Among the things my clients will often hear me rail against is haphazard marketing. Many small businesses fall into a bad habit of only marketing when they need customers. This creates what I refer to as the “feast or famine 500”. They race around the track like they’re at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, throttling up very clever marketing ideas over a brief period of time, generating a wealth of new contacts, lapping their competition, only to take their foot off the gas as they call the leads, demo the prospects, and service new customers. This is the equivalent of “racing through the rear-view mirror.” The key to good marketing is consistency while looking forward.
And herein lies my mea culpa. As a typical plate-spinning one-man operation, it’s a real challenge to stay consistent with my own marketing plan. I often advise my sole-proprietor clients to earmark at least 20% of their time for sales & marketing. However, if your campaign is successful you will hit periods in which your attention must necessarily go elsewhere. For example, after a successful push in the early part of this year I netted a nice haul of new business. I even had to turn some business down. A range of new clients came with short- to long-term assignments. At first, as often happens, the workload was manageable. But then clients grew and deadlines changed and needs expanded. In those cases, as many consultants do, I sacrificed my needs to the needs of the client knowing that it wouldn’t always be thus. True to form, while the summer was hectic, the fall has yielded to a point of stasis with my new accounts. Therefore, I’m able to turn my attention back to this blog and my own marketing activities.
In evidence of said busy-ness, Richard W. Butler, a retirement planner from Biddeford, Maine, is launching his campaign today! Please visit his new website at rwbutlercapital.com. Also, I helped a new campaign, Intentional Shift, to its feet starting in July. They’re promoting their book The Gift of Cancer: A Miraculous Journey to Healing on their blog using email, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and online events. Several of my existing accounts, including John Howard Swain, are fruitfully churning away.
So how does one avoid the dreaded “feast or famine” loop if you’re the chief cook-and-bottle-washer? As I said before, try as hard as you can to reserve 20% of your time for your own marketing. That’s about one day a week. I set aside Tuesdays. In that one day, I not only try to achieve that day’s marketing but try to put something into the marketing bank by queuing up extra blog, Twitter or Facebook posts. Also, I identify content sources to re-blog, re-Tweet or re-post. But be careful. Re-sending too much third-party content can cause your audience to lose interest and can have an adverse impact on SEO. Frequent, original material is still the best choice. In my case, I made a deliberate decision to pause in July and August when new demand for my services has been traditionally low and to re-start in September when people are back at work and refreshed from summer vacations.
For those of you who can afford it, you can always do what my clients did: Hire somebody to keep your campaign on track.