marketing plan

If you’re running a small business marketing is essential, but it’s also one of the things that gets pushed down the to-do list when you get busy.  If you don’t maintain visibility and keep ‘restuffing the sausage machine’, you’ll find your business suffers from feast and famine.

But when you’re time-poor, how do you keep up consistent marketing?

You have four options:

  1. Don’t do any marketing when you’re busy
  2. Have a plan, with a pared-down version for when you’re busy
  3. Do your marketing at midnight, because that’s the only time you have available
  4. Outsource it

Option 1 creates more challenges than it solves.  If you don’t keep the marketing machine running it’s likely that you’ll face an uphill struggle every time you restart your marketing efforts – and that’s not good business.  You’re pretty much reinventing the wheel!

Option 2 is a good idea.  Having a system is essential and, if you think about it, you can create something that is easy to run and can be pared down to reduce the amount of time required to keep it going – while still maintaining your visibility.

Option 3 is a recipe for burnout.  It may not be realistic to work on your business during normal business hours only, but don’t make it any harder than it needs to be.

Option 4 is solution that will definitely work – but you can’t abdicate all responsibility.  Working with an external marketer offers lots of benefits, but you will need to work with them.

So, you’ve got two viable options that are good for you and your business.  Regardless of which route you choose, you’ll need a marketing plan.

A good marketing plan

This isn’t a social media schedule or a monthly newsletter.  A good marketing plan needs time and thought to be invested, and once it’s created, it will make life a lot easier.

The core elements are:

  • Your ideal customer avatar: their problems, pains, goals and barriers to overcome.
  • How you can help: what problems can you solve for them?  What benefits will they experience from working with you?
  • Where will you find people who match your avatar? This might be an online forum or an industry association meeting, explore where these people hang out, both actually and digitally.
  • What are the tools available to you to reach your ideal customer? These might include social media, blogs, webinars, direct sales, email campaigns, networking, video, podcasts, the list is long!  Choose the ones that will work best for your target audience, don’t try to do everything.
  • Who will be responsible for generating and posting content, attending networking events, etc.?
  • Measurement and review: How will you measure success?  How often will you review your plan and tweak it when needed?

Systems make life easier

Having systems in place will make everything run more smoothly.  For instance a social media schedule that has a theme for each week with types of post e.g. opinion for LinkedIn, tip for Facebook, graphic with a question for Instagram – and so on.  Having a trigger and a subject makes content generation much easier.

If you use a design tool like Canva for creating your social media posts, developing a smart template or two that just need images and words adding will also improve your time management.  You can use your brand colours and produce a professional result with the minimum of effort.

If you write a blog article, take quotes from it for social media and use it to lead your newsletter – don’t reinvent the wheel!

If you are running your own marketing, you’ll need to decide what the bare minimum is.

For instance:

  • Instead of posting three social media posts every week, maybe one post a week will ensure your social accounts don’t have tumbleweed blowing through.
  • Instead of writing two blogs a month, create one short article with a great piece of advice.
  • Instead of posting a video every week on YouTube, create a single longer video, then use AI to clip it into short posts for social media. A 20-minute video can create 30+ social posts in the click of a button.

If you choose to work with an agency, they should be able to keep generating content for you.  You’ll still need to make the time to review the posts, articles, etc. and have regular discussions to ensure they know what’s going on in your business and can contribute useful ideas for your ongoing marketing.