Written by: Michael McLaughlin | MindShare Consulting
If you’re like a lot of consultants, your plate is full. Very full.
You’ve got projects to run, a business to manage, and a personal life. Sometimes, there’s just not enough time in the day.
The natural reaction to the stress of being overloaded is to put off something on your to-do list. When you get too busy, you sort through your priorities and often it’s your marketing activities that you put on the back burner.
Why? Because it’s an easy thing to put on hold. You can convince yourself that publishing that article later than planned won’t hurt anything. Or you promise yourself that you will rework your web presence next month.
You can convince yourself that publishing that article later than planned won’t hurt anything.
If the reason you feel forced to pull back on marketing is because you have too much client work to do, that’s not a bad problem to have.
But the short-term gain from your client work, no matter how good it is, can put your business in a deep hole once that work slows up.
And that’s a problem you don’t want to have.
No doubt, you know it’s a mistake to let your marketing activities slip.
But to underscore the point, I’m going to use the business writer’s rule of social proof. When in doubt, roll out Peter Drucker.
Drucker summed up his take on marketing this way:
“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation.”
Even though you understand the long-term implications of setting aside your marketing program, you may feel that’s your only option. So you resolve to put your head down, get the client work done, and ramp up your marketing as soon as things settle down.
Even though you understand the long-term implications of setting aside your marketing program, you may feel that’s your only option.
Fortunately, you do have another choice.
Think about the options you have for marketing your business. You have the big, long-term, strategic marketing initiatives—adding a new service line, overhauling your web site, or launching a new blog, for example.
Then you have the less complex, less time-consuming marketing tactics, like asking clients for testimonials, planning a referral strategy, or making contact with your existing and former clients to see how they’re doing.
If something has to give in your marketing plan because of your other commitments, it’s best to postpone (but not abandon) the huge projects, that is, those that take the most of your time, energy, and attention.
But you shouldn’t give up on marketing entirely. Instead, you want to shift your focus from the long-term initiatives to the short-term ones.
So, what should you do?
The One-Hour Marketing Plan
When you’re swamped with other priorities, think small.
You can find lots of marketing tactics that will make an impact, don’t take much time, and don’t cost much.
Even the busiest person can find an hour a week to keep the marketing flame alive.
Think about tackling one small marketing activity every week. Commit to one hour of marketing, no matter how busy you are. Even the busiest person can find an hour a week to keep the marketing flame alive.
If you can do one thing every week, the results will add up quickly. Plus, you’ll get rid of that uneasy feeling that you’re not doing what you really should be.
To get rolling with your one-hour marketing plan, begin with a question: What short-term marketing activities could you do right away that would only take an hour or so a week?
You don’t want to do just anything. It wouldn’t make sense, for instance, to start writing a book and plan to get it done in an hour a week.
The idea is to take actions that keep you (and your ideas) in front of existing or former clients. Why? Because the marketing effort for these activities is low but the benefit can be high.
The idea is to take actions that keep you (and your ideas) in front of existing or former clients.
For example, you could commit to making one call a week to a previous client to ask for a testimonial. If you did that for four weeks, you’d have four new testimonials, you’d have caught up with four former clients, and you’d be maintaining your marketing momentum.
If asking for testimonials isn’t your thing, you could check in with one former client per week to rekindle the relationship. Naturally, you’ve got to have something interesting to say before you make contact. But you shouldn’t need more than an hour to find something of value to serve as a conversation starter.
You have many low-cost, simple marketing options. You can take a former or existing client to lunch, do some limited industry research and share it with your network, or prepare a plan for asking past clients for referrals.
Everyone can come up with a few small marketing ideas. In fact, your first one could be to make an eight-week plan for the one-hour things you’ll do over the next two months.
Remember, I’m talking about what to do when you feel that you have no choice but to temporarily put the brakes on marketing. This is a suboptimal, interim solution, not a long-term approach to marketing.
This is a suboptimal, interim solution, not a long-term approach to marketing.
If you ignore the long-term, your growth prospects dim. So focus on these short-term activities for a couple of months at the most. Then, you have to restart your main marketing initiatives.
Though it seems less than ideal, taking small steps will maintain your marketing momentum, make it easier to get your marketing program back on track once you have more time, and you won’t feel like you’re ignoring what Peter Drucker said is the most important part of any business.
What’s on your one-hour marketing list?
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