Outbound Marketing – Stop Whining and Set Your Timer
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Yep, time to screw your marketing head back on and start laying the foundation for the all-important 4th quarter ahead. Move the white voile to the summer closet, pretend the days aren’t getting shorter and prep for the return of your customers from their vacation mindset. And yours.
My clients are consistent in at least one thing – the complaint about the time outbound marketing takes – particularly blogging and social media. There’s no way to sugar coat this – yes, it takes time. A compelling blog – one with a clear take-away, several links, and images to further your point – can easily take 12 hours. I can hear your eyeballs rolling from here. (Yes, I can actually hear them.) Well, that’s the reality if you want Google to pick up your content and position yourself as an expert in your field. Social media, at least an hour a day to ensure you have posted an edited arresting image, written clever content, included all the relevant tags and – here’s the kicker – be sure you have responded to the comments you get. Why? Your engagement metrics are everything. If your community hears nothing but crickets, your growth is guaranteed to stall out.
So, how to manage while you still design your product? Or cover the sales floor? Or write proposals? Or travel to the next trade show? Here’s some options…
1.There aren’t enough hours in the day – I don’t have time for _______ (fill in the blank).
Wow. Blah, blah, blah.
BLOGS – The Biggest Time Suck
Identify potential Guest Bloggers who are in complimentary fields to your business and have something to say your followers will benefit from. This is such a win-win all around. The Guest Blogger is a) flattered to be asked, b) is thrilled to be exposed to your audience, c) enhances your image as an industry player with a vast network and d) takes 12 hours off your hands. From your perspective, a) you just saved 12 hours, b) your Guest Blogger’s audience will now see your website, c) you have made a new alliance for future partnerships and d) you just got some free content.
Create a Content Calendar (if you are ambitious) or at least an Idea List (for the more spontaneous) to inspire ideas, focus your message and stay on brand. Without some kind of road map, even the most prolific writer gets stuck staring at a blank screen. Think about subjects that will allow you to ride the PR coat tails of larger events. Depending on your target audience, this could be international like the Olympics, or national like the Oscars (What? The Oscar’s aren’t “national,” you say? I’m based in L.A., what do I know), or local like your town’s annual Solstice Parade.
Write in advance. Seriously, this is so genius. When you are “in the zone,” just keep going. Of course, if you take a look at the Content Calendar you just created, you’ll see plenty of topics to write about. At the very least, you can set the outlines for several blogs, archive them, then go back and insert links and images later. You’ll be feeling very accomplished.
If you want to learn a ton, meet incredibly smart people and have an excuse to hang out in Beverly Hills, I highly recommend attending the Design Bloggers Conference. One of 2017’s speakers was the Earl of Spencer, so this is no small thing.
SOCIAL MEDIA – The Second Biggest Time Suck
There’s no getting around it – this is a daily activity that needs it’s own dedicated time. If you continue to fool yourself that social media doesn’t matter, you can pretty much be assured your business won’t matter soon, either.
Set the timer on your phone for one hour – then stay focused! This method is brilliant in its ability to both keep you driven to accomplish the tasks needed, and not let you fall down the rabbit hole of political posts and cat videos.
Delegate – give this to a 20-something whose fingers move faster, but give them direction on content, voice and goals.
If all else fails, outsource. This is one area in your overall marketing strategy that requires speed, consistency and a never ending stream of content. By the sheer nature of the task, it can easily be handled by a freelancer or a firm (like mine) in concert with you or your team.
2. We get lots of leads, but have no one to follow up on them! Don’t have the manpower to keep all these balls in the air.
Take a close look at your staff and their job descriptions. Often, small businesses grow organically with everyone doing everything just to get by. Then – 10 years later – there are some things are aren’t being done at all. Like lead generating. Or just as bad, lead follow up. Or worse – letting a ball drop altogether. It’s worth your while to support your existing team with a little digital training to keep theirs brains fresh and motivated. And yours. Or, if you’re a one-man-band, carve out a standing appointment with yourself for a weekly digital refresh.
As obvious as it seems, I indeed have clients who spend tens of thousands of dollars on their websites and SM outreach, only to leave inquiries and even orders placed online unanswered for weeks. Frankly, I can’t believe I’m even writing that, but it’s true.
Moral to this story – don’t generate more than you can manage. A FB page that is idle or a Pinterest board with only six pins over a year sends a worse message than not having the platform at all.
3. Do I need to be on ALL the social media platforms? How do I focus? (Meltdown)
This is an on-going question that has a different answer every six months. Basically, no you don’t need to be on every social media platform. But you do need to be on at least three – these three are solely based on your client demographic and essentially are a combo of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Yelp. (Some great do’s and don’ts in my fav book “Read This if You Want to Be Instagram Famous.”)
Choose wisely and keep it manageable. Look at ROI as an ongoing brand awareness campaign, then go have a glass of wine. Do not – I repeat – post an image then stare at your phone waiting for likes. And you wonder why you’re cranky.