning and setup you’ll need to do for future campaigns. So the next time you get ready to run a campaign, everything is already in one place and you can focus on getting better results.

5 min read

Storytime: Creating an effective content calendar

In the past decade, more and more marketing teams are becoming publishers, telling the stories that their customers are most interested in consuming. Content marketing now includes anything that your customers will see, read, or watch—from social media posts and emails to blog posts, case studies, infographics, and videos. Not only that, this content needs to serve different stages of the customer journey while creating a cohesive experience from one channel to another.

This isn’t an easy job, especially because multiple (if not many) contributors are often involved, there are lots of moving pieces to track, and communication is scattered. There is a way to do this successfully, though. Whether you publish content on a regular cadence or on the fly, it’s important to create a workback schedule for every piece you produce and to track every piece in a dynamic, unified calendar.

The following best practices will help you bridge the divide between your content production process and editorial calendar so you can publish higher-quality content that’s coordinated across channels.

Create a workback schedule

For content that you produce regularly, such as blog posts, case studies, or how-to videos, standardize the process and create a workback schedule that all content creators use every time. This will ensure everyone is following the right steps (in the right order) to take a piece of content from idea to publication. It also helps you accurately plan publication dates.

The steps and time allocated for each will differ depending on the content type and format, but accounting for each will help you set realistic expectations for all of the content demands placed on your team. So the next time you receive a last minute request for “a short blog post,” it’ll be easy to explain why the requested publication date isn’t realistic.

When creating your workback schedule and allocating time for each step, here some other things to think about:

Track all content in one place

When you’re tracking content across various tools, like email, spreadsheets, and documents it’s impossible to get a single view of everything: what’s being produced, what channel it’s for, what its status is, and when it’s being published. The solution? Track all of the content your team is producing in one place. Include anything that your customers will read, see, or watch: blog posts, emails, social media posts, case studies, you name it.

Connecting your content creation process to your editorial calendar has the added benefit of making it clear to other teams and stakeholders just how much content your team has to produce and publish. It’s easy to fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality when you can’t see everything, but centralizing everything makes it crystal clear.

“Asana is the glue that connects our 3 production offices in San Francisco, London, and Sydney. It gives our content operation a transparency that’s impossible with email, enabling sales, marketing, PR, and finance a vital window into our schedule and workflow.” — Chris Beaumont, Creative Director at CBS Interactive

Get a holistic view on a calendar

Once you’re tracking all of your content in one place, it’s easier to sync on important dates, spot overlaps or gaps, and shift things around. For example, when you publish a blog post about a new product, you’ll probably want to share the news in an email and post on your social media accounts, too. It’s challenging to coordinate these efforts if you can’t visualize key dates on a calendar.

Whether you like to see the due date for each step or only publication date, you’ll be able to get a sense of what’s happening quickly. The level of detail included on the calendar is up to you.

Tip: In Asana, you can use Calendar View to see when specific tasks are due for a specific piece of content, or to get an overview of your entire editorial calendar.

How DoubleDutch amplifies customer stories and creates compelling content illustration
Customer spotlight

How DoubleDutch amplifies customer stories and creates compelling content

“Your customers are your best salespeople,” says Brittany Lindquist, Head of Content and Customer Marketing at DoubleDutch. This belief led her to develop a content marketing strategy that focuses on customers in their storytelling. To execute successfully, they rely on a centralized content calendar so everyone knows what’s being produced by whom, when, and why.

“Before I used Asana, there was never a centralized content calendar that everyone could see. Not having that calendar meant that people could easily miss their deadlines and we never really knew where a project stood,” Brittany explained. Now the team has more time to focus on being customer-centric and producing content to meet customers’ needs in different stages of their journey.

Read the full story

Centralize communication about content

A central calendar is nothing without communication and context to go along with it. One way to keep everyone in the loop is to communicate about a piece of content you’re working on in the same place that you’re tracking the production process.

This way, writers, designers, and other teammates know where to go to get context, ask questions, or share updates about the content. Additionally, discussions around timing will be more productive and actionable since you have the added context of your workback schedule and editorial calendar to reference.

