Are you stressed trying to track all the individual items in your advertising and marketing campaigns? There are so many different projects, ad deadlines, event dates and details, it is so easy for some of them to fall through the cracks. After decades in this business, we’ve seen it happen time and again. Here are our top tips for keeping tabs. And the cool thing? These tips also help save a bunch of time in your busy day!

1: Use a project management system

A project management/tracking system allows you, your team, your clients (whether in-house or out) to list projects and their due dates in one central location.

Seeing due dates in one place is very powerful, helping to make better decisions about time allotment, much less manage the actual due dates themselves.

And it’s critical to list ALL projects, even if you think the time it takes to list them is more than the time it takes to actually do the project. For instance, you have an ad insert for a publication, but you’re just using an existing ad. The designer might just need 10 minutes to resize the ad. Is really worth putting that in the system? YES!

You’ll have a record of the deadline, where that ad was placed, the actual work completed (for reporting to your boss or the client) and it won’t get lost in the dreaded email inbox. And really, it’s these smaller deadlines that tend to be the ones that slip, am I right?

2: Put proofs in your tracking system instead of email

Email is really only (easily) accessible to one person, you. So it creates a big bottleneck if, no WHEN, you are out sick or get called away to a meeting. Your team is left scrabbling when the publisher is calling for the ad that’s passed due while you’re home fighting the flu.

Imagine one easily accessible digital library for all proofs! They can be used by anyone you deem worthy! At any time! Pardon our enthusiasm, but we’ve seen this one change make a huge difference in de-stressing the lives of our new clients. When they get introduced to our tracking system, you can see a huge weight lifted off their shoulders. And it all comes back to getting out of email.

Let’s face it, we spend a lot of time searching through emails for critical information. Imagine if you could put an end to those frustrating searches! That’s a huge timesaver right there!

3: Get buy-in from those who create and those who need to review

Get everyone in on the tracking system (see a theme developing here?). EVERYONE. The more people who are in your system, the easier it is to share information, the workload and the responsibility for meeting those deadlines. If the deadline is made public, so to speak, it will be part of the team’s workload, not just isolated in someone’s email inbox.

But what if it’s just you, the one-person marketing guru for your company? Think there’s no “team”? Chances are, you have more of a team than you realize. Your boss probably wants to review material before it’s made public right? Then you might have a freelancer who helps create those materials. And remember to include other vendors like printers or the video studio.

Those vendors, freelancers and even your cross-departmental co-workers can help you track and meet those deadlines!

3: Set Alerts

Take advantage of alerts/reminders/notifications within whatever app you like to use. Tracking systems, calendar apps, and productivity apps like Evernote, all have really nice options for pushing out whatever information you need in whatever format you’d like. Try setting the alert to notify you at least 24 hours before the ad is due. That will give you time to chase down any approvals, art or whatever else you might need, but doesn’t give you too much time that you’ll forget about it.

4: Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up

Good communication is key to having any project go smoothly and meet the deadlines. Whether it’s a long-term project or a quick graphic needed for social media, checking in with those who create or approve will help you stay on schedule and help you know what’s going on. Poke them inside your tracking system, call them, maybe even email ’em, just stay connected.

5: Gather a team dedicated to meeting deadlines

I can’t tell you how many times a new client comes to us so frustrated with their previous creative team. Sure, they might’ve done great work, but they were always late. No one wants to hound a vendor, and no one should have to. There are so many really good creative professionals out there who also meet deadlines. Period. We see it as our number one priority. Get the work done. So we’ll toot our own horn here…. if you’re having to hound your designers, let me know. We will de-stress your deadlines lickety-split!

Do you have any tips to share for keeping those deadlines in check? Share them in the comments below!

Need some help with selecting and implementing a tracking system? Check out our tips.