As a small business owner you have to assume many roles, from the chief marketing officer to the VP of Janitorial Services (e.g., cleaning the bathrooms). With so much on your plate it can be difficult to find time to do what is probably the most important activity for your business, marketing.
If you’re not an experienced marketer, which most first-time business owners aren't, you may find it overwhelming to keep up with the never-ending need to market your business. Taking time to research and plan your marketing activities can be difficult when you have dozens of other things to do during the course of the day, but you must spend the necessary time to plan and implement your marketing strategy if you want your business to grow. No matter how great your product or service is, it doesn't matter if people don't know about it.
Break Your Marketing Down Into Actionable Steps
Just the thought of creating a marketing campaign would make many small business owners cringe, the key is to break down your marketing activities (or anything really) into bite-sized action steps that you can complete in a short amount of time. By breaking down your marketing activities into smaller steps, it allows you to take action more often, without having to wait until you have a large block time.
Whenever I have something important I need to get done, I like to create a mini-project out of it. If you simply write down something like, “write a blog post”on your to do list, it might not get done. Why? Because writing a blog post requires several activities to be performed in order to create a new blog post. The key is breaking down all of those activities in order and gathering all of the necessary resources you will need for the project beforehand. The method I use is based on the book, “Making Ideas Happen”.
While most of my life is digital, there are some things where I still prefer a paper and pen, and a to-do list is one of those things. If you prefer digital, there are several online applications that can help manage prjects, the one I use and highly recommend is called Trello. It's simple to use, it's free and it kind of feels like you are using index cards on a corkboard, which I also love.
What I use is a simple folder to hold any notes or information I might need and paper clip a sheet of paper on the front of it that breaks down all of the activities I need to do in order to complete my project, which in this case is creating a new blog post. See the image below for an example (you can download a PDF of the sheet I use below)
Create a List of Marketing Opportunities
Make a list of all the available marketing opportunities you would like to pursue. Hopefully, you can get this information from your marketing plan. If you do not have a marketing plan in place yet, just make a list of marketing opportunities. You may have been meaning to place an ad in the local paper or to create a new Facebook advertising campaign, list out everything on a sheet of paper or on your computer.
Turn Each Marketing Activity Into Its Own Project
I personally love the Action Method by Behance, where you turn everything you need to accomplish into mini-projects that lets you break anything down into simple action steps.
Using a sheet of paper, do the following:
- Write down the marketing activity you would like to take action on
- Write out all of the steps necessary to make it happen, in sequential order
- Gather necessary information and resources that will be needed and put them in your folder
- Keep all of your resources together for reference. You can print your resources and place them in a folder or add the reference links to your computer document.
Now that you have each marketing activity written down with its own action steps, you are ready to take action. Starting with the most important marketing activity, simply take one action step at a time until the project is completed. Don't feel the need to wait until you have enough time to finish all of the steps, do one at a time and continue when you have the opportunity. For example, if the project you have has four steps and you think completing all of them will take two hours, start with only the first step which may only take twenty minutes and continue to step two when you have more time. If you do a little bit at a time you will keep moving forward until the project is complete.
Below is a sample of a project created for placing an ad on Facebook To Drive Traffic To Your Website
- Read the tutorial on Facebook on how to create a Facebook ad (15 min)
- Read three articles like this one on Facebook advertising (20 min)
- Create a profile for the type of customer I will be targeting (20 min)
- Sign up for Facebook advertising (10 min)
- Determine the budget that will be allocated to campaign (10 min)
- Write out 3 versions of my ad and gather images for each ad (60 min)
- Create each ad and start campaign ( 15 min)
As you can see, I took a project that was going to take me approximately 2 1/2 hours and broke it down into seven smaller steps that can be completed one at a time, without having to continue on to the next step if time does not allow. It may take you a month to set aside 2 1/2 hours, but you may be able to start tomorrow if you only need fifteen minutes to complete a single step.
As you can see, it's really a simple system, but it works. This method not only applies to your marketing activities but to any tasks that will require time to complete. There is also the satisfaction of crossing off each step as you complete them, getting you ever closer to your goal.