You can’t skip eating for a week and then refuel yourself in one day, and you can’t do the same with marketing. It’s hard, but finding the time to promote the business must be a priority if you want to keep growing at a healthy rate. You have to do it every (working) day-for at least two hours a day. So here are some ideas to help you fit it in:
1. Outsource the things you shouldn’t be doing. You knew I was going to say this, so I won’t harp on it. But remember that it’s mathematically impossible to make $100 an hour while you’re doing $15 an hour tasks?
2. Start an idea book. Someone sends you a link to check out, or you get a great idea for a new service. In the excitement, you drop what you’re doing to explore further-then suddenly you look up and it’s two hours later. Next time, jot down the link or the idea in a notebook or on a sticky note to go into an idea book. It’ll be there for you later when you have time to look into it, and in the meantime you may realize it’s not a good idea after all.
3. Create a marketing calendar. Spend some time mapping out what you want to do over the next month or so. For those tasks you need to do weekly, assign a day of the week and how much time you want to spend on it. For example, my calendar says I’m going to visit the Linked-In website every Tuesday and Thursday for 15 minutes, and I’m going to spend 3 hours on Saturday writing articles. Have certain promotions you want to do? Put them on the calendar as well so you can see when you need to be getting things ready.
4. Time yourself. A kitchen timer is a clear reminder that time is up on a task. If you decide you want to keep working on that item, take a quick break then reset the timer. Otherwise you may fall into “zombie mode” where your brain is getting increasingly less productive but you’re still sitting there trying to finish three hours later.
5. Batching tasks. Schedule client appointments back to back and group any other like tasks together as well. It’s much more efficient to sit down and crank out all the articles you need for the week in one sitting, than to try to work on them piecemeal here and there. Same for phone calls you need to make. You’ll save time plus get bigger chunks of time to concentrate on projects.
6. Automate repetitive tasks. If you type certain emails over and over again, store a copy in your Outlook Drafts folder or use an autoresponder service. I’ve also found free applications that feed my blog posts to Twitter and Facebook. Just Google what you’re looking to do and you’ll probably find suggestions for free or low-cost software that can save you time doing it. (To be safe, I usually look for recommendations from other legit-looking bloggers, not the sites of the applications themselves.)
7. Take advantage of “down” times. For some reason, article outlines often come to me while I’m brushing my teeth at night. Or I’ll use a digital recorder to brainstorm ideas or map out what I want to say while I’m driving. Being away from your desk can actually spark your creativity, so take advantage of that by keeping paper and pens stashed everywhere.
8. Eliminate marketing time wasters. Networking can be a huge time waste. You do NOT need to attend every networking event in town-and it’s really not going to do you much good to do so. Be strategic about the groups you get involved with, and the events you go to. Here’s a blog article that discusses this a little more. And of course, track your marketing results so you can eliminate tactics that aren’t paying-off in a reasonable amount of time.
Tracy Needham, founder of Compelling Communications, LLC, helps small business owners boost their business through compelling copy and marketing strategies that make the most of their time and money. Sign up for her FREE Special Report: The One Press Release You Can Write to Get Thousands of Dollars Worth of Free Publicity at (c) 2008 Tracy Needham