project management

Marketing and branding require a lot of planning. There will occasionally be projects where everyone has to turn on a dime, but that can’t become the norm. When rushed, the product gets stiffed almost every time.

We have five tips to help complete your project on time:

1. Determine the End Use
For any project, the first step is to confirm the “end use” delivery date, and to plan backwards from there. What does that mean?

  •  In the case of websites and campaigns, it’s the date you want to launch the site, or blast the campaign.
  •  For print materials, it’s when you want the piece to physically reach your market, whether by hand, mail or shipping.
  •  For presentations and signage, it’s best to have materials delivered to the venue the day before the event, if not earlier.

2. Make a Schedule
Think like a project manager. To arrive at a schedule, we count backwards from the delivery date, moving  backwards through the typical processes, and assigning time frames to each:

  •  Delivery/shipping
  •  Printing or programming
  •  Proofing
  •  Design
  •  Content development
  •  Concept
  •  Research and discovery

Every designer and vendor has their regular turnaround time. For us, designing a logo takes two to three weeks minimum to provide the first concepts. A fully developed website can take 9 weeks to 6 months. Commercial printers’ turnaround can take up to 10 days, depending on format, process and finishing. Add shipping or mailing time, and you can see how far out your delivery may be.

A realistic schedule gives you a better shot at getting it all done. Bonus: A superior product – because no step has been short-shrifted.

3. Prepare
See those last 3 bullets above? We often see clients who are startled to realize they haven’t thoroughly planned their marketing message, or how they want to portray their company.

Just as the cart can’t come before the horse, collateral can’t be designed and produced before the content is developed. When you add those planning hours to design and production hours, you quickly run out of time.

4. Prioritize
Let’s say you realize it’s too late to have the product designed, produced and delivered within the ideal time frame. At this point, you’ll need to determine:
  • Can the delivery date be moved back to allow for the schedule?
  • If all items can’t be done by the delivery date, which items get priority and which get left behind?

5. There’s Always Rush (if absolutely necessary)
Vendors can charge twice their usual fees for delivering sooner than their usual turnaround.

Track your rush fees – you’ll see you’re wasting money. Why not just be a better planner?

Don’t cheat your project, your market, and ultimately, your company’s credibility through lack of foresight. Plan, plan and plan some more.