As a small business owner, I’m very aware of how difficult it can be to juggle everything from the day to day running of the business, managing clients and keeping to deadlines, coping with admin, marketing the business, doing accounts, and of course trying to have a life outside of work! Wearing several hats can be very difficult and even more so if you’re trying to manage more than one business like me as I also have an e-commerce sideline.
It’s very easy to let everything slip when you get busy, and marketing is often one of those very important activities that does just end up on the ‘to do’ list. We’ve all been there I’m sure, busy fulfilling orders or completing projects, the marketing stops and then re-starts with a flurry when work goes quiet again.
It can be very difficult for it not to be like this, but after many years in business, I’ve tried and tested many marketing activities, which can be automated, or prepared in advance ready for those busy times!
I’ve done plenty of email marketing over the years and if you’ve built up a list, the last thing thing you want is to stop sending out newsletters when you’re too busy. If you’ve written articles or blog posts for your business, you can save time by using email to RSS – a feature of Mailchimp which is a very popular email marketing platform. This only takes a few minutes to set up and means you keep your name in front of your list of subscribers on a regular basis. Newsletters do not need to be lengthy, the important thing is to keep up the relationship with those who want to hear from you.
If you have a website, you should try to update it with a blog, news or article regularly, ideally a couple of times a month. I used to blog every week with my former colleague, but there’s so much great content out there to share, it makes sense to share it on the blog rather than try and write something similar myself (and let’s face it, there’s tons of articles about internet marketing so lots to choose from)! I’ve used a service called Scoop.it, which enabled us to publish other website’s posts to the blog (via the Scoop.it website). I also publish useful infographics I come across in between my posts. Doing this keeps the blog fresh and up to date, as well as widening the variety of content published on it. This means you don’t feel under pressure to publish unique posts of your own all the time.
Social networking seems to a major stumbling block for many small business owners and done in a flurry of activity, and then stopped again for a while. This means your presence is sporadic and people only see your updates at any one time, particularly on Twitter. To overcome this, use a service such as Hootsuite which allows you to pre-schedule tweets, Facebook and Google+ updates. Although automation isn’t a replacement for actually ‘networking socially’ on the social networks, it does mean that when you’re really busy, you keep your name out there and can still share some useful information. Social networks like Twitter are increasingly promotional, with less interaction these days, but do try to log in from time to time to retweet others and just say hello.
The same goes with other social networks. You may only put your own products or services on your Facebook page, but share other people’s updates from time to time and take the time to like others’ updates too. LinkedIn is harder to use when you’re not physically there, but you can schedule useful links to share to your profile. Do log on when you can to participate in discussions or just see what your connections are up to.
Making sure your marketing isn’t totally neglected during busy times means you have to be very organised and self-disciplined. Just spending an hour or so on a Friday afternoon pre-scheduling some updates to the social networks and making sure your newsletter goes out can make all the difference. If you have an editorial calendar, however basic, it will make it easier to do this as you will know exactly what to write about or share on the social networks.
It’s very easy to procrastinate with marketing, but a nice reward for yourself at the end of it (read bar of chocolate or glass of wine!) may motivate you to get on and do it. It’ll soon become a part of your weekly routine.