We are the change

Are you wasting your marketing time?

Last night, I was running my email marketing workshop for Merton Chamber of Commerce and one of the delegates asked me “If I only have an hour a day, what should I spending my time on”. And it got me thinking…

The mistake that many small business owners make, when they are marketing their business, is spreading themselves too thinly when it comes to marketing.  They run around paddling like mad, doing this and that and not really looking at whether their activity is generating results or if it is the right activity for them to be spending their time on (this can be very easily done when social media is part of your marketing mix!).

Should you be doing email marketing? Blogging? Facebook anyone? Twitter? LinkedIn? Networking? PR?  The list of marketing activities seems endless and the simple answer on where you should be spending your time, is … Do what works!

After my daughter Zoe was born in 2007 (before the birth of Women Unlimited), I was running my small digital design agency as a part time business from home.   I decided that I wanted to scale up my business and that I wanted to be working smarter, not harder.  So I looked over the last 3 years of running my business and evaluated where all the prospects and clients had come from.    In truth, it wasn’t a long exercise as, over that period of time, I had only had about 20 clients but as my service offering was a high value one targeted at a high income group (consultancies), this had given me a fantastic part-time income.

Word of mouth referrals

What I discovered was that ALL of my clients had come from word of mouth referral.  Every single one.  I had a website, but that website had not brought in a single new piece of business, it was a showcase and proof that I existed for those that wanted to check me out, but not a sales tool.    So the answer to ‘where I should be spending my time to get new clients’, was pretty obvious to me… I needed to be focusing on my existing clients and getting referrals from them, and building up a network of people who would refer me to others.  The next step was  joining my local BNI Chapter to build up new relationships and I can honestly say that joining BNI changed my business life forever, but that’s another story (one you will hear if you come along to either our Farringdon or British Library, Women Unlimited business club launch … ).

Women Unlimited’s favourite marketing channel

With Women Unlimited my main marketing channel is online versus face to face.  The two key areas that I spend my marketing time are in social media to build awareness and email marketing to sell our events and workshops.  Email marketing is hands down my most successful marketing activity.  80% of all our workshop and event sales come through the newsletter and event emails that we send out.  And I would say that 80% of the relationship that I have with Women Unlimited readers comes from our emails.  Could I be doing other things?  Absolutely! And I am trying new things all the time, however I cannot imagine a time where email marketing will not be our central marketing activity.  Why?  Because it works.

Where should you be spending your time?

Only you can answer this, but I suggest completing a similar exercise to the one that I did for Springmedia and Women Unlimited.  Sit down and look at where your business is coming from.  Ask yourself the following questions…

1. Where have my last 10 (or 100!) clients come from?

2. How easy were these sales?

3. What did I do to facilitate these sales?

4. How much did these sales cost in time or money?

5. Was the level of sales worth the effort?

6. What should I be doing less of?

7. What should I be doing more of!

How are you spending your time?

1. What marketing activities am I doing every day / every week

2. How effective are those activities against my business goals (sales, contacts, referrals, filling the pipeline)

3. What activities am I doing that I am not able to measure the results

Look at the results

Now, compare your two lists.

Don’t over complicate this.  Draw up a spreadsheet that answers these questions and be honest with yourself to determine whether the time that you are spending on your marketing activity is worth the effort and generating the results that you want.  Measurement is an important part of succeeding in business, so if you are not able to measure the return on your marketing investment, time or money, then revisit the activity and find a way or tracking the results.

It is likely that you will find one or two winners in your marketing mix.  These will stand out as being the activities that generate the most results for your business.   If you are wanting to take your business to the next level think about how you can scale those activities so that they will bring in more business.  What could you be doing to increase their effectiveness.  Think smart, not hard.

Next week we will look at how to up your marketing game in more detail.


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Sue Oliver says

    Wise words Julie. Yes, I admit I have fallen into this trap in the past. We need to plan a targeted strategy, not take a scattergun approach. Thanks for practical tips; so helpful, as ever!

  2. Julie Hall - Editor says

    Thanks Sue! I had to find this out the hard way too – it’s very easy to follow the new sexy thing, but if this comes at the cost of not spending time on the stuff that is already working for us, we need to think carefully about whether it is the best use of our time.

  3. Daria Taylor says

    I couldn’t have agreed more, I really love reading your articles Julie because they are very straight forward and something every small business owner or an entrepreneur can relate to!

    Marketing is on of the things every business need to do and if done wrong it can be a very costly mistake. I always think it’s better to take more time to prepare and get to know your target market then just run endless marketing campaigns with very little knowledge about what your customers need or want!