Many small business owners understand the importance of marketing – attracting new customers, keeping existing happy and raising your profile – but just like bookkeeping or finding ideal additions for your team, some marketing tasks can be real time thieves. Here are the biggest challenges for your time management and how to get rid of them!
Stop Wasting Time
For small businesses with small teams and small budgets, time is an important resource. Stop wasting it on tasks that can easily be reduced with a sound routine and a little discipline.
In general, we lose time on tasks we don’t like or are not exceptionally good at (or both). One solution is to get someone else to do it (ideally someone who enjoys the task, because then they’re probably better at it, too).
And don’t start micromanaging people – when outsourcing, you’ve hired somebody for their skills (ones you don’t have yourself), so let them do their job. They know what they’re doing.
The main thing that makes you more productive is your focus. Concentrate on your goals and what you want to achieve, and stick with it. Remind yourself of that every time you go off on a tangent.
1. Social Media Marketing
Finding out what people are saying on LinkedIn, replying to Facebook comments and thanking followers for retweeting you – social media takes up a lot of time. It’s so easy to get sidetracked when you’re trying to engage with your followers and attract new ones every day.
Plus, you’re always hunting for new content to share with your audience, prove that you’re worth following and know what you’re talking about. One thing is for sure: Making the best of the opportunities social media creates for your small business takes time, patience and consistency.
Social media is worth it and doesn’t have to be a full-time job. If you find yourself lost in the myriad of updates, set specific times to read your Twitter feed and catch up on Facebook posts, and keep to it.
Use downtime to catch up on social media, for example when on the bus or waiting for a meeting to start. Set up notifications so you know exactly when somebody replied to your post, shared it or sent you a direct message. You can easily mute them when you’re focusing on a project.
Spare time is also perfect to check the web for content. Collect relevant blogs and websites in one place (for example an RSS reader like feedly) to find and bookmark relevant links to share later.
My editorial calendar saves me the most time; I know the best times to post my content, to engage with followers and can make sure content is evenly spread out and a nice mix of information, promotion and entertainment (find out more about the ideal content mix for social media).
- Use downtime, and/or set specific times, to check on your social media
- Set up alerts for when someone interacts with you
- Use an editorial calendar to reduce content scheduling time
- Establish a content curation routine to save shareable content for later
- Tip: Use the same routine to find content for your newsletter
While blogging is beneficial for small businesses (Not convinced? Read this), it’s also time-consuming. Having a blog strategy helps you define who you’re writing for and what topics are relevant to your audience.
But finding something that potential customers want to read about on a weekly basis can be tough, as can the writing and formatting of the post. Then there’s proofreading, adding images and optimising your posts for search engines, not to mention sharing your content on social media and with (potential) customers.
Since starting my own small business marketing blog, I’m never without a notepad. Whether I have spare time between meetings or just had an interesting discussion with fellow business owners – as soon as I have an idea for a blog post, I write it down.
Find inspiration for your next post by listening to your audience. Talk to your target group whenever you can or find out what their challenges are. Websites like Quora or special interest internet forums are perfect for that! And there’s always free services like Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator or the Portent Content Idea Generator.
There’s also free apps to help you with the actual writing of the post, such as the grammar check service Grammarly, the Hemingway App to improve your writing and the Blog Post Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule.
To reduce the time you spend spreading the word about your latest post and sharing it, add them to your editorial calendar for your social media channels. This way you always know the best time to post and when best to re-post, to maximise reach and impact.
- Always carry your notepad with you to write down ideas for blog posts
- Use networking events, conferences and internet forums to find out what your target group’s challenges are
- Use free apps to improve your writing
- Add blog posts as content in your editorial calendar
- Tip: Plan your blog posts in advance to avoid writer’s block
3. Networking & Meetings
As important (and fun) as it is to make new contacts and catch up with fellow small business owners and freelancers, it takes time.
As well as the event itself, there’s travelling there and back, following up afterwards or arranging meetings to discuss things further. And, as we all know, they’re a really good excuse if you have a pile of work waiting for you.
Networking with potential customers is very important for small businesses, but it’s often the first thing we skip when things get busy. And then we might end up not being busy at all.
There’s nothing you can do about the commute to an event or meeting. That’s why I use the time on the bus or train to work: Checking social media, looking for new content to share or brainstorming ideas for my next blog post makes the downtime a lot more productive.
Plan ahead and consider each event and meeting carefully before committing to it. We can’t always know if an event is worth attending beforehand, but try to avoid ones that won’t have many potential customers attending or are not well organised enough for you to really benefit.
When you’re at an event, be pro-active. If possible, look at the attendees or exhibitors beforehand and identify people you would like to talk to. Be aware of your goals for the event, focus on them and set yourself a time frame, especially for meetings which can drag out quite easily.
Also, make sure to plan your work for the day (realistically), including the time it takes you to follow up and connect with people after the event. Don’t try to make up for lost time by overloading yourself with work. It’ll only make you less productive – and cost you even more time in the process.
- Use your commute to get work done
- Make sure the events & meetings are worth going
- Do your research & actively target potential clients
- Set a time frame for the meeting or event & keep to it
- Plan your work for the day realistically & factor in time for follow-ups
WANT TO READ MORE?
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
How to Create an Editorial Calendar for Your Social Media Success
Lessons I’ve Learned in 5 Years of Business Networking
5 Steps to Get More From Your Marketing – in Less Time
How to Save Time on a Daily Basis