Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Time-Management Strategies: 6 Keys to Small Business Success

As the saying goes, “We all have just 24 hours a day.”
How are you supposed to get the kids to school, put in your 8 hour work day, pay the bills, clean the house, make dinner, and actually get a good night’s sleep?

And to top it off, squeeze in time for marketing as well? It may seem impossible .
But, here’s the deal, if you want to get the word out about your small business, then you can’t throw your hands up in the air because you don’t have the time.

Believe me, you need to make time for marketing.

Like most things in life, it’s easier said than done.

But, along the way, I’ve picked up a few time-management strategies that have helped me balance all of my varying marketing platforms (without going too crazy)!
Here are 5 marketing time-management strategies to help you work smarter, faster, and more efficiently:

1. Focus on your marketing strengths.

Marketing is simply about finding ways to effectively communicate with your prospects and customers.

And, at the end of the day, there are only 4 ways that you can communicate your marketing message to your audience:
  1. You can write to them.
  2. You can talk to them.
  3. You can create a video for them.
  4. You can create a picture or graphic for them.

Most small business owners are naturally drawn to 1 or 2 communication methods.
If you love to write, then create blog posts, write articles, and craft press releases.
On the other hand, if writing makes you cringe, perhaps you’d prefer to talk to your prospects.
You could host teleseminars, create podcasts, or attend networking events. It’s not so important which way you choose to communicate with your prospects. The important factor is to focus on your communication strength.

2. Choose your marketing platforms.

Once you’ve identified your marketing method, (how you will communicate to your prospects) decide on how you will bring your communications to your target market.
In other words, which marketing platforms will you use to get the word out about your small business? Of course, there are thousands of marketing platforms from which to choose.

To get the most bang for your buck, you’re interested in 3 factors:
  1. Free marketing platforms.
  2. Platforms that your target market uses.
  3. No more than 5 platforms to start.

Obviously, your marketing platforms should be free and a place where your audience is involved. But, in addition, it’s important to narrow your focus and become incredibly proficient on just 5 platforms.

These platforms could include: blog posts, press release distribution sites, social media sites, video sharing sites, or graphic sharing sites.

Pick 5 platforms and master those first. You’ll never succeed if you try to become a “Jack of all Trades, Master of None.”

You can always add more platforms once you become proficient on your first 5.

3. Create a small business time-management plan.

Most small business owners understand the importance of a marketing plan.

But, did you know that you should also have a small business time-management plan?

If your plan is to “start marketing” without any sense of how much time you will devote, you’re destined for extreme non-productivity.

Once you select your communication method and your marketing platforms, determine exactly how much time you will devote to each of them on a daily basis.

As an example, if you’re able to devote 2 hours a day to your marketing efforts, you may decide to spend 1 hour on creating content and 1 hour on distributing your content across 5 marketing platforms.

4. Repurpose your content.

If you’re creating brand new content every day, you’re not being very savvy when it comes to time-management.

Let’s imagine that you’re using the following small business marketing platforms to get the word out about your small business: blogging, video marketing, podcasting, social media marketing, and press release distribution.

Here’s a great time-management strategy:

On Monday, create “brand new” content. For instance, write a blog post and post it to your blog. The remainder of the week you tweak the blog post to meet the requirements of your remaining 4 marketing platforms.
  • Tuesday, create a video based on the blog post.
  • Wednesday, create a podcast based on the blog post.
  • Thursday, rework the blog post into a press release and distribute it.
  • Throughout the week post to your social networks with links pointing back to your content.

5. Use a timer.

This tip might sound a little silly, but it works for some crazy reason.
Plus, it’s based on a study from Princeton.

The study states that you should “think of your day in terms of time, not the tasks you have to do. It’s hard to predict how long a task will take, so it’s hard to schedule with great precision. But you can reliably schedule regular intervals of time and get into a routine.”
Here’s a simple 3 step formula to focus on time vs. task:
  1. Decide exactly how long you will spend on a marketing activity.
  2. Set a timer and get writing.
  3. Once the timer beeps, you’re done writing (even if you’re not finished).
A fantastic (and free) online timer to download to your computer is Toggl.

6. Track what works, and focus your marketing efforts there.

Many small business owners don’t take the time to effectively track the results from their free marketing platforms.

That’s a huge mistake. You might not be spending money, but you’re certainly spending time.
There are many ways to evaluate if your marketing is working for you. One simple, free tool is ClickMeter, a link tracking service. It tracks how many clicks and conversions your marketing platforms are producing for you.

You may be surprised to find out that Twitter doesn’t do a thing for your small business while LinkedIn brings you dozens of leads a day.

Eliminate the marketing platforms that aren’t working, and focus on those that are bringing you results.

Once you’ve implemented a few time-management strategies, you may suddenly feel like there are 36 hours in your day!

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