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6 Biggest Takeaways to Apply to Any Future Project

As summer interns, every day at Sagepath has been a building block on the last. A couple of weeks ago, our day was especially memorable when we were asked to research and develop fresh marketing ideas for one of Sagepath’s major clients. Not only was the topic broad, but we were also only given two weeks to complete it. Then, we were asked to present it to Sagepath’s entire internal marketing team, plus a few more. We were both excited and a little nervous, but ready to tackle the project together. We learned a lot along the way about the client, their industry, and how to tackle a huge task with a short timeline. Here are our six biggest takeaways to apply to any future project.

1. Start with a fresh perspective

During the first few days of our assignment, we didn’t want to rule out any ideas. The early stage is a great time to ideate and consider any and all thoughts, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. We learned that when starting a new project, it is easy to resort to concepts and perspectives that worked well in the past. Experience is extremely valuable and not to be overlooked, but at the very start of the project, we temporarily put it to the side to avoid limiting our creativity.

2. Establish a timeline

With little historical knowledge of the client, we were tasked with coming up with directions and fresh ideas to implement in the new year. This was a challenge because we saw there were many areas that needed improvement, but we only had two weeks to research and come up with a plan. It was beneficial to prioritize and divide up the research process and have regularly scheduled follow-ups to ensure we were staying on track.

3. Discover and tap into your teammates’ strengths

It is important to determine where each individual can provide the most value to the project. For example, Andy excelled at the analytical side of the assignment. The data and resources he found provided numerical evidence identifying our client’s areas of weakness and opportunities, making the research easier to present. On the other hand, Cassondra exceled at looking at the big picture and organizing our ideas into an actionable plan. Recognizing team members’ strengths and weaknesses early and using them to assign tasks allows for a more efficient, successful and productive experience.

4. Unify the project

Organizing your thoughts in a sensible way can be one of the trickiest parts of a project. Despite our heavy preparation, when it came time to create our presentation, it seemed chaotic and unorganized. We took a step back and conducted a classic whiteboard brainstorming session. After laying everything out, we determined which ideas aligned with our goals, then eliminated some ideas, added others, and ended with a thorough presentation outline. When feeling stuck or overwhelmed, we learned to go back and re-establish the connection between all of our project’s moving parts.

5. Utilize your resources

For the past six weeks, we have been learning different tools and skills to help with a project of this scale and now it was time to utilize each of them. We read reviews online and met with customers, store managers, and store employees with a focus on communicating the data we gathered around our client’s brand and audience. In addition, we found it beneficial to learn as much as we could from the team in charge of the account and understand their vision for the next year. Many times during the project we had a good idea but knew we didn't have data to back it up. With such time constraints, it was imperative to keep our research and ideas connected. This meant we had to go back several times after the research phase and find evidence to support our direction. If we didn’t have the research behind it, there was little reason to suggest that idea. Thankfully, our work leading up to this project made it possible to access those resources and find the data.

6. Identify important data and how to communicate it effectively

We gathered so much information and research that it proved difficult to consolidate into a clear and focused presentation. So, we revised and structured our presentation in a way that reflected our methodology, which is to start with the research and let the next steps be supported by the information we found. This helped our audience see the bigger picture and made our ideas the logical next steps. We also found it beneficial to incorporate the takeaways throughout the presentation and not just at the end. These takeaways provided an easy summary of each section and showed we were staying in line with our objectives. The content combined with the organization of our presentation showed that we had come up with useful ideas for our client and that we did our research.

This project, though daunting at first, has been crucial for our development here at Sagepath. It allowed us to utilize the tools and knowledge we are gaining with real-world applications while gaining a better understanding of the digital marketing department’s role. Each of these takeaways made it possible for us to navigate this task and present a strong deliverable with little direction, time, or knowledge of the client.