“When you have up to 40 people involved in creating content for a brand publication, it’s easy to lose track of all the moving pieces. Asana helps us keep track of our work and is the central place for all of our team communication.” — Alex Cook, Content Marketing Manager at Autodesk

From idea to publication

Developing great marketing content can be overwhelming and unmanageable, but by aligning your production process with your editorial calendar, you’ll keep all of the moving pieces on track—even as timing and priorities shift. Creating valuable assets for every stage of the customer journey isn’t easy, but having a solid process, a central place to track content, and streamlined communications will help you tell great stories more efficiently and effectively.

6 min read

Creative production: Designing a pixel-perfect process

Peanut butter and jelly. Wine and cheese. Milk and cookies. Like these classic pairings, marketing and design work together beautifully. That is, when the process for creative production is running smoothly. Creating compelling assets that appeal to customers is an essential part of every marketing team’s strategies for hitting their business goals. The process behind that work is just as essential, but isn’t always a breeze.

From misalignment around expectations to miscommunication, or worse, missed deadlines, working together across marketing and design has its share of challenges. More often than not, critical information—like project specs and timelines or creative mandatories—are scattered in various places: Word docs, emails, chat messages, sticky notes, you name it. And when it comes to managing feedback and approvals, the picture only gets muddier.

Whether you’re running a small design team or a full creative services shop, it’s important to have a clear and efficient production process so that everyone can successfully deliver against your marketing strategies. Here are some ideas for how to get the creative request process right.

Create a single home for all design requests

For many design teams, it’s not uncommon for work requests to come in from what feels like every channel: messages over Slack asking for design help on a presentation, passing hallway conversations about a landing page, emails to different designers asking for the same thing. Keeping track of all these seemingly random requests gets tricky, fast. The best way to manage this is to centralize your creative production process—and that starts with establishing one place for submitting all requests.

This can be a web form, a project in Asana, or a combination of the two. The important thing is to designate one place—and one place only—for all incoming requests. This way, everyone knows where to go to move forward on projects: Marketing managers can request creative assets for their digital campaigns, events, and blog content. Designers and copywriters know where to look for new project assignments or status updates. And most importantly, design managers have a single, clear view of all the work happening on their team at any given time.

Clarify who manages requests

Once you’ve determined where all design requests should go, make sure you’ve designated someone to be in charge of it so that those requests get prioritized and assigned promptly. For smaller design teams, this might be the design lead or manager. On larger teams, this might be a project manager or creative producer. Either way, you need at least one person to monitor and manage incoming requests on a regular basis so that nothing gets missed.

Finally, don’t forget to let your other teams know where they should submit creative requests. One way to make sure teams follow this process is to make it clear that any design requests submitted another way will not be worked on. Be sure to also set expectations about what information team members should provide before creative work can begin.

“With Asana, we execute on requests with greater speed and efficiency without letting anything fall through the cracks. We now have more time to focus on being creative.” — Sarah Wormser, Creative Project Manager at ClassPass

Make a template for creative briefs

To ensure that designers have enough information to get started on projects, develop a creative brief template and require team members to fill one out with every request. A solid brief can be a designer’s best friend, and creating a standard version makes for a smoother request process.

Every design team will tailor its creative brief to suit their specific needs, but at a minimum, a creative brief should clearly define the marketing goals that the design work accomplishes, set expectations around scope and deadlines, and clarify who the stakeholders are. If any requests are part of a larger marketing campaign, event, or product launch, be sure to ask team members to link to or attach the overall campaign or launch brief and other relevant documents.

Tip: If you’re using a web form, you can create fields for the information you need. Or if you’re using a work management tool like Asana, you can create a template task.

Additionally, your creative brief should include any design specs, such as delivery format, sizing, and any other required elements. For example, do image files need to be delivered in .png or .jpg format? Do they need to be sized differently for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn? If there are any relevant examples, be sure to include those, too.

By creating a template for your project briefs—and making them easily accessible to everyone for your team—designers get answers to key questions sooner and can jump right into the creative work. And not only does this get everyone on the same page early on, it’s also a useful artifact to refer back to throughout the design process to help team members stay aligned.

