We all know how it is. The clock is ticking, your work is piling up, that strict timeline is looming over your head and it’s seeming more and more unlikely that you will meet the deadlines and reach your daily goals.
If you work at an ad agency, meeting deadlines is something you will have to do on a daily basis. Clients want things done and they want them done in a timely manner. Because there are so many people involved and so many moving parts in this industry, you must not only keep yourself motivated and on time, you must keep your staff motivated and on time.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make sure to reach your goals.
Helpful tips on How You Can Meet Deadlines at Your Ad Agency
1. Make a Timeline for Creative
No matter what the project may be, as soon as an assignment falls on your desk, you should make a timeline providing realistic goals for when things need to be completed in order to meet the deadlines involved.
Although an advertising pitch is usually the first part of an advertiser’s job, once it is accepted is when the real work begins.
The first deadline set will be for creative. This department will be responsible for bringing in ideas for the creative director and team to explore. During this process, bad ideas are cut and ones that might work are left on the table to be developed further as the project moves on.
Dealing with a deadline in creative can be stressful because you may suffer from ‘writer’s block’ or a lack of inspiration making it difficult to come up with ideas that are clever. This can be even more challenging when working within a deadline.
Although there is no proven way to deal with the challenges of writer’s block, there are a number of ways to get those creative juices flowing. Moving around, listening to music, free writing and eliminating distractions are just some solutions you might consider. These options will help you get winning ideas on the creative director’s desk in a timely fashion.
2. Making a Deadline for Production
Often the ideas that are proposed by creative will involve some element of production, whether it be for printed pieces or a shoot. At this point, the production department will be brought in. It is their job to come up with estimates and their own timeline for completing the shoot.
Depending on the extent of the project, production can be met with its own number of moving parts including casting, filming, print, graphics and more. Setting a timeline and having a process for when each project needs to be done and communicating with each department to make sure everyone’s meeting their individual timelines will help production to meet goals in a timely fashion.
3. Working with Your Client
Once the final ads are completed, they will be presented to the client for approval. If the client likes what he or she sees, a timeline will be set for the ads to be published. Once this is done, feedback is given on the kind of results the ads are getting. Depending on the feedback, the ads may continue running or be tweaked for maximum effectiveness.
During this stage, the client will have a timeline in mind as far as when they want the ads to run and how long they need them to run for. It is up to the ad agency to meet these deadlines. Once again, communication will be key as every department should be communicating to make sure everyone is meeting deadlines and their individual goals in order to keep the client happy.
A General Guide to Meeting Deadlines in Your Place of Work
Of course, not everyone works at an ad agency, but plenty of us work in offices where meeting deadlines is a priority. Keeping that in mind, here are some tips on how to meet deadlines that will apply whether you are working at an agency or any other type of company.
1. Make Deadlines a Priority
A deadline is a deadline, but you would be surprised at how many people just don’t take these deadlines seriously! However, those that care about deadlines, and make it a priority to meet them, will stand out as exceptional workers and will, hopefully, be rewarded accordingly.
If you work by yourself, be sure to take client deadlines seriously. If you work with others, try to make them aware of how important it is that they meet deadlines as well. Remind them that a missed deadline could bring the whole team down and result in lost business.
2. Keep Track of Projects and Deadlines
Even those of us who are super responsible and care deeply about meeting deadlines can find themselves caught up in other business or just the drama of everyday life, causing them to lose sight of a project that may be due. To keep this from happening, keep a calendar of the projects you are working on and a timeline of when they are expected to be delivered.
Be sure to consult this calendar every day. Doing this at the same time each day will make this part of your routine making you less likely to forget to check for projects that may be due. Checking your calendar first thing in the morning will be ideal as this will help you stay on track throughout your day.
Note: The act of adding a task to your calendar by typing it or writing it down will also help to enforce it in your mind making you less likely to forget about it.
3. Communicate with Your Co-workers
It really can’t be stressed enough: communication is key! Make sure everyone in your office is aware of the deadlines of your project. Then, follow up on a regular basis to make sure everyone is working to meet their deadlines.
If you’re using Slack, you can establish apps such as Standuply for daily standups.
Remember, one weak link can cause the whole ship to go down. This is why you must make sure everyone is doing their part to meet timelines that will help your project get completed on time.
