There’s been a lot of talk at the start of the year about the importance of defining our vision for the future, setting our business goals, and drawing up plans to make them happen.

I’ve been enjoying taking time out to ‘think big’ and set the direction for my business year too, but amongst all the strategising and future planning, what practical steps can we take to keep ourselves on track when the daily grind sets in?

One way highly successful people achieve their goals is by focusing their efforts on the process to get them there, rather than the goal itself.

‘Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour’.
Quote taken from an excellent article written by James Clear, ‘Forget about setting goals. Focus on this instead.’

An aspiring Olympic athlete may have a gold medal in mind, however whilst this helps set the direction of their efforts, the only route to becoming a world-class athlete is to commit to a daily schedule of practice and training, that builds on progress made to date, and accumulates to achieve the end result.

Likewise, in business, your goal may be to hit your £100,000 sales target in the coming year. However you are unlikely to achieve this simply by doing spectacular work a few times during the year. Instead, just like the athlete, you need to identify which daily/weekly practices will accumulate to help you reach your goal, and then focus all your energies on committing to repeating those activities regularly until you arrive.

With small business marketing, the goal is to attract as many customers as possible to your business. If, like many small businesses, you rely on sporadic bursts of marketing effort, only when you have the time or inclination to focus on it, you aren’t giving yourself the chance to attract all the customers you need this year.

It is far more effective to devise a process to attract customers to your business – a set of regular marketing habits you commit to consistently – that will keep the enquiries, and sales, rolling steadily in.

So which small business marketing habits should you adopt?

#1 Engage in social media – at least 10 mins a day

We all know that social media can be a massive drain on our time, but used the right way it is a very powerful way for small businesses to reach their target customers. Consider the statistics (as of late 2014):

  • Facebook users – 1.35 billion
  • Twitter – 284 million
  • LinkedIn – 300 million users
  • Pinterest – 70 million (now the fastest growing social network, and is particularly attractive for eCommerce sites as it drives more revenue per click than Facebook or Twitter.)

These numbers are huge! Your potential customers are definitely using social media. All you need to do is identify which are their preferred platforms, and make sure you have a strong presence there. Use your daily 10 minutes (don’t forget to set a timer!) to convey your brand personality, help people, share useful information, entertain, build relationships, and of course promote your products and services too – as long as you aren’t overly promotional and have a good mix of posts.

If you can spare 30 minutes a day, this post gives you tips on how to effectively manage social media to get great results.

#2 Contribute to a social media group – 30 mins a week

OK so it’s social media again, but this time approaching it from a slightly different angle. Marketing is obviously all about getting in front of your target customers wherever they are, and one of the places you will find them is in social media groups. On LinkedIn and Facebook you’ll find groups for every business and consumer interest you can think of. It’s worth spending a little time researching to find a good one that has your customers in it, and then setting aside quality time each week to engage in the group.

The best approach is to focus on building relationships, rather than selling. Ask questions, answer questions, Like people’s posts, direct people to useful content (that is not your own), enjoy showing people your expertise in a helpful way, and watch your relationships flourish.

#3 Write a blog – 3 hours a month

In order to get noticed you have to show up regularly enough to be there when someone happens to be looking. The most effective way for small business owners to do this is to have a regular blog showcasing their products or expertise. There are several side benefits too.

If you make sure your blog contains relevant keywords to your target market, it will work well for SEO purposes. It also gives you fresh content to update your website, and gives you something new to put on your social media feeds, and in your email newsletters, etc.

Writing a blog post of around 500 words can take longer than 3 hours at first, but once you get some practice at it, you should be able to achieve this in 3 hours a month. Alternatively you could outsource blog creation to a content marketing partner.

To find out more about effective blogging, read my article on how to create awesome content.

#4 Send an Email Newsletter – 1 hour a month

Social media is an excellent tool for building relationships with your target customers, but your email list is still the most valuable marketing channel you have. In fact, in 2014 email marketing was cited as the most effective digital marketing channel for customer retention – meaning that it was the best way to get your existing customers to spend again.

You can use your monthly email newsletter to stay in touch with customers, former customers, people you have met at networking events and people who have registered an interest in your product or service. Here are some ideas of what you can include in your email newsletter:

  • your latest blog
  • information about new products or services
  • special offers
  • customer case studies and testimonials
  • guest interviews
  • staff profiles
  • industry news
  • frequently asked questions

I will cover tips on how to build a valuable email list for your small business in a future post.

#5 – Review – 15 mins a month

One of the most important small business marketing habits is to regularly review your key measures of success, to make sure your habits are helping you make good progress towards your overall goal. Examples of metrics that are helpful to track include:

  • total monthly sales £
  • no. of monthly transactions
  • average transaction value
  • no. of customers
  • average transaction frequency
  • website visitors
  • email subscribers
  • social media followers/fans

Taking a regular monthly snapshot of where your business is, will enable you to spot any issues early on so you can address them, and will also allow you to discover which marketing activities have persuaded customers to buy from you, so you can repeat them in future.

So will you be adopting the habit of regular marketing in your small business?

Marketing your business regularly and consistently enables you to show up on your target customer’s radar more frequently than you would if you took the sporadic marketing approach. Each time customers become aware of you, you have a better chance of converting a sale, so it stands to reason it’s in your interest to get in front of them as often as possible.

By focussing on the process of regularly marketing your business, you will reach at your goals almost without realising it.

If you’re a small business owner looking for help to achieve your goals and grow your sales through effective marketing, please get in touch.

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