Avoid Getting Overwhelmed by Marketing
Rachel Klaver, a marketing strategist, specializing in lead generation and content marketing shares her insights into how small business owners can stay focused on their marketing goals.
As the number of people on social media increases, using online platforms to reach consumers is a growing trend for brands around the world.
OPINION: I don’t think I’ve met a business owner yet who hasn’t felt overwhelmed when it comes to marketing. Including myself.
I quite often find the whole job, on top of my “real” job of working with our clients, and helping our team feels a little bit too much. Like many business owners, for a long time I tried to do our marketing in the extra time of evenings, weekends and lunch breaks, instead of counting it as an essential part of our work.
I’ve still not mastered the art of never feeling overwhelmed, but I’ve found there are several steps I take for myself and my clients that work well.
Work out if it’s marketing that’s the problem
Being a small business owner can mean you are juggling a pile of balls that move all over the place as soon as they leave your hands.
We’ve worked with business owners who are trying to run a business while also dealing with huge personal or family concerns.
There have been issues with staffing, managing rapid growth, or just trying to ensure you’ve got enough to cover your rent for the month.
Sometimes the owner is on the precipice of burnout and everything is suffering
While I’m always going to be a cheerleader for marketing, sometimes there are more important factors at play.
My recommendation is to step back – and recognize you are making a conscious decision to do so – from all the marketing you could be doing, and give yourself a timeline to come back into it.
Accept it’s for the long game
Consistent marketing over a long period of time can make your sales process far easier. Once it starts to work, the results from it feels effortless. But that feeling comes from a lot of time, patience and sticking to your plan.
We normally say it’s at least six weeks before you’ll see any results from a new marketing activity. This can feel like an age when you are taking time away from quick fixes such as jumping on a pile of cold calls, or turning up at a market.
When you are focussed on urgent tasks, marketing is going to struggle to give you the results you need.
Book the time in your diary
If it’s not in your diary, it’s going to be happening after hours – if it happens at all.
In terms of time, I normally say four hours per week is about right for your marketing as a solopreneur. When you start it may be a lot more, but you can get a lot done in four hours a week. A block of time can help you create content in batches and help you work in advance.
If you have a bigger team, I normally calculate it out as four hours per full time employee. It’s not a perfect science but helps you work out capacity. I haven’t included time engaging with replies on social media posts which can also take time every day
Keep it sustainable
I love the new challenge of jumping into activity. Keeping it going however, that’s a different story!
It’s better to start at a pace you can maintain and commit yourself to a small amount of marketing, and then, once this starts feeling automatic and easy, add on something else.
I often say “it’s better to be consistently average than sporadically brilliant”
Your business will benefit from having your marketing show up over a period of time, helping people remember you.
So often I work with business owners who’ll email their list three or four times in a month, forget to get back to it for eight months, do a few more emails, then forget again.
If you’re learning a new skill, break it down into simple steps to build a habit. For instance, if you’re wanting to use Linkedin, set up your profile, and then use two to three weeks to just get into the practice of logging into the app every day and connecting to others. Read a few posts and then log out.
Then for the next few weeks begin to comment on other peoples posts, then when that feels comfortable, start posting once, then twice and up to as much as every day as you get used to it.
It’s all about keeping it manageable and seeing growth over time
Avoid shiny object syndrome
I am a sucker for shiny objects in marketing. I have learned to take a little look at it and then ask myself:
“Is this something that adds to my current plan?”
“Is this something my clients will use?”
“Is this something I need right now?”
I was incredibly attracted to Clubhouse when it came out earlier this year.
But to use it properly would have meant sucking up time that was best used elsewhere. My clients don’t use it and weren’t interested in it. To top it all off, I realised it was my ego wanting to be on it, more than my need to serve my business. So I stepped away.
Did I miss out? Maybe. But it didn’t pass the test of being a fit, so I moved past it.
Stop looking at your competitors
I often remind my clients that they can not be expected to have the same levels of output as me when doing their own marketing. I’ve been a content writer for more than 20 years. I work as a marketer so I’m always in that space, and I’ve got others in my team who help with design, some writing, and the admin of marketing.
You don’t know what help others are getting to help all of their marketing happening. They may have more time because they are less busy than you are, or because they’re opting to sacrifice sleep.
Focus on what you are doing, and stop looking over your shoulder.
Restrict your information sources
I’m very careful to check who I follow and read online. I’m constantly learning and developing my knowledge and skills, and following other marketers and writers. I make sure they have similar values to mine, and check I’m following people that are recognised leaders in their space.
Often the content I read is American, and needs to be Kiwi-fied for our specific needs, and I’ll spend time fact checking, or going directly to the source. I have to do this as I’m often advising our clients of updates. That is part of my “proper work”
However it’s important for you to get advice and help, too.
One of the ways we can get overwhelmed is by taking in too much conflicting information and not having time to work out what’s the best fit for your business.
It’s common to see people asking questions like “What’s a great CRM?” or “How do I advertise my business?” online, and watch people kindly jumping in to answer with something that has worked for them, but might not fit the business owner who asked
If you are going to use Facebook groups to get help and support, take time to write a detailed breakdown of your type of business, the stage of your business, and what outcomes you need before getting answers. It’s also a good idea to ask people why they’d recommend it.
Choose someone who you relate to, and understand. There are marketers out there who I find easy to relate to, and others who make me feel anxious. Guess which ones I follow and subscribe to?
I asked the people in our Facebook group what advice they’d give to someone who felt overwhelmed by information overload. Heather Carrigan who owns Flax Floristry School suggested choosing only one or two people at a time to learn from. You don’t need to stick with them permanently, but find someone you trust and commit to just listening to them for a month, and applying their information
Prepare to outsource
Getting extra help makes it easier. We recommend putting aside money for help for three months before taking on anyone, and starting with a marketing virtual assistant to help with the admin side of marketing, such as posting content.
As you grow, you can use team members and external help to keep it all going, working up to having an in-house marketing manager whose job is to focus on marketing alone.
Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist, specializing in lead generation and content marketing. She owns Identify Marketing, which works with businesses to create the strategy they need to tell their story better to the right people. Identify Marketing is a content partner with Stuff for specialist small business information. Find Rachel’s events here.
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