No matter what sort of marketing you do, one thing is certain. You need to have content. Whether it is a blog post or a graphic image, you must keep track of what you need, what’s in progress, and what’s done. Our favorite method of tracking all of the work is Kanban, so we can model the process steps precisely in order to produce great content.
Kanban for Marketing Plans
We start with a marketing plan example that includes several components such as vision, main goals, strategy, budget, key metrics and so on (marketing plans may vary depending on the nature of the business). In our case, marketing involves lots of writing and coordinating, so we break down the process into manageable tasks.
Our workflow is fairly simple: We start with a list of ideas, select which ones are to be done next, and assign them to a writer. Once the article is written, an editor reviews and revises it and then hands it off to the person responsible for the final production and publication. Translating this process to Kanban is fairly straightforward.
Content Production Process
The Kanban board consists of six columns: “Requested Work”, “Waiting to be Assigned”, “Assigned to Writer”, “Assigned to Editor”, “Final Production”, and “Published”.
Every piece of content we create is visualized with a card. Inside we put any research notes and web links about the desired topic. As the work progresses, additional notes and attachments are added to the card. Every new article idea starts by creating one new card at the bottom of the Requested Work column. We do not bother sorting this list as it tends to stay reasonably short and can easily be scanned.
A couple of times per week, we scan this list and select which articles to produce next and move those cards to the “Waiting to be Assigned” column. Here we sort them by importance, placing time-sensitive topics at the top of the list. Cards do not live here very long since we like to assign them to one of our authors quickly. The main reason they might stay here for any length of time is if the writer is already too busy.
When the work is assigned, notes are added to the card and it is moved to the “Assigned to Writer” column. This column can get quite crowded as the writing can take a long time, and we have many writers. We keep the cards sorted here in the order the work was assigned such that the oldest work is at the top.
Once the writer has finished drafting the article, the document is attached to the card and it is given to an editor for review. The progress is indicated by moving it to the “Assigned to Editor” column. The editor can decide at this time to send it back to the writer if there are significant issues — the card is moved back to the prior column to indicate this.
The Finishing Touch
If all is well with the previous steps, the article is moved along to “Final Production”.
For our process, this means converting the document to HTML and ensuring proper styling is used. Because we have no need to wait to publish articles, we do so immediately, with the corresponding shift of the card to the “Published” column. Once per month, we archive all cards in that column to keep it from getting cluttered.
We use the same principles to manage the MSP marketing goals (managed service provider marketing) for our IT services clients. We start with our simple marketing plan as a guide for tasks and Kanban as the tool for tracking accountability and progress.
Using this technique, we can always see at a glance what the status is of our production process, and easily focus on the steps that are getting backlogged.
Want to learn more? Check the case study – “How to Track your Marketing Campaign with Kanban”
This article was contributed by Vivek Khera, partner of MoreBusiness.com, which provides free sample business plans, marketing plans and other templates for small businesses. He was previously a partner in MailerMailer, an email marketing software company acquired by j2 Global in 2017 and GovCon, a site for government contractors acquired by VerticalNet in 1999. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Duke University.