Manage feedback and approvals

On many marketing teams, requesting design work and reviewing it are often two separate processes. For instance, you might email a request to a creative producer and then send feedback directly to the designer over chat a few weeks later. If there are multiple rounds of reviewers and approvers, things can quickly become confusing. To keep up with everyone’s feedback and get a clear sense of how to move forward on design work, it’s important to integrate the request process with reviews and approvals.

Organize all relevant discussions, notes (from design critiques, for example), and reference materials with the original design request. Doing so gives designers the full context they need to work on any given request. Additionally, it makes it easy for reviewers and approvers to quickly get up to speed on the status of a project, instead of spending time trying to make sense of where things left off from a previous design iteration.

Additionally, set clear expectations for how many rounds of review are needed as part of the request workflow. This will help you avoid missed timelines due to endless rounds of review. And when giving design feedback, consider the following:

  1. Give feedback you’re uniquely suited to give. If you’re not a designer or writer, don’t try to be one. If you’re a marketer, draw from your particular expertise to inform your opinions.
  2. Explain why. It’s okay not to like something, but be sure to explain why. Better yet, ground your feedback in the goals and requirements of the creative brief or relevant data points.
  3. Avoid mixed messages. When giving feedback, distinguish between “nice to haves” and “blocking feedback.” This way, designers have a clear sense of what changes they need to make before something can ship.
  4. Be kind. If you really like something, call it out. A little positivity goes a long way in making your creative team feel valued.
  5. Trust your judgment. Giving good creative feedback is an exercise in balancing intuition and logic. So if the data says one thing, and your gut says another, go with what will produce the best experience for your customers.

Last but not least, encourage stakeholders to clearly indicate when something is approved. It’s easy to take for granted, but there’s nothing more frustrating for designers than to assume something is final, only to find out a couple days later that it actually isn’t.

Cut, copy, and paste

As you start to roll out your creative requests process, get feedback on how it’s working with the rest of your marketing team and iterate on it as necessary. Once you’ve fine-tuned your process, you can replicate it for other work requests happening on the team, like copywriting, web development, or swag. No need to redesign the wheel every time.

6 min read

Let’s party: Planning marketing events

Though a significant amount of marketing activities have shifted to the digital realm, there are still clear benefits for hosting in-person events and emphasizing human connection. Events can be higher stakes, but when done properly, they foster a better relationship with customers, putting faces behind your brand. Whether to connect with potential customers, celebrate existing ones, or attract job-seekers, events play a huge role in the success of a company’s marketing efforts.

But in order to provide an outstanding experience, event marketing managers often work under tight deadlines and high stress. They have to manage countless stakeholders inside and outside of the organization, juggle competing priorities, and remember the tiniest details—so it’s no surprise that event planning is one of the most stressful jobs out there. And while other marketing functions can tap into specialized tools and technology to do their jobs more effectively, many event planners are still left with to-do lists, spreadsheets, and email.

There is a better way, though. Here are a few strategies for visualizing your entire event plan and making it collaborative. The more systematic your plan is, the more room you have to go above and beyond on what you plan for the event instead of just how.

Visualize your event plan

When you’ve decided on your general event plan and goals, you need a dynamic way to map it out. Planning what needs to be done by when and making that visible to the team helps everyone know how they’ll contribute and execute successfully.

But storing your plan in a doc can be risky: It takes effort to keep it up to date and it may not be very useful for anyone but the event manager driving the plan. Aim for work management tools. They help you create workback schedules so each event task has a deadline. When everything is all mapped out, event managers can see overall timelines, determine how feasible they are, and help their event team prioritize more effectively.

And since events typically have several big milestones, with tons of smaller steps in between, it’s helpful to break up all the work that goes into producing an event into pieces. Tactically (and psychologically) it’s easier to get started on something smaller. Breaking down the big picture into its individual parts helps your team take first steps to get started and see how their work plays into larger goals.

