You get into business to do something that you love. A skill that you have, which you can use to shape the world around you, share with others and use to make a profit – that is the essence of business. But you’ll pretty soon have found out that the skill or product you’re selling isn’t the only element to running a successful start-up. As an entrepreneur, you’ll quickly have gotten used to wearing several different hats simultaneously, and quickly having to find some hidden talents to become good at areas you may never had had to consider before, such as balancing accounts, chasing invoices, wooing new clients or networking with other businesses. And above all, if you want to hit the ground running, you’ve suddenly got to find the time to become good at marketing and build a social media strategy.
Why Marketing Matters
Your small business marketing strategy isn’t an add-on or a ‘nice to have’. It’s the lifeblood of a new business. Establishing your brand, determining your vision and values, crafting your key messages and communicating them with the world is what’s going to put you on the map, and make potential customers sit up and listen. Even if you don;’t think you’re any good at, or you don’t think you have time to focus on it, that’s what you have to do if you want to be in business for the long run. Until they can afford to make a few hires, many small business owners muddle along doing their own marketing without any clearly defined strategy, fitting it in as and when they aren’t focusing on a million other pressing matters. This may seem to work for a while. But neglecting your marketing or doing an unconvincing job of it will absolutely damage your business in the long term, and will slow or halt your growth. The good news is, you don’t need hours and hours to spare. In fact, just fifteen minutes a day is all you really need to get up and running.
Define Your Goals
The worst action is to take a scattergun approach. If you look at the blue chip titans of corporate global marketing – McDonald’s, Apple, Nike, Starbucks – one thing they all have in common is consistency. This is key no matter the size and scale of your operation. Use your first fifteen minute slot to map out what your goals are – these are likely to already be in your business plan – and work out what your marketing needs to do in order to move you from point A to B. Do you want to position yourself and your business as a thought leader in the sector? Gain new customer data? Generate sign-ups to your social media channels? Increase the average basket value for your eCommerce store? Or even improve your small business branding? Always start with the end in mind and design your marketing strategy with those goals as the drivers.
How To Get Started
Prioritise your goals and focus your attention on only the most pressing to start off with. Take a single channel related to your objectives – it could be authoring blog posts for your website, creating a series of video content or joining some LinkedIn Groups. Take that jumping off point to become good at one thing, before eventually focusing on other channels which serve other of your marketing priorities. In this way, you can turn the gigantic task into a series of smaller, achievable steps, and before you know it, you’ll have built a great, sustainable marketing plan custom fitted to your own business needs.