Finding the Time for Your Own Marketing

There's nothing quite like an empty pipeline to get your attention, right? In those times, panic overcomes inertia and you find the time to do the marketing. But what about the long periods between those bouts of panic when you push your marketing to the back burner and joke about the cobbler's son who never has any decent shoes? How do you find the time to work on the business instead of in it? What's a realistic amount of time to spend on your own marketing?

I'm not talking about sales, either, which I would define as the activity that begins once a prospect has raised their hand and given you permission to sell to them. Most principals--regardless of where they are on the introvert/extrovert scale--are good at closing those opportunities.

Time isn't the only enemy, either. Your marketing might not be happening because you are busy, sure, but it could also be because you don't know what your position should be (you can't see your own label from the inside of the bottle) or because you're not sure what lead generation strategies would be a good fit for your positioning. Here, though, I just want to make seven critical suggestions about how to accomplish more with less:

  • Pick the appropriate activity. If you aren't desperate, reach for higher level expert-like things, such as speaking engagements and article placements. If you need quicker results, settle for lower level activities like paid advertising on LinkedIn or a webinar or a one-time list purchase (see this upcoming webinar on how to buy a list, and see this past webinar on the six best "need it now" ideas for landing new business).
  • Settle on only three or four activities that you're excited about. When I put together a lead generation plan for a client, I choose from the twenty-one activities that I've tested extensively, but you'd never want more than just a few in the final plan. You choose those based on the kind of firm you are, your marketplace focus, how much time/money you have, and your personality. A blog is a bad idea for almost everybody because most folks struggle with what to write and they don't have an audience. Speaking is a terrible idea if you don't have the right connections and you get nervous thinking about it. The overarching theme is this: you must be excited about your marketing activities or you won't do them! I love the opportunity to write, and when I sat down to write this I chose from 155 topic ideas I've gathered recently and so I can easily pick something that really hits me at the time.
  • Spread it around. If you've put together the right staff, 25% of those folks can participate in some marketing activity: writing, speaking, calling, networking, etc. You can't feel lonely doing this stuff.
  • Establish habits in a new setting. There's a lot of science around the importance of new patterns. That will look different for each of you, but there will be some repetition in your chosen solution. That will likely involve earlier rather than later in the day, doing it away from the office, turning off distractions, goals shared with peers, and rewarding yourself. If you mess up once, smile and try again. If you keep messing up, rethink the specifics and take a deeper look at why. I've learned a lot from Mason Currey, Ryan Holiday, and Steven Pressfield in this regard.
  • Quit trying new systems. If you're using Campaign Monitor or MailChimp and don't have many contact records and struggle to generate solid insight to send to that list, learning a new marketing automation platform isn't a good use of your time or money.
  • Switch passive to active. It might be unrealistic to never participate in an RFP, but you'd do well to establish some simple criteria and then let a more objective party apply your thinking without your emotional involvement. You could use your time for better things if you decline to participate when the incumbent is defending, when they won't tell you who else is submitting, and when more than three firms are responding, for example.
  • Focus where your efforts can be repurposed. If you're doing a breakout at a conference, record it so that it can be transcribed and then edited into an article, craft the deck so that you can post it on SlideShare, publish a URL in your talk so that you can capture email addresses, offer a free eBook if participants will participate in a five-question survey that you can turn into a blog post, and do a Google Paid Survey for quotable material in that media interview while you're there.

Are you excited about your positioning? Do a few hundred companies really want to talk about working with you? Do you feel like you're always getting smarter when you're doing your own marketing? Do you resent it when client work gets in the way of your own marketing? Okay, that last one is a little bit of a stretch, but you get the idea!

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