There are many ways to invest in your business. You can take classes, attend seminars, buy books, and even hire someone like me. But that isn’t enough. If you aren’t also making a real commitment to working on marketing your business, you won’t get very far.
You can outsource your social media, your SEO, your website design, and your content development – but if you aren’t involved in the process, as much as you can be, then your marketing becomes generic and less “you”. There are already plenty of generic websites in the world. Your people are looking for you to be yourself – because that is who they will connect to through your business.
Yes, I know. You have a to-do that is long and growing every day. I understand. But regularly committing time to the marketing side of your business keeps you thinking about it, and the more you think about it, the more likely you are to take action. Sometimes marketing ourselves and talking about our work feels awkward. We’re waiting for someone to jump out and say “Ugh! Why are you talking about this?” Do it anyway. I promise, it will get less awkward.
A very smart, very busy client of mine said “I have ten minutes, what can I do in ten minutes?”. At first, it sounded impossible, but I love impossible puzzles and lists, so here is my list of ten minute marketing hacks:
1) Connect with new people and pages on social media. Notice I didn’t just say “follow new people”. Social media is all about connecting and interacting. So get out there and make new friends!
2) Read over your website. Depending on when it was last updated, you might have old information online. Or maybe you’ve expanded your business or changed your direction a little bit. Your website is an online reflection of your business, so make sure it is accurate and up to date.
3) Click around your website. Pages change and links stop working. A new visitor to your site is looking for an easy, stress-free experience. Dead links and missing pages will help them decide to go elsewhere.
4) Reuse previous social media posts. Did you post a link to something brilliant two months ago? Do you still think it is brilliant and useful? Then create a new post for it. Social media moves fast (really fast) and a post from two months ago might as well be two years old.
5) Read that cool sounding marketing article you’ve been meaning to read. We all have a hidden stash of things we know we want to read. Take ten minutes and read it. If it is valuable, make notes.
6) Look at a competitor’s site. What are they doing well? What aren’t they doing well? Would you use them based on what your experience with their site? Now look at your site - does it measure up to what you want from a website experience?
7) Sketch out an idea for a blog post. Set a timer and write for ten minutes with no distractions. Most of us can’t write a blog post in ten minutes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take baby steps.
8) Talk about your business. Don’t be obnoxious, but if people don’t know what you do, then how can they call on you when they need your service?
9) Brainstorm – where are you now? Where to you want to go? Ten minutes, a timer, and keep the pen moving. Scribble, draw arrows, circle things, and get messy. Once you get the “we can’t possibly do that!” side of your brain to disengage, you can uncover some clever, if off-the-wall, ideas.
10) Now take one of those ideas and try it out.
11) Organize your computer files. Put all of your marketing materials (photos, gifs, style sheets, etc) in one folder. Create a folder for blog post ideas so you have a place for your ideas. Set a timer and do it for ten minutes.
12) Really look at your customer service. Are you customers being served in the best possible way every time? How can you improve it?
13) Back up and update your website. Do you really want to start from scratch if it all goes away? Nope! Back it up and keep it updated.
14) Go for a walk. Get away from work and clear your head. Changing your environment can change the way you think about things.
15) Teamwork and networking (in the helpful way, not the slimy way) is a fantastic way to increase your reach and partner with another business. Make a list of possible businesses that would be a good fit with your business.
16) Now reach out to them.
17) If your work email is full of junk email, take ten minutes and clean it up. You can use a service like unroll.me. A clean inbox means you won’t be searching for anyone’s email. And, more importantly, emails won’t get lost or buried.
18) And speaking of email, do you need to respond to or follow up with anything? Take ten minutes and reach out to people who contacted you, but never followed through. Don’t assume that an unanswered email means a lack of interest – sometimes emails get lost, misdirected, or the person on the other meant to respond, but didn’t.
19) Take a good look at your to-do list. Can you outsource anything? Combine it with something else? Move it off the critical list? Move it onto the critical list?
These are small steps and I can’t promise any single one will turn your business around and land you on the cover of Forbes magazine. But, daily tasks do add up and they do make a difference.
Musings about marketing, social media, and small business.