Any business owner that feels marketing is an expense and not an investment is probably going to have a difficult time keeping the business profitable. To be successful, you need to develop a mindset that views marketing as an important investment regardless of the state of the economy or other external factors.
Marketing is not something you can turn on and off. Marketing is 24×7 and should be an integral part of your business culture. Excuses like “I’m too busy right now” or “I don’t have the budget or staff” is a recipe for disaster. What happens when your pipeline empties? How will you get your business rolling again?
Like any task that must be performed consistently, you need to figure out a way to make it a habit. We must learn to schedule time to develop your marketing campaigns. If you never put marketing high enough on your list of important tasks, you will never find the time. This article covers ideas that can help you make time for marketing.
Create a repeatable marketing system
As the business owner, you need to set up a marketing system that becomes a regular routine. If you have this system set up and integrated into your normal business day, you won’t consider it an extra activity. Time then becomes less of an issue.
You begin to realize that you have many opportunities to market yourself. That doesn’t mean to “sell” your business every time you interact with someone. It does mean that you can project a professional brand so that prospects and referral sources will want to find out more.
You must commit to make time for marketing. Activities that you could do consistently include:
- Posting on social media
- Writing a blog post
- Sending an email newsletter
- Developing a webinar
- Seeking speaking opportunities
- Writing proposals
Schedule the time and treat it like any other appointment. Without a commitment to your business that marketing is essential, you’ll find yourself consistently putting off your marketing efforts. Doing so could haunt you a month or two from now.
Develop a Marketing Plan that Helps You Focus
Without a plan, most businesses spend time, money and effort on activities that don’t benefit the business. Trying to navigate your way through the web of marketing possibilities is time-consuming and most likely not your core competency. By developing your own, individual marketing plan enables you to make optimal use of the time you have and to avoid tasks that don’t align with your priorities and basically waste time.
A marketing plan guides you though the maze and breaks the effort down into manageable pieces that are more easily accomplished. Marketing is not a monolithic entity that is undertaken as one major project. It is a series of small, integrated activities that help you educate your target audience about how you can help them and continues to build visibility and awareness over a period of time.
Outsource Marketing to Buy Back Time
Have you determined your marketing goals? If you have, align your marketing activities that help you work towards your goals first. If a task does not help you achieve them, determine whether you are better off outsourcing them. Does it make sense to try to design your own brand identity, business cards, or Web site? Or should you take advantage of external skills for those tasks while you prepare for a seminar, speaking opportunity or event? Which tasks are most crucial to you achieving your marketing goals? Create time for marketing by determining where you can effectively delegate and where you need to take control.
Opportunity costs are a topic of every economics class. So why are we so hesitant to spend money to off-load our time so we can take advantage of every opportunity that arises? How much is your time worth?
As a small business owner, it is hard to spend money on something you know you can do. But is that a smart use of your time? Would outsourcing project to a capable resource help you get to your outcome goal faster? The choice is yours.
Transform Marketing into a Way of Life
In order to market yourself 24×7, consider marketing as a way of thinking, acting and getting the word out about you and your business. Redefine marketing as projecting who you are, your strengths and how you can help others solve a problem. For many services businesses, this is exactly what their marketing should communicate.
When you meet someone, introduce yourself in a more interesting way. For example:
- A marketing consultant is someone who “helps businesses get new clients”.
- An interior designer is someone who “transforms houses into dreams”.
- Insurance salesperson is someone who “helps you sleep at night”.
By introducing yourself by the benefit you bring to your clients, you have a better chance of getting the attention of the person you are speaking with long enough for them to remember you. As a business owner, you are marketing your business continuously. Take advantage of every opportunity to be visible and be noticed.
Develop Marketing Communications that Work
Depending on your business, there are many avenues to take to get the word out about who you are and what you do. Your prospective clients must be aware of you and feel you have the expertise they need before they will even entertain hiring you.
To become more visible and credible to your target audience, create a powerful web presence so your audience can find you. Then:
- Write articles for publications read by your market
- Create a lead magnet that helps solve one of their problems
- Research and connect with people on LinkedIn
- Host webinars for industry leaders
Each of these activities will increase your visibility, make personal contacts and help you become the expert in your field.
Be Persistent and Patient
Marketing is a process that never ends and it takes time for marketing activities to bear fruit. Don’t expect instant results from your marketing activities or you’ll get discouraged and give up too quickly. Every activity plants a seed. Every activity reinforces the previous one. Persistence and patience are the keys to successful marketing. If you spend time each week marketing your business, you will find your pipeline is always full.
Think of marketing as something that doesn’t cost money, but helps your business make money. Investing in marketing can help you stay visible, increase sales and help with brand awareness.