3 challenges face most small businesses in digital marketing: time, creativity, and strategy. You need ongoing content for the blog, social media, video, PR, event marketing, but knowing what to create (content strategy), and how to apply it (digital strategy), is most often hampered simply by time.
A Reliable Business Plan Provides for Marketing
Time is most often a problem, actually, because of an inadequate business plan. The parts of a business include Delivery or Fulfillment (of services or products), Customer Service (e.g. time on the phone and in e-mail), Accounting & Bookkeeping, Personnel (if you’re not a solo professional), IT & Technology (creating & maintaining the underlying technical solutions – from phones to computers), Admin (filing and paperwork) and other Operations functions (like planning out your business in the first place)… and guess what usually gets left for last? Marketing. It’s often phrased as “What’s the least I can do to get results?” But the answer is, the least you can do will get the least results.
Marketing Minimalism Ensures Minimal Outcomes
The “left for last” approach to marketing is even more common among smaller businesses that have the most to gain from competing effectively against larger operations, but where the owner may be doing some or all of the main operational parts of running a company. The least successful business model is organized around a trifecta of failure of: “the actual work” (service fulfillment), “the stuff you have to do” (everything else), and leaves little room for “the stuff I didn’t get into this business for” – the afterthought – marketing. But any successful business plan includes Marketing as a core business process and provides for it at the start, even before launch, and certainly as an ongoing critical operation. Making it a necessary evil doesn’t do wonders for inspiring effective marketing activity, either – successful marketing decides from the outset that it’s going to be fun, and holds to that, even though for any company there’s a learning curve.
Your Trifecta of Marketing Success
Marketing fails most often, because it’s not planned for, planned at all, or conducted according to a plan. The 3 elements to grapple with are time, creativity, and strategy. Fixing these creates a trifecta of success.
1. Scheduling & Commitment: You can do effective small business marketing in 6-25 hours per month. That’s a wide range of difference, and it should depend on your planned goals. If your goal is to engage in some marketing, and merely move the needle, but plan on minimal results, you can get away with 90-minutes a week. Don’t expect much in that case, and plan on a longer haul to see growth. If you want optimal results, make it 5hrs/week, or 1 hour per business day. You can do more, of course, but that level, done consistently, would be fairly impressive. Also, if you’re coming back from a long marketing absence, start with more, not less, if you can do it. It’s harder to climb up from nothing than from momentum.
2. Consistency & Vision: is the bugaboo of setting aside time for marketing. When you do it, you have to mean it; it’s a discipline – a fun one, but a discipline nonetheless. If your business has neglected marketing as a core business function, you have to build it back into the business model. Use Google Calendar or a planning tool like Trello, or a blog scheduling calendar or some other method to insist that marketing actually take place. And commit for the long view. If you’re looking for the kneejerk consumer response of “we sent out our first flyer in 3 years, and got overwhelming response”, you’re betting on luck, not wisdom, which comes from consistency applied over time. Instant results aren’t realistic, because people aren’t Pavlov’s dogs, salivating at the first sound of a marketing dinner bell.
3. Strategy Coaching: The “what do I do?” part (digital strategy), and the “what do I write or create?” part (content strategy) can be an area you grow into rapidly with effective coaching. Companies that have traditionally benefited from and so come to rely on semi-automatic boons in the market (real estate and mortgage are common examples) are probably the most in need of transforming their vision of how to cultivate and engage audiences in a more volatile market, with more solidified competition, and simply less to go around. What used to be a slight shoving match in a parochial school hallway is now an all out prizefight in the broad streets of a savvier, pickier, and less forgiving market environment. You wouldn’t go into that analogy without a coach, any more than Stallone would as Rocky Balboa. It’s essential now.
Time is your first and biggest ally. Put it in your corner with consistency and vision and you’ve set your business up for digital marketing success. We’d love to help in this area. Contact MadPipe now for a free initial consultation.