As an entrepreneur, you’re often caught in a bit of a productivity catch-22: If you don’t spend enough time marketing your business, customers won’t know about it, but if you spend too much time on marketing, you won’t have a complete enough product or service to advertise. The solution, of course, is to get your marketing done in the smallest amount of time possible—but how do you do it?
Luckily, time management techniques and technology have come so far that this practice is easier now than ever before. The tips below will help to ensure that you’re maximizing your schedule and getting more marketing done in less time.
Plan things out
Tweeting or blogging whenever you see fit is not an effective marketing strategy. You could miss optimal posting times or disrupt any existing sense of consistency, causing you to lose touch with your audience. The best marketing is accomplished post-planning, which means sitting down to create an editorial calendar, download a scheduling app, or write up a marketing section for your business plan.
It may seem at first that planning out your marketing strategy actually takes up more of your time—and it might, depending on how you do it. But think of it as an investment. For every moment you spend planning, your marketing efforts get that much more effective and take a little less time later on.
Take full advantage of automation programs
Marketing automation programs don’t just help you complete marketing tasks in less time—they perform those tasks for you while you do something else. For busy entrepreneurs (and face it, we’re all busy), this is an excellent option, and there are a number of programs to choose from.
All-in-one automation software, like Infusionsoft, are one-stop shops for business owners who want to streamline the advertising experience. Infusionsoft, for instance, offers a landing page builder, full CRM integration, and a campaign builder that automatically sends personalized emails and discounts to the hottest leads. This type of software ensures that your time is spent building productive relationships with customers both new and old.
An iPhone and Android app, allows you to schedule Instagram posts ahead of time in calendar view. You can create media libraries just for your future Instagram photos, preview your entire feed to make sure it matches your company’s values, and narrow down which hashtags are most effective for your business.
TweetDeck is a desktop app that helps you automate your Twitter feed in the same way: You can organize your feed and respond to your most active followers. There’s an automation software or application for whichever social media platform or website your business utilizes most.
Outsource or designate content creation
Taking Insta-worthy photos and writing blog posts may be fun at first, but if you’re the main marketer for your business, you’re burning time. Save yourself a few valuable hours each week by designating or outsourcing content creation. Someone on your team may be able to spare some extra time to take pictures, design banner ads, or write a post for your Facebook page while you work on other crucial parts of your business.
Better yet—if you have room in your budget—there are hundreds of talented writers and visual artists online who’d be happy to take the work off your hands. The added benefit of outsourcing? Since content creation is often a freelancer’s main job, they may know something about it that you don’t, giving that blog post or photo a bit of extra “oomph.”
Develop good habits
This one applies to every aspect of business. If you’re the one manning your company’s marketing, make it your goal to work on your strategy at the same time each day, or on the same days each week. Do your best not to forgo marketing duties when other responsibilities rise to the surface. Instead, make marketing a priority, and it will become second nature. You’ll be able to complete individual tasks faster every time.
Some people are better at time management and self-motivation than others, and it can be helpful to “steal” other entrepreneurs’ techniques when yours aren’t quite working. If your local community is a little lacking, or if you simply need some fresh ideas, online forums are a great way to exchange thoughts. Quora is the perfect place to ask questions and have them answered by industry experts. Alternatively, the BizWarriors forum is a place where you can exchange advice and experiences with entrepreneurs at all stages in their journeys. When in doubt, your fellow business owners can give you some time management tips that will help you solidify your marketing practices.
Get your customers to market your business for you
Good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth doesn’t get enough love these days. Getting people to talk about your business (both in person and online) is a great way to make your product or service known with minimal time or effort on your part. At the most basic level, this boils down to making your business something people want to talk about.
There are tons of ways to make your business a topic of conversation. Helping a cause through donations or volunteer work may do the trick, so will announcing environmentally friendly business practices on your social media accounts. You can become a hot topic by announcing a contest, beginning a partnership with another business, or even by switching up your company website. Anything that deviates from “everyday business” will make you into something people want to tell their friends about.
Perform regular analytics
How do you know that any of these techniques or applications are effective? By running analytics on your social media accounts and company website. By now you probably realize that a lot goes into marketing: posting to your blog or social media at the right time, publishing on the right platforms, and sharing the right content are just a few pieces of the puzzle.
Periodic analytics will help you keep track of what you’re doing right and what could use a bit of improvement. And if your reports show that you need to change your timing or your platforms, you simply jump back to step one, adjust your plan, and try again.
Marketing can easily become time-consuming, but with these tips and tools, it doesn’t have to be. Take a look at your current strategies to see where you can shave off a bit of time and enhance your marketing techniques.
Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor, and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com and the popular small business forum BizWarriors.com. He is also co-author, with his brother Adam, of the award-winning Kidpreneurs—teaching kids about entrepreneurship.