Marketing when you don’t have time


Are you a small business owner juggling 50 things?

Is one of those 50 things supposed to be marketing?

I’ve been networking quite regularly lately, and I am hearing business owners and sales teams say that they don’t have enough work on. In the same conversation, I am hearing that they don’t have time to do their marketing. So what are they doing with their time? Some say “paperwork", some say "flat-out [doing what?!]" 

Enter the see-saw effect: Do the work, get the work, do the work, get the work. If you don’t get the work, there is no work to do. As small to medium business owners and team members for that matter, we often wear many hats: sales, administration, human resources, finance, production, development, strategic planning and last–and probably least–marketing. Marketing often gets left to last. As a mentor of mine once said “it's important that you put your own mask on first.” Do you remember the safety instructions before taking off in an airplane? “….put your own mask on before helping others". Marketing is the oxygen for our business. If we don’t have enough oxygen – enough business, then how can we help others? 

There are a whole bunch of reasons why a business might not be making enough money: wrong pricing, poor efficiency, no sales process, poor time management, no marketing, to name just a few. For today, let’s focus on time management and marketing.

How do you market when you don’t have time?

There are two options: Delegate or DIY. Even if you choose to delegate it, you still need to brief it with an agency or provider. If you can’t afford to delegate then let’s create a simple system and some time in your diary to regularly turn the marketing wheel.

A good rule of thumb for SMEs is to spend 1 day in every 5 on the business, and 25% of that time should be on marketing. Even a focussed hour every week can bear fruit.

So what should you be doing, what does a simple system look like?

  1. Goal - Get clear on what you want to achieve

  2. Why - What’s the purpose of the goal, what will it mean for your business?

  3. Plan - What are the steps to get there?

  4. Time - Block out regular time in your calendar to do the work

  5. Start - Take action

Steps one, two and three make up part of a good marketing plan . If you don’t have a marketing plan then its time to create one. It doesn’t have to be war and peace, just a road map of where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there. Without a plan, you risk going around in circles, chasing BSOs* and the next big marketing fad, wasting time, energy and precious dollars.

Allocate an hour per week to work on your marketing plan. Chances are that you’ll spend more time on it once you get started, but it's important to set an easy target (1hr per week) so that you don’t fail and beat yourself up. Here’s a link to a marketing plan template, offered by the Government of South Australia’s Small Business website.

What if you don’t have time to do a marketing plan?

What this is really saying is you can’t be bothered. If this is the case then skip steps 1 - 3, and get straight to step 4. Block out some time every week in your calendar, and let’s get tactical. Pick a time of the week where you are least likely to be distracted and block it out. Some of the activities below need to be done during business hours, others do not. Start by listing all the ways you can drum up more business:

  • email campaign

  • telemarketing

  • networking

  • direct mail

  • brochure

  • event stall

  • speaking engagement

  • seminar

  • door knocking

  • call your clients

  • joint venture

  • advertising

  • referrals

  • blogging

  • guerilla marketing tactics [Google it!]

Pick one and jot down your plan of attack. What’s the first step, then the second, and so on. For an email campaign it might be: set objective, describe the audience, write a list of topics, choose the first topic and write a draft, have it proofread, specify the call to action, design the email, collate database, send it out, follow up.

Just about every sales process requires a visual of the product or service. This can take the form of a presentation, a brochure, a website. If you’re going to do a mail out or go door knocking then a brochure or ‘leave-behind’ is going to be important. Put this on the top of your list, with a script and a cover letter, and get cracking. Schedule in the time in your diary and just get started. 

“The best way to get something done is to begin"

At some point, you’re going to need to talk to those prospective clients. So, write a script, practice it, get clear on the objective of the call/email/mail out/etc, and then get started. Search online for scripts for sales and marketing campaigns, cold calls, etc. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Just find one and work with that. 

The silver bullet.

Everything counts. The way you present yourself, your logo, collateral, language, manners, follow-up process, and of course, your product and offer.  If copywriting isn’t your strength, then find a copywriter. If graphic design isn’t your profession then find a designer to help you create a sales and marketing tool such as a brochure, website, etc. 

Discipline and Accountability

Like anything worthwhile, it takes a little bit of effort and consistency. If that sounds like a challenge for you, maybe a coach could help you with accountability and to keep you moving along.

Get clear.
Get a plan.
Get started.

*A BSO is  Bright Shiny Object. You know, that new fang-dangled whizz-bang thing you had to have, or when you keep switching ideas and fads and products and services without any real reason why.