4. Create a Cushion
Creating a cushion involves setting smaller goals to help you complete your project on time. In the instance of an ad agency, a cushion may start with talking to creative about the project and setting a timeline for them to present ideas. The next step might be taking it to production and setting production goals and so on. You can the SMART goals approach to set your goals:
When creating cushions, be sure you give yourself a reasonable amount of time to get every task done and, most importantly, make sure the entirety of the project is completed by its due date. Set goals that account for as much or as little work as you feel confident doing in the allotted amount of time to get your project completed.
Taking smaller steps may be less intimidating for some. You can even break your project into goals that can be completed in an hour or less. Find out what works best for you.
Once you have created your cushion, focus on each step as they come. This will help you to complete every task efficiently and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed by the project.
When doing a project, you must prioritize your tasks within the project and also make sure you can handle other things that may arise.
For instance, if you are working on an ad for a client, the most important thing is to get the work to the client when he or she is expecting it. During the creative process, you may think of other touches and embellishments that may enhance the final product, which is great…but only if it doesn’t interfere with your ability to meet the deadlines of the project.
While working, other tasks may arise that need your attention that may have nothing to do with your project. Let’s say, for example, you are working on a particular task you may have set aside an hour for, and suddenly the receptionist walks in to tell you that you have a client call on line one.
When things like this happen, assess the situation to see which to prioritize, the phone call or your work on the project. Can the call be put off until later in the day when you have more time to deal with it? Is the client matter an emergency? Prioritize according to which task is most deserving of your attention.
If you do end up having to interrupt your work, be sure to reschedule uncompleted tasks so you don’t end up forgetting about them.
You can use this 4-quadrant-approach to prioritize your tasks:
6. Make Sure You and Your Client Are on the Same Page
No matter how stressed out you may feel about meeting deadlines in the workplace, you must take the time to sit down with your client to make sure you are on the same page as far as the outcome of the project. Know exactly what the client is looking for and what they are expecting in terms of the type of product they want and the image they would like to convey to consumers.
If your client is not happy due to a miscommunication that occurs early in the planning stages, it’s likely your company will be responsible for correcting the mistake to please the client. This can result in wasted time, money and resources and, of course, an unhappy client is not good for business.
Be sure that, not only are you aware of what the client is expecting, but that your whole team is aware as well. These efforts will show through in a quality piece of work that represents your client’s brand, every step of the way.
Expert Tip from Susan Boles, Founder of ScaleSpark
The best way to exceed client expectations is to clearly SET the expectations up front. Clearly communicate what the clients can expect from you, when they should expect to receive deliverables, and the steps or to-do’s they’ll need to accomplish along the way as well. You can’t over-communicate when it comes to clients, so continuously communicating where your project is, what you’ve accomplished and what’s still to come is crucial to managing your entire client experience.
7. Don’t Overcommit
While many workaholics like to take on a hefty load, this can be detrimental in the long run. If your workload gets to a point where you are too busy to meet deadlines, this can be a bad reflection on yourself and your agency. If you don’t think you can complete projects and have them to your clients when they need them, you are best off turning down the work, no matter how painful it may be!
8. What If I Have Trouble Meeting a Deadline?
No matter how diligent we may be, there is always a possibility that we may not meet a deadline. If you have a project due tomorrow, and just can’t squeeze everything into your 8 hour work day, you may have to work into the wee hours of the morning to get things done. Though unpleasant, this is likely to be a preferred alternative to having to tell your client that you are unable to deliver on time.
However, if a deadline is coming close and you know there is just no way you’re going to be able to make it, you are best off calling your client and explaining the situation to him or her. Then try to negotiate another deadline.
(Image Source: Giphy)
If your client agrees, be sure the second deadline is one you will be able to make. Missing the second deadline could cause you to lose your client and be detrimental to your reputation.
9. Learn from Past Mistakes
Although missing a deadline is something we want to avoid at all costs, it does happen sometimes. If this happens to you, rather than beat yourself up about it, take it as a learning experience. Think of where you went wrong and avoid making the same mistake in the future.
Meeting deadlines may come easy to some and harder to others. However, if meeting a deadline is often part of your work routine, figure out how to get organized so that you will stay within your timeline and have completed projects on your client’s desks when they need them. Hopefully, this article has provided you with useful information on how to meet deadlines in the workplace. And feel free to chime in by letting us know, how did you handle meeting a tight deadline?
Max is a SaaS enthusiast and loves actionable content that provides direct value.