Are you too busy to spend time marketing your business? Some simple tips to make marketing work for you
Recent meetings with clients who run SME business and have responsibility for their marketing has made me realise the challenge that they face as opposed to working with dedicated marketing professionals.
And it is not the obvious ones of lack of marketing experience, tight budgets or the scarcity of time to focus on this activity (although these are all common challenges they face). No what suddenly hit me like a bolt from the blue is that they are torn – they know they need to be proactively marketing, but sometimes when you are working flat out in a business this can feel like it is just generating a whole lot of extra work!
‘Too busy to take more work’ syndrome
Let me explain. One client whose business is seasonal with peaks of activity knows they need to keep the sales pipeline full yet when at maximum capacity the inclination to send out campaigns that will bring in even more leads to deal with can be daunting. They worry that they will be able to manage the leads and potential new business and this can lead to projects dragging on and not being completed.
Nice problem to have, you might say – being too busy to cope with new work, but they know they have quiet times and a protracted sales process so they cannot afford to wait for the lean times to market.
Let’s compare this scenario with that of a business who has a dedicated marketing team. A professional marketing department is in essence a simple beast. It has a set of objectives and targets around things such as the number of leads, new customers, sales, margin, product mix and customer retention and it implements and executes activities and campaigns to go and achieve these targets. The marketing team rarely get involved in the delivery of the product or service or actually doing the work involved. This allows them to be very purist and focussed in their activity, in other words, to get the job done.
Compare this to a Director or Senior Manager of a business who is responsible for marketing in addition to actually doing the job. They know that when that lead, sale or new customer comes in they then have to actually do something with it! And the knowledge of this can be off putting.
So what to do? I don’t believe any business is too busy to have more work, BUT you need to be very integrated and aware when a small business about the type of work you want, need and can handle.
Be smart with your marketing activity and spend
Here are some tips about how to decide what you should and shouldn’t be doing –
#1 Use marketing to bring in your ‘dream’ clients and customers.
If you have limited capacity you will be more profitable working on the type of business that makes you most money, is the most prestigious or you just plain enjoy doing. So this should be the business you target to get.
#2 Use marketing to target high margin business
This may not be your ‘dream clients’ as other factors are involved in that, but you should be looking at the business that brings you in the best return on investment. It may not be your biggest clients or contracts, which can often have screwed you down on price. Be realistic about the types of business that gives a good reward to effort ratio or higher sales margins. If you have limited resource, spending this resource on business that will bring in better returns is a much better solution than being a ‘busy fool’.
#3 Use marketing to target people who can refer qualified business into you
Are you in a business where you can build a relationship with another company who can refer business into you? This is a smart strategy on a number of levels as it is cost effective (you can win one new referrer that might be equal to a 100 direct customers) and the people they refer are often ripe for conversion as the referrer has already identified a need and endorsed your product or serves through their recommendation.
#4 Use marketing to bring in incremental business
Are there any new sectors or target audiences you could move into? Actively targeting develops fresh new business that is in addition to the work you already have.
#5 Use marketing to fill any gaps in your business
Gaps could be due to seasonality, so if you have quiet times, what can you do to fill them? This may be linked to point #4 and require looking outside your core business or market. Do you have any departments or areas of your business where there is capacity or that is easily scalable? Maybe these could take more work easier than other parts of the business.
#6 Use marketing to squeeze more from existing customers
I have covered this angle in a previous blog ‘Don’t neglect the golden goose’ but not only is it cost effective to get more work from existing clients, it is often easier work. Winning a new customer and the early stages of the relationship can be extremely labour intensive as well as costly. Extra business from existing clients will usually slot easily into your workload and have less potential teething problems.
#7 Set yourself small tasks you can complete
This isn’t really a marketing issue more one of time management, but in marketing it can be a problem area. Set yourself deadlines and break your activities and campaigns into small chunks that can be completed. Activities are often linked so work out what project, if completed would have the most benefit. For example, you may want to do more on social media or email marketing, but if your website is not up to scratch you would be better spending the time to bring it up to par, before you engage in activities to drive traffic to the site.
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