How World Press Photo produces a traveling exhibition in 45 countries illustration
Customer spotlight

How World Press Photo produces a traveling exhibition in 45 countries

Every year, World Press Photo Foundation curates a traveling exhibition of photos showcasing the best work from visual journalists and storytellers across the globe. The exhibition visits 100+ cities in 45 countries and is seen by over 4 million people, so juggling all of the moving pieces takes a lot of coordination—and a detailed workback schedule.

After deciding on the ideal guest experience for each event, Suzan van den Berg, the exhibitions coordinator, checks to make sure the workback schedule is clearly documented so everyone knows who’s responsible for what by when. “Asana helps us ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Even the smaller steps of our process are in Asana—little details are the key to a successful event,” says Suzan. Since timing and responsibilities are clear, the team has more time to spend on unexpected challenges that arise—from censorship laws to customs and immigration to communicating with partners across the world.

Read the full story

Communicate effectively

Meetings, email, and calls can get overwhelming fast and pull you out of precious focus time to review and refine your event strategy and materials. You can’t always clear your calendar, but you can be more strategic about how you communicate to save time and prevent miscommunications.

As every event manager knows, planning an event involves communicating with a wide array of stakeholders inside and outside your organization, from field marketers and senior executives to vendors and creative agencies. Have a strategy for how you will communicate instead of blasting every channel or making sporadic updates to maximize efficiency and clarity.

For example, you can get in the habit of posting status updates at a consistent time, using chat for urgent questions, and inviting external stakeholders into your working space so you don’t have to send them separate communications.

Sharing regular status updates comes with another benefit: fewer ineffective meetings. Meetings should be about collaboration and communication, but often they entail slogging through a list of updates nobody is paying attention to. When you get in the rhythm of writing regular updates, people will know where to go for general information and can use meetings to get into specifics.

Communicating effectively also means keeping information accessible. Silos happen when people don’t share or understand what is going on elsewhere or. This can happen unintentionally (you forgot to CC them) or inadvertently (information wasn’t accessible). Instead, use a shared platform that, at a minimum, has your event plan, goals, milestones, schedule, and responsibilities mapped out.

Expect the unexpected… and execute

As you work towards your event (and even during the event itself), new problems and questions you didn’t anticipate will crop up, no matter how solid your plan. But instead of letting these things derail work and fluster your team, have a plan to tackle them efficiently.

One way to do that is to systematize work requests. Have a system to capture new event requests and needs in a standard format to minimize back and forth and to make the “ask” clear.

You can make a request template that is quick for the requester to fill out, and simple for a project manager or contributor to evaluate. Make things like deadline, urgency, how the work ties in with existing plans, and expected outcome clear.

Delegation and automation are two other ways to stay on course when unexpected surprises come up. It can be hard to trust and rely on someone other than yourself, which is how lots of event managers end up with too much or tedious work. Look for tools and systems that help you easily delegate work (whether to internal teammates or external event staff or vendors) and automate your workflow. You shouldn’t have to waste time manually copying information from one place to the other or using advanced sticky note systems.

Pull off your event without a hitch

Going into your big day with confidence is much easier when you know that you’ve double-checked everything, and your team knows exactly what needs to happen and when. It helps tremendously to create a day-of timeline and checklist to capture all the final details.

By this point, you’ve already tackled your large-scale event plan, but having a play-by-play plan for the day of the event can be just as critical to ensure everything is in the right place at the right time. Having a clear, time-bound deadline and specific individual for each item on the list is the best way to make sure no ball gets dropped.

For marketers not in the spotlight at their own events, they’re most likely running around behind the scenes. This is where work management tools come in handy because they are accessible on your phone and keep you from digging through your email to find that emergency slide deck. They can keep you connected to the rest of your team that might not be at the event, too.

Set up your next event for success

Whether it’s your first event or your hundredth, every event is an opportunity to learn and refine your process. Reflecting on your event with your team is critical, but the best teams also have a plan to turn those ideas into action for the next event.

Starting from scratch every time you do an event and relying on others who know the process by heart likely means you’ll forget something. Plus that makes it harder to update the process over time. Instead, create a template for your events with all the steps, context, and timing clearly mapped out. After each event, you can then go back and refine your template based on what what went well and what could be improved for next time.

