Tell me if any of this sounds familiar…you’re staring at your cash flow projections for the year and you get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. There’s plenty flowing out, but not as much flowing in as you’d hoped. Maybe you’ve hit a lull. Maybe you’ve unexpectedly lost a long-term revenue stream without warning. Maybe your overheads have gone up. Or maybe you’re just frustrated that this year’s revenue isn’t much higher than last year’s.
Maybe it isn’t higher at all.
You start to panic.
You need to bring in more business.
You need to do some marketing!
So you start making calls. You start looking into advertising. You start frantically writing blog posts, Tweeting, blasting out email campaigns, or maybe even braving the terrors of Facebook Live…
You talk to your team and make it very clear: new business is a top priority.
And suddenly they’re scrabbling too.
All that frantic effort pays off, and a prospect or two that’s been loitering in the wings for a while finally bites and boom! New customer.
You breathe a sigh of relief.
Everything calms down.
You think you’ve fixed the issue, but believe me, you haven’t. You see, the truth about business – any business – is that success takes work.
You already know that.
What you may not have fully considered is that for all the work you pour into working in your business – managing day-to-day tasks, working on projects, delivering orders, talking to clients, admin, etc. – you should be pouring an equal amount into working on your business.
That means coming up with new products and services, finding ways to develop and expand, and of course, marketing, marketing, marketing.
So many business owners fall into the trap of neglecting to work on their business because they’re so busy working in their business. When they do work on their business, they tend to stick to what they know best, and marketing is neglected.
But marketing your business is a full-time job, and if you want to develop your business, grow, and create the success you deserve, it’s one you absolutely have to be doing. Here’s why…
The Problem With Only Marketing Your Business ‘When You Have Time’…
So you’ve looked at your revenue projections, panicked, and managed to drum up a few new hot leads. You relax. A month or two passes and all that frantic marketing has ebbed. You’ve either given up completely, slowed your pace considerably, or are still going at it full-tilt and wondering why nothing has come of it.
After all, you got some quick results at the start, what happened?
Here’s the thing: if you don’t have a fully-fledged and consistent marketing strategy in place, and it’s a while since you did anything to convert potential customers into business, the odds are you have a few pilot fish lurking.
You know, people who’ve heard of your via word of mouth but never had the kick to do anything about the recommendation. People who stumbled across you via social media, or an old ad, but weren’t ready to actually bite yet. Old customers who keep meaning to give you a call, or buy from you again, but never quite get around to it. People who have been following your blog for a while but never quite felt ready to get in touch.
They drift along through the waters with you, nibbling on the information you’re putting out there, which is enough to keep them following you, but not enough to fatten them up into anything you can actually catch and reel in.
Your panicked efforts to find new business worked because you’ve suddenly given those little fish, already happy to nibble and follow, a massive meal. It’s stirred their interest and you’ve caught yourself a couple of new clients.
But now you have no pilot fish – you already converted them.
Now you’re swimming along on your own and the only way you’re going to land more new customers is to attract more fish.
You need bait.
Your marketing is the bait.
Consistent Marketing, Consistent Leads, Stable Business…
The problem you have is that the marketing you’ve been doing is sporadic, disorganised, and something you either don’t know enough about to do effectively or don’t have time to do well and often.
And that, of course, is why you find yourself once more staring at your cash flow and revenue forecast and despairing.
Businesses do not grow without consistent, quality marketing.
They tick over, they occasionally have the odd burst of success or new business, but sustainable growth and continued evolution is not something that happens spontaneously.
It takes work.
A lot of work.
Far more work than you have time for because you’re already fully occupied running your business.
What Do You Realistically Have Time To Do Consistently?
So, you have two problems – there’s never enough time, and you’re struggling to remain consistent. It’s understandable that if you find yourself at a loose end one week you’d throw a good few hours into your marketing. But if you then have a week or two when you do no marketing at all, followed by a few weeks of minimal effort in fits-and-starts, and then another week when you do loads, you’re not being consistent.
It’s far better to get realistic about how much time you can devote (or allow your team members to devote) to marketing your business. Look at how many hours you can spare each month – not each week, each month – and block that time off in the diary where it fits in best.
It doesn’t matter if you have an hour one week, five hours the next, and none for the last two weeks of the month. As long as you fit your hours in each month, and stick to a clear schedule that ensures what you create goes out consistently – even if you’re not working on it for the same amount of time each week – you’re fine.
Come up with a plan that can realistically be actioned in the time you’ve decided you can dedicate to it.
Now, hold your horses. Instead of whacking something up on social today, take a breath. Plan your new marketing campaign to start next month. The hours you’ve set aside this month will be used to create the marketing that will take place next month.
Next month you’ll be doing the work for the month after, and so on.
That way, it doesn’t matter where you fit it in, as long as it gets done before the end of the month your marketing will be perfectly consistent, because all the work is done before any of it goes live.
Once you’ve figured out how much time you can realistically devote to your marketing, you need to find the best ways to maximise the productive value of that time.
How Can You Make Your Marketing As Efficient As Possible?
