According to a recent report by Workfront on average only 36% of marketers time is spent on productive work. The report which is based on a survey of 207 marketers identifies a growing problem for marketers. The duties of the marketing team have swollen significantly over recent years responding to the proliferation in channels and shifts in buyer behavior. However as the remit of marketing has evolved, the management of marketing activities remain largely unchanged and frustratingly manual.

Productivity Killers

When asked to identify what gets in the way of their productivity the greatest distractions came from wasteful meetings (64%) and excessive emails (61%).


The startling reality from these figures is quite how many of these productivity drains come from within the organisation. Wasteful meetings, manual sign off processes and lack of standardisation are self-imposed internal problems, problems which could be addressed inside the business.

Marketing vs is Operations

When we hear words like ‘operations’, ‘workflow’ and ‘efficiency’ we think about different parts of the business to our own. We conjure up images of production lines, suppliers and front line staff. We don’t instinctively think of our own inbox or marketing sign off procedures. However the truth is to wrestle some of our value-adding time back into the marketing team marketers must first think differently about how we operationalise more routine work.

Thinking Lean

So what can marketing people learn from operations people? An undoubted darling of operations theory is ‘lean’. Popularised by Toyota in post war Japan lean is concerned with the elimination of waste from a process. One way lean practitioners determine which processes should be improved is to plot their frequency and variance to highlight opportunities for standardisation or automation. Now consider your own marketing activities. How much of your marketing work happens frequently and is relatively similar? What percentage of your time is spent sending the latest versions of brand assets or signing off spend and talking with suppliers about routine artwork changes?


Source: Brand Unify adapted from Cranfield University

The data shows us there are lots of these marketing tasks we do every day. And what is worse is as the business scales this problem scales with it. Spending just a week or 2 recording marketing activities with a time-sheet can be a great way to capture data about how marketing time is being spent.

Systemising Routine Work

If we want to recapture some of this 64% of lost marketing productivity we have to change the way we do things. Often quick wins can be achieved by implementing simple improvements to the way we work internally. Only checking email twice a day, scheduling ‘available for contact’ times and establishing a meeting etiquette are just a few examples.


Source: Brand Unify adapted from Cranfield University

To get beyond incremental improvements though we have to approach these tasks with a new perspective. Consider your organisation is 10 times larger than it is today and you had the same marketing resource you have now. How would you redesign the way you deliver routine marketing activities then? Could you afford the time to email the latest PowerPoint slides to anyone that asks? Could you help each regional fundraising team develop a local campaign? This is where technology can help break the link between time and productivity.

There has been an explosion in marketing software over the past decade and the allure of slick presentations of clever technology can be hard to resist. However the marketer who is equipped with data about their marketing operations can make far more intelligent decisions. They can decide which systems will actually improve productivity rather than deplete it based on genuine data and begin to take control of their day.


About Brand Unify

Brand Unify provide marketing portals that dramatically improve the way distributors, sales people or regional fundraising teams execute local marketing. Brand Unify technology is proven to reduce design and print costs, launch campaigns faster and secure brand consistency.


The Workfront study can be found here