A great event connects your brand, the great teams behind it, and the people that can benefit from it in a unique, powerful way. But keeping track of all the details that lead up to that magic moment isn’t possible without the right mix of planning, tools, and teamwork. The more polished your plan, the more impactful the event.

8 min read

Ready for takeoff: Managing product launches

It takes a lot of work to get your products in front of your target customers, and even more effort to get them to try or buy it. Because product launches involve so much cross-functional collaboration, whether it’s a small feature update or an entirely new product line, it can be a struggle to keep everyone on the same page as dates, timelines, and decisions change with each new day.

This is especially true when the launch process isn’t standardized and you’re starting from scratch every time. Talk about a headache. But it doesn’t have to be this way. By implementing a few key practices, you can make your launch process smoother, more effective, and pain free.

Create a central place to track the launch

To successfully bring a product to market, you need a single source of truth that’s accessible and used by everyone—marketing, product, design, engineering, sales, and customer support—so everyone knows the scope and status of the launch. This will also save you from answering the same questions over and over or manually updating numerous places with the same information.

Include responsibilities, deadlines, the launch plan, messaging doc, and any supporting assets so it’s clear who’s working on what, the right people can weigh in, and everyone’s on the same page.

While work for the launch is happening in other tools—docs, slides, design software, etc.—make sure it’s all linked or attached to the central place where you’re managing the launch. This way, team members can find the information they need and are working off the same versions of launch files. And because everyone is aligned on messaging and content across teams, you can feel confident that your customers will have a consistent experience across launch touchpoints.

Set up a communication process up front

Good communication is the unsung hero of a successful launch. But it’s so much easier said than done. Here are some ways to make sure you’re communicating effectively throughout the launch planning and execution process:

“Before Asana, we were averaging about 3 launches a year. Now, we’re launching something every month. Asana is helping us launch 4x faster.” — Lauren Nguyen, Head of Product Marketing at Pantheon

Speed up approvals by providing more context

When the approval process spirals out of control, it’s usually because approvers don’t have all the context on why certain decisions were made. This lack of context can significantly delay approvals and potentially derail your entire launch. However, it’s possible to make the approval process smoother, more effective, and ultimately faster.

It all begins with outlining the approval process before you start. Identify the steps in your plan that will require approval and allocate time for them (getting sign off on the launch plan, messaging and positioning, or the announcement email).

Next, identify who needs to approve what so you’re not going in circles forever. Once you get going, it’s important to ask for feedback along the way so you have time to change directions if needed. Finally, keep the approval process connected to your work so everyone has the context they need to provide actionable feedback.

Learn from and report on results

Once your product is in the market, the hard work is over, but you haven’t crossed the finish line just yet. It’s important to share the results (wins, learnings, and opportunities) of the launch with your team. This step is often forgotten or skipped because of a lack of time, but it helps teammates understand the impact of their work.

If part (or all) of the launch missed the mark, a thorough recap provides important context and an analysis of the “why” behind the shortcomings. These key learnings, whether wins or opportunities, should be used to improve your next launch.

Turn your successful launch process into a template

There’s work you have to do no matter what the product is. You can waste precious time trying to remember every step, or you can standardize your launch process. With a template to start with, you’ll have more time to develop unique elements and assets specific to the launch because you’re not trying to remember every little thing your team needs to do. Plus, product managers and teammates will know what to expect and feel confident that work won’t slip through the cracks—no matter who is leading the launch.

How to create a product launch template:

Plan, execute, launch, learn, repeat

Launching products can feel like a never-ending cycle. Once you’re done with one, it’s on to the next. By standardizing your process and keeping all work and communication centralized, you’ll be able to launch products more effectively—and with less effort.

4 min read

On the agenda: Running better meetings

If you’ve ever walked into a meeting with hopes of moving a marketing campaign forward or deciding on a direction for your next event and walked out feeling like none of that happened, you’re not alone. Bad meetings happen to the best of us, and, unfortunately, they can happen often. But how can we avoid it? How can marketers have better, more productive meetings?

It’s simple: better planning. Whether it’s a brainstorm, quick sync, or 1-1 between a manager and report, create clear goals, agendas, and align all attendees beforehand. Below are some ideas for running more productive meetings with your marketing team.