There are a lot of ways to make your marketing efforts as efficient as possible, but the main ones are:
Pick The Right People For Every Task…
Assign tasks to those most capable of performing them to a high standard in a short time. This might mean that your top team members are doing your marketing for you when really you wanted to hand it off to an intern or someone on a lower pay scale. Just remember, money isn’t the obstacle here, time is.
Giving the task to someone junior means one of three things: it won’t get done as well as needed; it will take them a phenomenally long time to do it; or they will need help completing it at all and that senior team member will wind up spending time on it anyway. The efficient solution is to block off a few hours for the best person for the job to crack on and get it done (even if that means doing it yourself).
Batch Your Content…
All marketing runs on content, from blog posts to ads, social updates, newsletters, catalogues, flyers, even packaging, it all includes content. Words, images, videos. If you’re doing your marketing well you’re going to need more content than you would believe possible, so be smart about how you create it. Instead of spending three or four hours a week trying to hammer out a blog post, block off a whole day and get a month’s worth written in one sitting.
Schedule As Much As Possible In Advance…
As we’ve said, consistency is key. You need your marketing to run like clockwork, and one of the biggest hurdles to consistency is a hectic schedule. Don’t rely on having the time to upload your blog every week, or post to your social media every day. If you’re on Twitter, in particular, remembering to Tweet 15+ times throughout the course of every day is simply not feasible!
Instead, take all that content you’ve batched, and get it scheduled. Box it off, forget about it. Job done.
Create Templates, Guidelines, And Checklists…
One thing you will find is that you’re frequently creating things that are, in many ways, very similar. Social media posts in particular usually have similar visual elements that are needed each week, while written content frequently has a structure that remains the same week to work. The specific words and images change, but the bones of what you’re creating and the process you use to create it remains the same.
Take advantage of that! Create templates to speed up your creation process, guidelines to ensure everything remains consistent (without the need to constantly look at stuff you did previously and remember how you did it), and checklists to streamline your processes and ensure you never miss a step.
The #1 Business Development Trap: Unsustainable Growth
A funny but wonderful thing happens when you consistently market your business.
Your business grows.
Cracking. Just what you wanted, right?
While business growth is the goal, there’s a bit of a Catch 22 that happens when your marketing gets effective. You start getting more leads coming in. You sign more clients, have more customers, and need to meet greater demand for your products or services.
In theory, this is amazing, but in practice, it creates an issue: you’re spending more time serving your customers because suddenly there are so many more of them, and that time has to come from somewhere.
Unless you’re hiring new staff in a timely fashion that allows you to meet all that new demand, something’s going to give, and that something is going to be your marketing.
This literally happened with Acrylic this year. We started an intense new marketing campaign at the beginning of the year with the launch of the new website. We got very busy, very quickly. We started looking for a new staff member to help meet the demand, but as luck would have it just as she was starting, one of our long-standing members of the team (who had baby number two last year) decided to take a job in Liverpool so she didn’t have such a long commute.
Understandable, but it left us in a bit of a bind as we had to start searching for another new team member and in the interim we couldn’t keep up with marketing all our clients and marketing ourselves. Something had to give.
That something was our own marketing.
The weekly blog posts that had been going out like clockwork all year, every Monday, stopped, as did our weekly newsletter, as did our efforts on social media.
It wasn’t that we weren’t prioritising our own marketing, it was simply that we couldn’t justify marketing ourselves at the expense of failing to market a client.
Time is finite.
Marketing generates more business, which means you inevitably end up spending more time working in your business, and less time working on your business. And so your consistency slips, your rate of lead generation slows, and all that growth you so painstakingly created starts to vanish.
Nobody Wants Two Full-Time Jobs…
As a business owner, unsustainable growth is one of the most frustrating things to witness, and it’s a trap that even the best of us fall into.
In time you get back on track – you hire new people, you shuffle around the workload, and eventually, you get back to your own marketing. The problem is that it leads to a ‘feast or famine’ situation where leads are concerned.
You’re either inundated by more prospects than you can handle, or you have nothing but crickets on your hands for weeks or even months at a time.
There are some things you can do to mitigate the quiet periods when you’re unable to invest in your own marketing – check out Hazel’s recent blog the immortal nature of SEO for more on this – but the upshot of anyone serious about business development is this:
You need a person (or team) dedicated to simply marketing your business.
They won’t work in your business at all. They will simply work on your business, making them completely detached from the needs of your clients or customers and capable of ensuring the level and consistency of marketing you need to support sustainable growth.
If you’re tired of falling into this particular business development trap and you’re ready to step up your marketing game, generate those consistent leads, and sustainably grow your business, Acrylic can help. You don’t really want to work two full-time jobs (nobody does!). Even if you did, time will not permit it. Instead of struggling to give your marketing the attention it deserves (and your business needs) let the experts handle it for you. Book a free consultation with me right now using the booking system below, and we’ll see about getting you that dedicated marketing team…
Acrylic Digital’s co-founder and director Nick Simpson is a marketing magician and the brains behind the business development side of our team. Keeping our customers happy and making sure we deliver maximum ROI to each and every one is a bit of an obsession of his.
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