Friday, 10 October 2014

The importance of writing to do lists

Happy Friday!
I was feeling a little overwhelmed this morning at the amount of information just rattling around in my head. I've been a project manager now for more than 10 years and I do sort-of know what I'm doing but I now tend to do things on such a grand scale that the sheer amount of stuff I'm dealing with can be kinda scary.
So, I decided to write things down. Having the mood board for the look of The Shop has really helped me focus more on my design plans and made purchasing items easier. Plus I am the kind of person who won't sleep because I worry I've forgotten something.
Therefore, killing two birds with one stone style (which is pretty mean when you think about it), I created a project plan/ mind map / visual to do list/ brain dump!

I just scribbled my thoughts and plans to start with and then colour coded to remind me of the order. When planning a large project - order of how things are done is crucial. Plus, it's really important to focus on the items that might take the longest first and have a timeline alongside the to do list.

It's also a really good way to make sure things don't get missed. Plus, I like a handwritten document that I can look at regularly and it's very quick to write something else on.
For me, it's a way to identify all the large things first - like stock! And then plan around that as to what the smaller steps needed to be achieved before we achieve the bigger goal.

And I colour coded some of the more important decisions to make now, so I can see at a very quick glance what needs to be done yesterday NOW.

Starting a project of this size, I actually find it much easier to work backwards. I imagine a shopper, and think about them - how did they hear about The Shop? What made them walk in? They might want to have a drink, use our toilet, look at our goods, buy something, try something on, bring their kids to play... Once I can see them in my mind then I can work backwards to make sure they can do everything they need to. For example, above I am sketching out someone wanting to try something on. They will need access to changing rooms, the item will need to be priced, they will need a mirror to see the item. From there I can plan how we can create changing rooms - at the moment I think shower curtain rails, wardrobes and curtains can be combined to create something rather wonderful and suitable.

I think the hardest part to get right of any campaign is marketing. Whatever you do, it's never enough and I always get criticised from someone (sadly some-few sometimes!). We are thinking of different ways to reach people, including traditional press releases and radio, some door-to-door work, boards on lamposts and railings and an online advertising campaign. I think part of the hardest bit of advertising too is that it's expensive so you have to choose wisely.

So here is my page in full. It's almost a picture of my thoughts today! Anyway, it did relax me and help me focus on what needs doing now, and I can stop worrying about what needs doing later.
But, of course, we are not just opening The Shop on the weekend of the 6th and 7th December. I'm also project managing the 6th Nelson Art and Vintage Market. This one is easier for me to do, as I've done it five times now, but it's still a huge amount of work. I think people always underestimate how much time it takes to set up large events like these.
So I made a start on doing one for the market too. Mostly to make sure I don't forget anything and have waking-up-at-three-am issues.

I'm thinking of encouraging people to use the hashtag NelsonVintage, as so many stallholders are involved and they are normally pretty good at using social media to spread the word on the market.

Again, I have to make sure there is a good mix and enough traders to fill the market. Each one has different requirements and preferences and I try and accomodate all their needs, plus make sure we don't have stalls with similar goods near each other and that the market feels exciting and vibrant and different as people turn each corner. Plus we need to make sure all our traders know what they can and can't do and what we will give them and expect from them.

I'm very lucky though as I have a fab bunch of traders to work with - we're like one big family now!

And then, I need to make sure that we have shoppers too. How will people hear about the market? How will they know where to go? I plan a full marketing campaign each time and usually tweak what we do from the feedback from the last market. This time I want to have more signage around roads and in Nelson itself in advance of the event. This is always quite a stressful part, as I simply won't know if it's worked until about an hour after opening. If you spot me at the market, you might notice that I always visibly relax around then!

It's crucial to have the right staff doing the right jobs and this is one of those tasks which needs a long lead time. I have to make sure all the staff know their days and times and shifts around now, so that they don't book any non work stuff that weekend.

I tend to start spreading the word about the event on social media and then move on to leaflets, press, boards etc. I have started posting on the Nelson Vintage facebook page already, but I still wrote it on the list to make sure I keep on top of it.
Marketing needs to be a drip feed, bit by bit, not just one big hit. And, it needs to be interesting too. I don't just want to shout the dates at people, but whet their interest for the event.

And, serendipitously, talking of whetting interest, I always plan some activities for during the market. People pay £1 to enter and in return they get to take part in some fun things to do, see more than 40 different makers and artists and get a discount cup of coffee. This years activities are shown above. I think there should be a prize if anyone can work out what they are!
Writing these lists is quite cathartic for me, and reminds me that if I break all the steps down into smaller steps I can get everything done.
You know what else is quite cathartic? Writing this blog!
So a heartfelt...
Thanks for reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment