How to make time for marketing
As business owners we have so many hats to wear. On top of doing what we love, we juggle the Finance, IT, Sales, Customer Service and Marketing. Throw family life into the mix or the random jobs like fixing the dishwasher and it’s no wonder business owners struggle to find time for their marketing.
This article addresses some of the common cries I hear about marketing from business owners, and I share some practical tips to help you make time for this vital tool in your business.
“I’m too busy looking after my clients to go out and find new ones”
Clients move on – you meet their needs, their needs change, they change job or move house. It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, no one stays a client or customer for ever. So, you need to keep on top of your marketing to maintain awareness and keep the enquiries coming in.
To help make your marketing more effective, use the time you have with your clients and customers to find out why they buy from you. You’ll be surprised at what comes out and you’ll get some great testimonials you can use in the future.
Also, ask yourself if you’re working with the right kind of customer for you. Are you busy looking after unprofitable clients, or doing work you don’t really enjoy? If the answer is yes, then marketing aimed at attracting the right customer will shift the balance. By adapting your marketing messages, you can influence the type of enquiries you get in.
“My head is too full to think about marketing – I’ve got too much going on already”
Marketing is one of the most challenging aspects of running a business and it’s hard to think about it when you are deep into the ‘doing’.
Take time to step outside of your business regularly to look at the bigger picture. I guarantee you’ll have loads of great ideas in your head for attracting customers or making your service more attractive to your clients. The problem is, it’s all buried in the nitty gritty of day to day life.
Go for a walk, a run or just sit quietly somewhere different, away from your desk, to mull over your current marketing challenge. You’ll free up space in your head and those ideas will surface. Try it – I promise you it works!
“Marketing isn’t work – it’s what I do when I’ve finished work”
A client said this to me recently and I know it’s a common belief. How many of you do your marketing at weekends or in the evenings, because you see it as something ‘extra’ and not part of your business.
The things is, giving attention to your marketing is just as vital for running a successful business as delivering to your clients. Marketing is used to reassure existing clients they’ve made the right decision coming to you, and to encourage referrals. And you need to keep those enquiries coming in.
As a small business owner, consistent marketing is even more important. When you don’t have the budget to make a huge impact, you rely on frequent and persistent messaging. That takes a bit of effort – but with some structure and planning it’s not too hard to make the time for it.
So how do I make the time for all this?
The single most important thing to do is allocate time in your calendar for your marketing. Whether you’re planning how to promote an event next year, or writing social media posts for this week, none of it will happen if you don’t schedule time and protect that time in your calendar.
"That’s all well and good but where do I start?"
To make time for marketing in your calendar, you need a plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you do need to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.
With a plan in place, you can carve out time for quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily tasks in your calendar. And all at once this marketing thing becomes a whole lot more manageable.
So, your marketing planning and implementation time might look something like this:
Once a quarter: Create a plan (2 – 4 hours)
Take yourself out of your business for a few hours to do this, away from your phone, email and client demands. You might crack it in a couple of hours or you might need half a day, but it will help you enormously to make this time and use it to create a plan.
Look at what’s happening in your customers’ world for the next 3 months. Are your customers working parents doing the school holiday juggle? If you’re a garden designer how much time will your customers spend in their garden? If you’re an accountant, where are we in the tax year?
Now look at everything that’s happening in your business over the next 3 months. What do you want to achieve? Do you have an event coming up? Are you launching a new service? Do you have some special offers for your loyal customers?
Once you know what’s happening in your customers’ world and in your world, you can start to think about what you’ll say to them, when and how.
Plot out the high-level messages you want to share and the channels you’ll use. Think about which social media platforms you’ll use. Will you write a blog? Arrange some local media coverage? (This isn’t about writing out every single Tweet or Insta post for the next 3 months, it’s just to capture your high-level messaging to make the job of planning the detail easier when the time comes).
Give yourself some targets. How many people do you want at your event? How many enquiries will you generate for your new service? Having targets to aim for makes it all so much more exciting!
I’m an analogue girl so I do this bit on a big piece of paper and write everything down but if you prefer a digital planner, there are lots of tools out there for planning online such as Evernote.
Now you have a quarterly plan, you know what to do each month to keep your marketing on track. It’s far easier than suddenly realising you’ve got an event in two weeks’ time and you don’t have a plan to promote it, welcome bookers or follow up attendees afterwards!
Once a month: Review & add detail (1-2 hours)
Once a month check in with your quarterly plan and do three things:
Make sure nothing has changed overall – are your objectives still the same? If not, what needs to change in your marketing plan?
Review how you’re doing against your targets – celebrate your success or examine why you’re not reaching them and make some changes.
Add more detail to the plan for the next month – break the month down into 4 weeks and add the messages under your headlines for that month. Review the channels you’ll be using and add them into each week. If you’re building up to an event for example, you’ll want to send emails to people who’ve signed up and schedule social media activity to promote the event if it’s not full yet.
Once a week: Review and last-minute content (1 hour)
Check your results and tweak any plans if necessary
Write and schedule any social media posts for the week that aren’t on your monthly plan (you can do this once a fortnight it you prefer)
Every day (or every other day): 15 minutes social media engagement
Review your social media and respond to comments on your posts. As a small business owner, your clients and prospects are building a relationship with you personally, not with an organisation, so this bit is really important. Do this at a time that works for you – first thing in the morning over coffee or just before you stop for lunch perhaps.
And remember to keep talking to your customers and clients all the time to get those ideas and testimonials for the future.
So that’s it!
All this might feel like a lot to take on but honestly, if you start with a plan you will be able to make it work.
Schedule time in your calendar for marketing and protect it fiercely
And Take Action. If you just think about doing your marketing without acting on it, nothing will ever happen. Give it a try and let me know how you get on in the comments.
If you need an extra push to make time for your marketing, one of my workshops is a good place to start.