“I don’t have the time.” Seems that phrase is a small business owner’s mantra. Despite the time crunch, some owners find time to do the marketing tasks needed to sustain and grow their business while others don’t. What’s their secret?
Start with one concept for your content and use it across many channels. Imagine a blog post that can be shared on social media, republished in an email newsletter, included in a radio spot, inspire your print advertisement, repurpose your print advertisement as a mailer and later use the same content as part of a free talk or educational seminar. WHOA mind blown, right? Some business owners who are new to the idea argue that they need to have original content for everything. I don’t agree. By recycling content across mediums you reach a broader audience. Not everyone intakes information the same way. You can keep your message consistent and targeted. Best of all, you don’t have to recreate the wheel for each medium, keeping design, content development and image costs to a minimum.
Start with the end in mind and create materials that have a long shelf life and can be used for multiple purposes. “We make sure that content we put out holds relevance for a long time,” shared Dan Shifley, owner of Dogwood Solar. Dan explained he learned this lesson the hard way, “Early on I produced a bunch of flyers that I planned to use for several neighborhoods over time but I printed a specific date and year on them that made them only good a one-time use. Lesson learned.”
Sometimes the hard part is knowing where to start. Having a documented process can provide you with a good starting point and reach a polished end result. Process adds consistency to your in-house marketing efforts and best of all it allows you to take the first step towards delegating!
“Delegate :-),” advised Susan Myers, Realtor at Weichert-First Tier, who did it all or not at all until she experienced the power of delegation. If you’re unable to find the time to do your marketing activities on your own, make a list of what you want to accomplish and determine what those activities are worth in projected income. Use that number to set a budget to find help. You may get by an intern for little tasks, a design freelancer or content developer to lighten the load or an agency to take care of it all.
Pre-created templates ensure consistency across marketing content and makes it easier to produce quality items through delegation. Dan explained, “I make sure the files and content I use the most is setup with formatting and styles so all I have to do is tweak content.”
If you spend more time opening and closing programs, stuffing envelopes or driving to the post office you may need to find a service to help you skip a step two. For social media consolidation consider using HootSuite to schedule and post to multiple social media sites at one time. Services like SendOutCards will deliver treats and cards to you database no envelope stuffing necessary. Also, for pre-designed mass mailings local companies like Direct Imapqt, formerly Mail and More, will print, address, send and track your mailings for you.
“Our goal is a 12 month soft touch system, all pre-scheduled, with limited maintenance after it’s in place.” shared Susan. She uses a combination of SendOutCards, Pro Power and Sharper Agent to accomplish the goal.
Like service subscriptions automating allows you to skip at step. For example many bloggers compile their email newsletters by hand to highlighting their monthly blog posts. Some email services can pull blog posts directly from your website and send them after being added to the website cutting their task in half. Susan explained, “Auto scheduler’s are a time saver. We use HootSuite to schedule automatic posts daily, weekly, etc, like our party reminders.”
Auto appointment reminders can be sent from your online calendar software. Or like My eye doctor, Shelly Williams, owner of Williams and Associates Eye Care, you can add appointment reminders to the check in process. Her front desk staff have me address my own reminder cards for my next visit when I check in so they’re ready to send when scheduled.
I feel like I preach about scheduling social media, email and blog posts to my clients. “I had known scheduling was an option on Facebook and in my blog for a while but just recently started using these features. Man, what a time saver.” Shared Dan, “It really takes the mental pressure off that I “should” really post something this day/week/hour/minute and know that I have a content stream flowing that I just keep adding to the back end so if I can’t get to it for a couple of weeks it doesn’t mean the world hasn’t heard from us during that time.”
Small business owners are creative to the core, even when carving out the time to make their marketing easier. It all comes down to finding a system that works for you and sticking with it. Then you can review your outcomes and enjoy the business you bring in!