Set your goals and agenda

To make the most of your time, set a clear goal and agenda listing what topics you will cover and for how long. Keep it visible during the meeting to make sure you’re staying on track.

Depending on the meeting, you could make the agenda collaborative so attendees can add topics or questions they want to discuss—the meeting should be time well spent for everyone (not just the presenter).

Let’s say your team is planning a customer event. For an initial brainstorm about the event, ask meeting attendees to add their ideas to a shared agenda beforehand. For successive check-ins leading up to the event, add questions you want to discuss as a group as they come up throughout the week.

There’s no one “right” way to organize a meeting agenda, but to get you started, it’s a good idea to structure your meeting agendas around a few key areas:

Share the agenda with attendees beforehand

Have you ever gotten a vaguely titled, description-less invite for a meeting and wondered, “What is this and why should I go?” Not only does this lack of context make you feel less engaged, but it causes you to spend the first part of the meeting simply clarifying what it’s about.

Don’t be that person. Instead, help your attendees prepare for—and care about—your meeting by sharing your agenda and goals beforehand. Include a quick description and/or link to your agenda in your calendar invite. Even something as simple as, “This meeting is to go over our event budget and make a final decision on a venue” can help attendees enormously.

If others need to prepare anything—an overview of your social media metrics from your data analyst, mocks of event invitations from design, inspiration for your next ebook—request that well beforehand so they’re prepared to talk about the right information. That way, they won’t be caught off guard and can lead a much more productive discussion about their agenda item.

“Now that I’m using Asana, my conversations and 1:1s are so much more productive because we have this shared space where we can collaborate.” — Tim Wood, Head of Product at Patreon

Lastly, make sure to attach any resources to your agenda and make them easily accessible to everyone (including you). Fumbling to find a doc or discussing something nobody cares about aren’t the most productive way to spend your time.

Create action items as you talk about them

How many times have you heard, “I’ll follow up after the meeting,” and then it disappears into the ether? Everybody should leave the meeting feeling unblocked and clear on what to do next.

Even if you take notes in your meeting, that doesn’t hold anyone accountable to actually follow up on ideas or actions. They’re often forgotten entirely or become unclear by the time they’re revisited. Instead, assign these responsibilities out and leave time at the end of the meeting to review them and track who will commit to doing what by when.

Did Stephen just agree to follow up with the vendor? Did Amy volunteer to write some social media copy? Create tasks for them right then and there so these verbal agreements become action items on their daily to-do lists.

1-1 meeting? Use it as a chance for mentorship

1-1 meetings differ in nature from most other department or company meetings. Instead of focusing on a specific project or program, they give marketing leads the chance to connect with individual members of their team to discuss work in progress, stay aligned on priorities, and address issues before they turn into bigger problems. It’s also an opportunity for managers to mentor and build deeper relationships with their reports.

But don’t let this focus on mentorship lead you to believe you can just wing it. To get the most out of your 1-1 meetings, you should still structure it like you would any larger meeting. Create a shared agenda—to avoid surprises or having either party unprepared to discuss a topic—set goals, and record action items as they come up.

Some sections to include on your 1-1 agenda:

Having regular 1-1 meetings—whether weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly—is an important part of being an effective marketing leader. By creating a shared space for organizing your agenda, you’re more likely to stay focused and keep all of your marketing activities on track. Plus, the beauty of this simple 1-1 agenda structure is that you can reuse it to plan all the 1-1 meetings on your calendar.

Keep up the good habits

When planned poorly, meetings can cost productivity and team cohesion. However, if you’re proactive about your planning, agenda, and follow up, meetings can boost productivity and energize teammates to take a similar approach with their own work now that they’re unblocked and reconnected.

From strategies to success

To get from marketing strategies to marketing success, it’s no longer enough to focus solely on creating and distributing content to your audiences. There are far too many moving pieces and complex steps to leave your processes to memory or chance. The difference between a marketing team that struggles to execute effectively and one that consistently hits the mark is a clear and organized approach to planning, managing, and tracking every marketing activity—from campaigns and content to events and product launches—all in one place.

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