Finishing What You Started: Sidetracked Marketing Projects

Quick Tips

Don't give up; keep your goals in mind and see it through!

Get the project moving by setting a deadline.

Get organized; figure out what's been done and what's left to do.

Put someone in charge of gathering info and keeping the project on schedule.

Revise the project if you can't find the information you need.

So you had big plans…a new brochure, new marketing piece, mass mailing, maybe a new web site. You were excited about the project and got off to a great start!

Then the going got tough. Work started piling up and your marketing project went to the back burner. Maybe you lost the initial momentum and let it slide since it wasn’t a big priority. Maybe you went as far as you could with the information you had, then got stuck.

You’re not alone. It happens all the time. People start out with a grand vision, then become frustrated when they don’t have enough time or information to complete their projects.

But there’s hope! Here are some ideas to help you get those sidetracked projects rolling again.

Give Yourself a Deadline

One of the main reasons marketing projects are pushed aside is that they aren’t needed by a specific date. When there’s no sense of urgency, everything else seems more important. You can change this by creating a deadline. Plan an open house; sign up for a booth at a show or meeting; mail out a postcard to promote your soon-to-be completed web site. Once people are expecting something from you by a certain date, the project suddenly becomes a priority.

Put Someone Else in Charge

In small businesses or organizations, marketing projects are often instigated by the principals, owners or other head-honcho folks. Trouble is, these same people are usually up to their eyeballs with clients or customers, meetings and other urgent business.

If possible, assign someone else to be in charge of keeping the marketing project on track, regardless of who’s actually doing the design or writing. This person can help organize facts, coordinate the work, expedite the review/editing process and stay on top of deadlines, nagging people (often an important factor!) if necessary.

Get Organized

Once you have a deadline and someone in charge, the next step is to develop a logical plan for completing the project. Figure out why the project got sidetracked, then invent a way to keep it from happening again.

Examine What You Have

The hardest part is getting started again. Plan a kickoff meeting (even if it’s only with yourself) to go through your materials and determine what progress was made before the project headed south. Chances are you will be further ahead than you thought you were.


Take a look at the project to see if anything can be simplified or deleted (without sacrificing quality) to save time and/or research. In some cases, the initial project goals were overly optimistic, and you simply may not have the information needed to fill in the blanks.

Determine What You Still Need

Dig through file cabinets and hard drives, gathering any information that might help you (or someone else) complete the project: price sheets, project/client lists, old brochures, photos, ads, testimonials, etc. You may find that you already have most of the information you need, even if it’s in fifty different places.

Fill in the Blanks

Once you know what info you still need, make a “To Do” list of the specific tasks required to complete the project. Include tasks that have already been completed, then check them off so you can see your progress. It sounds silly, but it’ll make you feel like you’ve accomplished something.

Make a list of facts, photos or other missing info needed to complete the project, along with a note about who will find the item (and where). Yes, lists are tedious, but the information-gathering task is much less overwhelming when you see it step-by-step in black and white.

Seek Professional Help

No, I don’t think you’ll need that kind of “professional help” to complete your marketing project. There may be good reasons, however, to consider help from a marketing professional. If you’ve gathered all your information and you find that you still don’t have time to get the project done, or if you’re unsure of your design or writing skills, consider hiring someone to help you. You might find it’s worth the expense to free up your time for other business and to preserve your sanity.

Keep in mind, though, that even if a consultant is doing your work, he or she will still need the raw information that only you can provide, so get your data organized before enlisting help from outside sources.