I’ve recently gone through a period where I was busy working on a contract for a client, and haven’t blogged lately, so this is most assuredly preaching about what I haven’t completely practiced.
One of the resource constraints that small businesses face is that getting busy (because the marketing is working) tends to cut out time for marketing (which causes the marketing to stop working). There is only one complete cure for this, but first a few things to at least minimize the damage:
- take time out from delivery to keep marketing. Avoid over-promising to clients. If you’ve got a new client or one that you’ve picked up new work from, it’s natural to want to impress them. But keep time in the budget for marketing. You’re no doubt juggling commitments to a few stakeholders – more than one customer, a spouse, children. There needs to be one more stakeholder in the mix – think of them as a future client that needs to hear about you, not just an abstract “I need to do some marketing.” Stake out an hour for them at least every other day. (I’m giving myself a D on this one.)
- use the time pressure to take a hard look at what’s working. If that particular meeting you’ve been going to every week is a fun social outlet but you’ve been telling yourself it’s a source of leads, you may find yourself letting that one go when you get busier. And maybe that’s a sign that you need to find another thing to do that is both fun AND really a source of leads when you get more time. I’ll give myself a B on this one. I discovered over this very busy summer that the time I was spending on analyzing my google results wasn’t paying off in leads.
- find the slack moments. There are always going to be stray bits of time where work for clients is stalled. I probably could have written 50 blog posts during the times I spent waiting for the next phone call I needed to make in the past few weeks. D- on this one! (I got poor marks for using time wisely in grade school, too.)
- don’t let the great be the enemy of the good. Yeah, you should do something every day to market your business. But don’t let 1(2,3) day(s) off turn into weeks, or months. If you can’t do something brilliant and new, recycle something average and old. If you can’t write a post, tweet something. I’ll give myself a C- here because I did stay active in certain channels, even if I neglected others, and I showed up for some in-person events.
Finally, the ultimate cure for marketing cutting out time for delivery (and vice versa) is: hire someone to do marketing. Or delivery, if you can find that someone. Business development and marketing are difficult jobs to do on a part-time basis, because the tangible commitment to deliver something for a customer always seems more tangible and urgent than the long-term need to keep your business healthy by doing things to bring in new customers. It’s not rational, but it’s pretty deep-seated in our psyche.