What’s the most valuable asset in your business?
I recently posed this question to a room full of business owners, and received the usual answers: people, process, intellectual property, and more. And while these suggestions weren’t necessarily wrong, I was surprised at how long it took until a member of the group volunteered what I consider to be the correct answer: time.
Time is the only resource your business can never make or buy more of, and there’s never enough.
So how can we invest in areas that maximize our time? The answer, as we’ll see, lies in harnessing the potential of modern digital marketing and automation. But we’re getting ahead ourselves.
If you’re in charge of marketing a small business, experiencing significant growth at any size organization, or maturing your marketing function, you’re probably facing a scenario where immediate operational concerns regularly overwhelm the time you feel you can devote to more long-term investments such as marketing. Last week we tackled the question of how much time you should be spending on marketing. This week, we’re going to assume you’ve referenced our handy marketing spend benchmark guide and know how much time and money you can invest in advertising and promotions. In both cases it’s probably less than you’d like, so its time to get strategic about how you’re invest.
A Four-Step Marketing Strategy When You Don’t Have Time for Marketing
Any good digital marketing effort begins with a solid strategy. Building that foundation by following the four steps below will help you maximize the effectiveness of your time spent on marketing.
1. Identify your target audience
Every marketing agency and consultant will trot out this chestnut, but it’s never been more true than in today’s digital marketing world. You’re about to start making decisions about where to invest your limited resources, and the easiest way to do so is by narrowing your focus on a core market. That’s why we’ve defined a target audience as follows:
Your target audience = defined demographic or psychographic segments that allow you to narrow your promotional efforts to fit your resources and generate a positive return
Demographics are the measurable areas such as income or revenue that dictate whether your customer can buy from you, while psychographics are the values and attitudes that determine whether they will. Defining both in as granular detail as possible is the starting point of any solid marketing strategy.
2. Build your channel strategy
Your marketing channels are those advertising paths you’ll take to reach your target audience. And while the internet gives today’s digital marketer a nearly infinite number of advertising platforms, your channel strategy should be based on those efforts that will scale with as little effort on your end as possible and are in heaviest use by your target audience. We’ll be addressing those channels more in the second part of this series, but for now here are some teasers for those who like to work ahead:
- Searching Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM/PPC Advertising)
- Marketing Automation
- Inbound Lead Generation
3. Create your business logic
Solidifying your business logic is THE critical step to saving time in your marketing efforts, but very few companies spend time in this area. Why? Because business logic looks like this:
It’s a tedious exercise to go through every scenario and permutation of how, for example, your organization captures and nurtures a lead, but doing so is a critical step in order to create a replicable marketing process. To ease the pain, try thinking like a computer: if X happens, then Y happens. For example, if a lead submits a web form and asks for a quote, then they’ll be routed to your sales team.
The more you codify your business logic, the more you’ll recognize inflection points and set yourself up for a strong marketing automation function when it comes time to build your system (which we’ll cover next week).
4. Prepare your carrots
The last element of our time-saving marketing strategy concerns your offers. At its core, digital marketing is about information exchange: your goal is to provide your target audience with something that they consider valuable enough to give you either their money or some piece of information that you can use to market to them in the future. So what are those carrots that you’ll dangle in front of your audience?
Carrots can range from discounts and special offers to exclusive deals to well-researched guides and tutorials, but you won’t necessarily know what works until you try them. So what you want to do at this stage is to sit down and develop your offers. Plan them out over the course of your campaign, and then incorporate them into your marketing channels.
What’s that you say? We haven’t gotten into the marketing channels yet? Patience, gentle reader. Part 2 of How to Market When You Don’t Have Time for Marketing is coming next week.