Is marketing on your list of resolutions this New Year?
Has reality already set in - or are you determinedly sticking to your New Year Resolutions (assuming you make any of course)? It's easy enough, when you have a bit of a break over Christmas, to promise yourself you will take a different approach this year. Thinking about this perennial problem made me dust off an article I wrote back in 2010 - hopefully it will help you if it's marketing you've resolved to tackle.
There never seems to be enough time in business to do everything you want to or feel you should be doing. Priorities have to be juggled and renegotiated every day. My clients struggle to find time to move their marketing activities forward - and at The Purple Edge we too have more ideas for things we want to do than we find time to do them! As always, when I'm talking about 'marketing' I'm not confining myself to just the promotional activities. I'm including the full scope of marketing: understanding the market and customers, developing your product and service portfolio, setting price, and, last but not least, telling your target audience about what you can do! In short, a marketing plan.
Of course I believe that marketing is the single most critical activity in any business - because it is the process by which you will thrive and grow, if that is what you want for your business. And that is the nub of the issue. What do you want for your business?
Step one of your marketing plan is about setting your business objectives so that you can build a suitable and relevant plan. Get that bit right and setting your priorities and making decisions about how much marketing budget you need to invest and what activities you will (rather than should) do to achieve those objectives comes that much easier.
A plan needs to be built on the resources you have available. It is not a wishlist. So if you carry out all the activities in house in the timeframe needed then you should be looking at whether it is better use of your time and money to outsource the work. This is especially true if your own time is worth more when spent on the delivery (i.e. directly money earning) part of your business.
Marketing does not need to take up a huge amount of your time. As it impacts on so many areas you are probably thinking about one or other aspects throughout the day (for example improving service to customers) as you carry out many other tasks, but a few hours every week should be set aside to really concentrate on marketing. Time when you can check you are on track in your plan and take at least some small steps to move matters forward. If you find you are way behind on hitting your objectives it can be a long process to implement action that will generate new business coming from a standing start. Building and maintaining profile, awareness and reputation cannot be done overnight!
So, to help focus you on making time for marketing, here are my top 3 priorities for your marketing:
- Build a plan for the year linked to your objectives. This will make it real and help you take decisions on how you will use the resources you have to hit your targets.
- Establish some level of regular communications to the market, and I include in that keeping your website up to date. I talked about customer contact in a previous blog post, and maintaining a light contact programme can take relatively little time. More importantly it gives you the wherewithall to 'increase the volume' without huge time or expense when you need to increase your results.
- Review your plan regularly - that way there are no nasty surprises and you can take any additional action calmly, without having to put everything else aside while you catch up on the marketing that you have let get so far behind.
Time management is all about focusing and priortising what really matters - and marketing does matter to every business! Little and often will help you keep it under control, and if you are hitting your plan you can stop worrying that you are not doing enough!