In the IT world they have a term "Tech Debt". Tech Debt is the mini areas of clean up to be completed that is a lower priority, an in house item, administrative in nature, or simple bug fixes. Each IT department has it and is a sore subject for many.  Managers do not want to do a low priority item and jeopardize meeting product milestones. Employees just find it boring work that is a waste of time. So the on going argument goes on "when do you do it?"

The same holds true in marketing. There are organizational needs that should be addressed. Client info that should be sifted and gone through. Many personal marketing initiatives that have never been accomplished. And of course updating docs, templates, and files.  And the same question remains: "When do you do it?"

It is never a good time. It is always inconvenient and boring. However, the more you are on top of it, like cleaning your house, the better you will be and faster it will be next time.

Here are a few ways to incorporate Marketing Debt into your routine.

  1. Add to Your Processes: Make your on-boarding procedures include more elements and structure from the beginning. Get all those signatures, hierarchy folders and approvals now. Also, beef up your exit process for when clients or campaigns end while everyone still has it in their short term memory. Adding on to your processes is the easiest because you are already in that flow, document, meeting, etc.
  2. Create 5 Hours a Month: It does not sound like a lot, and it isn't.  But giving each team member a 30 minute exercise (to total 5 total hours a month) will go a long way. Just take one bite out of the elephant. And bonus, you can always tell your boss you have an admin process in the background continuously cleaning up.
  3. Don't Do It: Have a sense of reality.  You may not actually ever go through and rename all the files to the new way of doing things. You may never do a final report on this or that. Have a sense of realism of what is important now and in the future. Get buy in from the team and higher ups.  Then scratch it off the list. The list grows because we want to capture it, not necessarily because it needs to be done.
  4. Hire More: Hiring does not need to be expensive. Hiring can be adding more help internally or could be outsourced work with a consultant as well. A one off or quarterly project for someone else can help alleviate extra hours and also allow an outside perspective to help give more input and feedback.
  5. Manual vs. Automate: Why continue to do manual things? More administrative tasks are there because they are not automated. Before you do it, be sure to research and see what can eliminate this task in the future. This is a great to do during an open lunch as it is free form ideation without deadlines. It can incorporate a lot of cultural and team bonding with something non personal and exploratory.

To be sure, the art of cleaning up after you cook is not the most glamorous position. But it creates an inviting work space and allows more freedom to build on top of what is there.  Encourage the conversation of marketing back log items and solve them in small or creative ways, just make sure you address them.