3 Ways to smooth out the Ups and Downs of Marketing
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Small business can be a pretty wild ride. You land a big deal, have a big day, hit on all cylinders and you are on top of the world!
Then you start doing the work, you focus on delivery, you’re working really hard…in your business. It’s a sweet, fast ride downhill all the way.
You deliver the goods, the service – what ever it was the client wanted and then you realize, you’ve got nothing lined up for tomorrow.
You’re at the bottom preparing for an uphill climb of marketing to get you that next influx of business.
You are on the roller coaster business cycle and unfortunately it’s all too common and if you don’t figure out how to manage it, it will eventually sink you.
Knowing it’s an issue, what can you do to get out of this painful cycle?
Plan ahead to smooth out the curves
The first step is to map out an overall marketing strategy – ideally for the whole year. It doesn’t have to be terribly detailed, in fact it can fit on a page or two, but plan ahead and lock up some dates for initiatives.
Maybe it’s a direct mail campaign that coincides with going back to school. Maybe it’s a quarterly seminar / workshop and you need to reserve the date and work backward to plan when you would start driving attendance. It could be reserving the month when you are going to redo your website and work on Search Engine Optimization issues or locking down the dates for starting to work with a business coach. 😉
The important thing is to spend some quality time developing a plan – even if you don’t stick to it exactly (and you probably won’t) just having something to work from will make a big difference.
Use multiple strategies to keep smooth acceleration
Optimizing your website is a long term marketing play for most businesses. It can have a big lift over time, but it’s not likely to do anything for you this month…or even the next 3 months.
Conversely something like direct mail and phone follow-ups are very time sensitive. If you wait 2 or 3 weeks after the prospect receives the direct mail, you might as well not call, they’re not going to remember who you are.
Networking or presenting workshops would be more medium term strategies. You are actively pursuing contacts, but it may take a while for things to come together.
The key is to have a mix of several strategies operating at once, 1 or 2 short term activities every month, a couple of medium term and some long term things going on in the background. A business that has 10 strategies running consistently is on top of the game and probably not getting big swings, just continued growth.
Automate to minimize the downtime
Finally, the other big key to avoiding the ups and downs is to really put things into a marketing system and automate where you can. In this case, a marketing system is a series of repeatable tasks that can be documented, delegated and in some cases, automated.
A great example of an automated marketing process is the use of an auto responder for people that contact you via your website (or otherwise). The easy example would be a prospect downloading a white paper you developed in exchange for sharing their email address. From their, your auto responder will follow up with that person over a period of several months, sharing valuable information and occasionally pitching the appropriate offer for the next ‘low hurdle’ offering.
People will buy when they’re ready to buy – the job of the automated system is to stay in front of them in a helpful nice way until that happens.
What other ways can you think of to smooth out the ups and downs of a small business? Share them below.
Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Small Business Coach