“I’ll need that article in my inbox before you leave for the day.”
"Are we still on track for getting those photos captioned and queued for the morning?”
“Hey—you were supposed to have submitted that blog two hours ago. Where is it? What’s the delay?”
Deadlines rule our lives. From a young age, we are given deadlines for everything: From how we should be developing to when our coloring assignment is due to when we have to pay our bills or risk the lights going out. Yes, deadlines help keep us in check. It gives us some type of order, lest we all go about on our own whims and do whatever we want (bills would never get paid).
But when it comes to marketing, do deadlines actually do more harm than good? And when we commit to a deadline, to what are we actually committing?
In one sense, deadlines are good for marketing. As creative, we could go on forever with one project, brainstorming idea after idea, trying to come up with one that is more exciting, more engaging than the next. But we are inevitably stopped by the deadline. We need to get an idea out onto paper, mocked up, designed, written—whatever it may be, by that date.
Deadlines help restrain our creativity. It prevents us from exploring too many ideas and extending them out to see if they work. But at other times, it can leave us grasping at our hair, trying to come up with something—anything—to present to the client at the promised date of delivery.
And in cases like those, does our strict adherence to the deadline mean that we doing a disservice to our clients?
When we tell clients that we’ll get them their deliverable (whatever it is) at a certain time, what are we really promising them? We don’t make promises on what this deliverable will do for their company—whether it will sell more of their products or increase brand awareness.
All we do is promise to deliver them something on that date.
Sometimes, we have a tight deadline. There’s a launch that is going to happen. A new business merger is going to take place. Whatever the situation may be, there are some times that we are unable to avoid deadlines. So we work late hours, have brainstorming sessions for lunch, and seek inspiration from every crack and crevice of everything we see.
But those other times, when we have a bit more time? That’s when we need to strike up a conversation.
Clients will come to you because they trust in the work that you do, and they trust that you’ll get it done on time. Hell, it’s even a contractual obligation for you to do so. But most clients, if you see that there is some wiggle room in terms of time, will be thankful—not upset—if you ask them for more time because you don’t want to give them okay; you want to give them exceptional.
And what business would say no to that?
Sure, there’s still a deadline aspect, but you’re allowing yourself more time to see what you could do with that extra day or extra week versus having to give them what you have without that additional time. You never know what spark of creativity will hit you in the next day that hadn’t come the day before.
For the good of the deliverable, but mainly for the good of the client, you need to use your best judgment and determine if there can be a conversation about extending a deadline. Present your case as to why: What you have is good, but you know that with more time, it can be even better. And when you’re going into this conversation, have a deadline extension in mind. Let them know what you believe you need, and see if they’re okay with that extension. If not, discuss meeting in the middle somehow. And if they say no, well, at least you tried.
As a society (think: globally), deadlines help keep things organized for us. It will be a rare occurrence, if ever, for a client to solicit you for a job and say, “Just get it to us whenever it’s done and great.” If anything, that’s even more frightening than a quick turnaround demand!
Deadlines are both good and bad, for every reason aforementioned. But there are ways that you can avoid having deadlines infringe on your creativity and ability to deliver the absolute best to each and every one of your clients. It includes some organization and self-discipline.
Try incorporating these practices into your own marketing firm or with your team and see what difference they make.
We’re not saying that by incorporating these four practices into your workflow means that you will never have to ask for a deadline extension ever again (we wouldn’t mislead you). But we do promise that you will be better able to manage the deadlines you are given.
Deadlines are fine when they are realistic. And unfortunately, many of the deadlines we place on ourselves are not. We want to please our clients, of course, but at what cost? At what cost to ourselves, to the quality of our work, to the final deliverable that we submit to them?
We manage deadlines; deadlines shouldn’t manage us or dictate the quality of the work that we put out into the world. At times it can be a struggle. They’re always going to be part of business, but the more we learn about to better manage them, ourselves, and our creative minds, the better it is for all parties involved.
Learn more about Content Marketing, Content Intelligence, Content Marketing Artificial Intelligence on our blog.
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