Guest Post by Simon Ensor, Managing Director of Yellowball
For the vast majority of us (including myself) it appears that it is in our nature to want to complete tasks that have a more immediate deadline, compared with tasks that have an ambiguous deadline. A prime example in a small business would be prioritising administrative emails over scheduled marketing time because it ‘has to get done’. John provided multiple points on “How to Make Time for Marketing”, I wanted to embellish on some of the points and also lend persuasion as to why making time for marketing is such a critical process.
Note: I am going to specifically focus on inbound marketing, not only due to the fact that it is an area in which my expertise is most developed, but also because inbound marketing tasks are usually the ones that sink quickest to the bottom of the metaphorical priority task list!
Why is everyone obsessed with inbound marketing?
There has been a fundamental shift in the way that companies market themselves. Prior to Web 2.0 (and indeed the internet) most marketing was interruptive, that is to say that companies would proactively interrupt your day in order to sell their wares to you whether this be by phone or advert. The internet has completely switched this, giving much of the purchasing power to the consumer. The consumer now has the ability to compare and contrast products and services without ever having to speak to a salesperson, usually sitting on their sofa with an iPad. As a result, marketing practices have had to adapt to this power switch and now look to attract consumers through inbound marketing.
Furthermore, when inbound marketing works it can genuinely transform a business. Trust me – I have experienced it first hand through ranking on Google as a direct result of SEO work conducted on our site. This is especially poignant for startups or small businesses where sales volume is essential for maintaining cash flow; without sales there simply is no business. Many small businesses have no choice but to spend countless hours proactively sourcing leads, contacting, persuading and pitching to them in order to generate sales. Inbound marketing is slightly different and has a delayed fuse. You have to graft very hard to beat an initial inertia and in reality you are unlikely to see results for months. However, once your inbound has reached a point where your ranking on Google is providing targeted traffic, your social media has enough influence to result in enquiries and your website’s conversion rate is high, the incoming enquiries start to flow in. These incoming leads are then far warmer than leads that you proactively create and as a result your conversion rate is higher. These incoming leads also free up time that would have been spent on business development for other business critical tasks. The holy grail is getting to the point where you do not have to proactively hunt for new business.
The real problem lies in the fact that small businesses are manic environments. Cash flow is directly affected by sales activity, so why would you risk cash flow (and therefore your business) for something that will take months to deliver results? In short, it is a balancing act, but in the long term it is a balancing act worth spending the time on.
So how do I find the time?
1. If you don’t have time now, you never will.
If you are still not persuaded, think of it like this: if you cannot justify allocating time to marketing now, how will you do so when your business has more projects or products, more clients, more employees and more issues to manage? The fact is that it takes a concerted effort not only to begin, but also to make it cultural as a fundamental aspect of your daily, weekly or monthly schedule.
2. Get started, be the motivator
Without sparking outrage amongst business owners working 60 hour+ weeks – it will probably require a late night at the office to set everything up and to develop an initial strategy. However, if you get this created and stick to it, your employees are much more likely to fall in line which will enable you to make the most of point 5. One of the main issues with starting any business is making that first step, the same is true with marketing. Break it down into incremental steps and get going!
3. Be militant about your schedule
Scheduling time in your busy day is essential for creating or allocating time to marketing, but it is worthless if you do not stick to this schedule. Be militant about blocking out this time and not scheduling calls, meetings or other work to take place during it. We all know there are a whole swathe of tasks that you could be doing other than marketing, so make sure that you don’t start creating excuses.
4. Be realistic and have faith
Many facets of marketing and branding do not result in overnight success, especially inbound. Be realistic with yourself about timeframes to avoid becoming disillusioned with the process, if you are investing time in creating a high quality marketing campaign it will eventually pay dividends that can transform how your business operates.
5. Educate and delegate, but don’t dump
Not all marketing tasks require individuals to have a degree in marketing and communication. The fact is that your team are a fantastic resource for knowledge, ideas, inspiration and additional man hours. It is essential to educate your team as to why marketing is so imperative because you will be delegating tasks to them that might fall outside the remit of their day to day job. In addition to this it is critical that you delegate relevant tasks to team members rather than dumping irrelevant tasks on them simply because you are not finding the time. Whilst there may be occasions when you have no choice, do it too many times and this can affect the morale of your team. Motivate your team by assigning tasks that interest them and help them understand how critical they are to the business.
Guest Post by Simon Ensor of Yellowball
Simon Ensor is Managing Director of award-winning creative consultants Yellowball, who work with market-leading brands throughout London and the South-East of England across a wide range of business sectors including education, retail, the service industry, internet startups, construction and the public sector. Their expertise spans the entire marketing mix, from brand building, design and publishing to web development, social media and consultancy. Simon is an SEO expert having worked with companies ranging from small businesses through to major blue chips and governments. Tailoring bespoke campaigns, consulting and ensuring that all aspects are covered without fail are core factors in the success he has brought to numerous accounts over the years. You can contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter via @simon_ensor