9 Comments

Summary:

The two biggest problems for most small business owners when it comes to marketing a business are effective planning and consistency.

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 tools and the right approach to planning and carrying out a lead generation plan, you’ll find yourself gaining more and more confidence and traction with your efforts.

Step 1: Setting Up the Nuts and Bolts of 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 scatter gun 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.

You need a tool to help you with the process. I like using Bubbl.us for this, since it’s like mind mapping and allows you to throw out every available option, while keeping you organized.

706123_fishing_hook

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.

You need a tool to help you with the process. I like using a mind-mapping tool like Bubbl.us for this, as it allows you to examine every available option.

bubbl.us

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.

backpackit

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

  1. nice post .. its very easy to get lost completely. One click leads to another; another to another, finally ending up with lots of tabs open. I might have started somewhere; ended up in a site which is totally not relevant to what i was doing. I made it a habit to bookmark the the new tabs as “Check later” and close the tabs.

    have to check out bubbl.us, sure it ‘ll help things get little more organised.

    wandering thoughts

    Share
  2. Amber Riviere Thursday, July 9, 2009

    I know just what you mean, designamigo. It can get overwhelming. I like emailing myself links with a subject line about what it relates to (example, Twitter Tools with a link to something that will make managing Twitter updates easier). I find it helps and keeps me from getting distracted.

    Share
  3. Great post. I have found some very successful techniques which I work on during my week, no strict schedule but maybe 5 hrs or so a week. I basically really work my networking skills by direct contact with leads I create based on something I find on Twitter as well as leads from conferences or user groups.

    I wrote up something on my blog about the techniques if anyone is interested, called Finding Work as a Freelance Software Developer, sounds like just for developers but I think it can apply to many other freelance areas.

    Thank you.

    Share
  4. I do something similar with Backpack. I have many checklists for things I do weekly, monthly, and quarterly. Some are quite long so unchecking a used list is time consuming. Instead I make a copy of the list, check off items on the copy, and delete it when I’m done. If I find improvements, I capture them on the original checklist so I’ll have them next time around – the checklists get smarter with each use.

    Share
  5. The backpack trick is a winner. That’s the kind of thing I would start trying right away.

    Share
  6. Amber Riviere Thursday, July 30, 2009

    @ Rob – Thanks for posting the added resource. I’ll have to check it out.

    @ Zane – Good tip for copying longer lists. It’s better for streamlining to work from a template when possible. Thanks for sharing!

    @ tropicalismo360 – Glad it helps. Let me know how it works out for you.

    Share
  7. [...] don’t have to limit your marketing and promotional efforts to content creation, though. Here are a few other ideas to help you get the word out about your [...]

    Share
  8. [...] don’t have to limit your marketing and promotional efforts to content creation, though. Here are a few other ideas to help you get the word out about your [...]

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post