When it comes to promotion, the two biggest problems for most small business owners are effective planning and maintaining a consistent marketing effort. After what seems like a lot of effort attempting to drum up new business, it’s easy to get discouraged when you aren’t seeing results. But with the right lead generation plan and some helpful tools, you’ll find your efforts will pay dividends.
Set Up Your Plan
First, you have to take the time to carefully consider your options for marketing and promoting your business, rather than just taking a scattergun approach.
There are many possible tactics for finding new clients and customers, but if you try to do everything, you’ll end up spreading yourself too thin. That said, during the evaluation phase, you should throw out every possibility, carefully weighing the pros and cons of each. Then, after you’ve evaluated them, select the tactics most likely to lead to success for your particular business, taking into account your personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as your available resources.
Laying out all the possibilities using a tool like Bubbl.us also keeps the process from getting overwhelming. You can easily add every marketing and promotional tactic, while still keeping a big-picture view of how it all works together.
Once you have all of the possibilities listed, take the time to consider each one. When you decide you want to eliminate a tactic, it’s very easy to delete the option, leaving you with a clean plan of attack.
Maintain Consistent Marketing Effort
The other half of the marketing equation is consistency. You have to do the same things over and over in order to see results. The main obstacle to consistency is the lack of systems and tools to keep you organized.
It’s easy to lose track of time and think, “I just posted to my blog the other day,” when really it was two weeks ago. With a reliable system, you can see exactly what you’ve done and when, as well as what’s left to be done.
My favorite tool for this is 37Signals’ Backpack. I break down the marketing tactics selected within Bubbl.us into action steps that I record in Backpack. For instance, if I plan to post articles to my blog three times weekly, then I have three separate action tasks.
I have a page set up for each day of the workweek, and I evenly distribute the action tasks for all of my marketing tactics throughout the week.
On a given day, I simply click on that day’s page and get to work on the tasks, which are within a handy checklist (see image above along the left).
As I complete the items, I check them off. My goal is to get through the entire list on any given day. If I don’t get through the list for some reason, my rule is to get through all of the week’s tasks before the following Monday. This provides me with a little flexibility without letting me completely off the hook or allowing me to get too lax with my efforts (thus, adding consistency).
Each Monday, I un-check all the lists on every page, which helps me to stay accountable to my plans and goals for my business. I can clearly see what got done and what did not get done over the previous week. After un-checking the items, I’m ready to begin another week.
It’s organized, it’s simple, and it requires no thought on my part. Just open the right page and get to work. Maintaining an effective and consistent marketing plan is a lot of work, but the task is a lot easier with the right mix of tools and techniques.
How do you stay consistent with your marketing? What tools and techniques keep you on track?
Image by stock.xchng user dannystock