Marketing is essential for small business success

You probably didn’t get into business so that you could spend time marketing. Most small business owners have a passion for the activities of their business. However working with clients is not the only demand on your time. As well as doing what you love there are other tasks that may be less pleasant and/or rewarding: Admin, staff management, recruitment, payroll and, of course, marketing.

Marketing can become a chore – even if you accept the reality that you need to get the word out about your business, marketing itself can be seen as a burden. Let’s face it, when you are presented with tasks you would rather not do, they tend to become relegated in the pecking order. If you have ever found yourself reorganizing your business cards again when more important activities beckon, you will be familiar with this scenario.

Unfortunately, marketing can become one of the relegated activities.

Time is a valuable, finite commodity

However essential, marketing competes with your other business activities and there are only a certain number of hours to devote to your business life. The rest of your life is important too! As far as marketing goes there are two common marketing issues that develop with small businesses:

1. Marketing avoidance – sporadic, infrequent marketing or none at all. There are always other things to do that are more comfortable so maybe I will get to marketing tomorrow

2. Silo marketing – the opposite issue. You dive headlong into a series of unconnected activities. A lot of energy, money and time spent on tools and tactics that may be OK in principal, but are ineffective because they are aimed at the wrong audience or are not in place long enough to yield results.

Both of these approaches may yield some clients, but tend to be frustrating and inconsistent and continue to drive the belief that marketing is a chore.

Allocate time and energy effectively

If you are uncomfortable with marketing today, you probably will be tomorrow. However you can commit to becoming better TODAY, and making marketing more effective, less of a time drain and even fun. Consider the following tips:

Marketing mindset – marketing is a process rather than an activity. If you believe it is difficult, or that you are bad at it, that will not serve you as you approach marketing tactics. Commit to developing a marketing strategy that you enjoy. Don’t worry if you can’t visualize that right away. Commitment to developing such a strategy is the key point
Skill development – marketing is a skill which means you can learn it. Commit to developing in this area. For example schedule time to read books, take a course, find a marketing mentor etc.
Define your ideal client profile – who do you love to work with? Be as specific as you can. What is their business profile? Take the time to figure out the problems you solve for them. This is foundational and will underpin your marketing message – without a clear understanding of this it is tough to focus on the best tactics
Research and choose tactics – find tactics that are likely to put you in front of your ideal clients. Challenge yourself – choose one or two that are outside your comfort zone and commit to developing the required skills as part of your personal development plan. Choose a few that you will be able to find the time for consistently over time. Most marketing requires some time and consistent application to generate results. Decide to devote that time up front
Schedule time and write it into your schedule – this time is as important as client meetings. Include it in the schedule and DON’T think of it as time you can reallocate to something else. Early on include time spent developing your marketing skills as well as carrying out marketing activities.
Stay on Task – it is easy to become distracted by a special offer or by something you would rather be doing. Part of your commitment to developing a successful marketing approach is consistency and application.