Some tips for keeping up your marketing when times are hectic

It has often been proven that keeping your marketing at a constant level is essential to ensure a steady flow of work into your small business. If you only promote your business when times are quiet, you are setting yourself up for ebbs and flows in your work levels, and will be starting from scratch each time you need to boost your business.

So, here are some simple tips which I use to keep marketing productivity steady, no matter how busy you are elsewhere in your business:

1. Set yourself a specific time or date to do certain marketing activities, and use a reminder on your smartphone or email calendar to remind you to do it. This might be writing a blog post at 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon, or spending half an hour on a Tuesday morning sending out an email update to your clients. If you set yourself the time to do the activity, you won’t feel as though you are interrupting other work to complete it, as it was already scheduled into your workload and you’ll also be more likely to remember to do it when other things are pressing on your mind.

2. Delegate – even if your small business consists of just you, there is likely to be someone who can provide support. If you can’t afford to hire extra help or a external company to complete certain activities, you could speak to a local college or university to offer marketing experience to a student – in exchange for a reference, you could find a great talent in social media management, design or marketing in general, and you’ll also be helping them to get into their chosen fields.

3. Analyse your marketing activities – spend a little time analysing the marketing you currently do and assess what works for your small business. If you find that you are getting no benefit from a particular area of marketing, why not try stopping it and seeing what difference it makes? You could then focus on the areas which are working, or try something new altogether with the time and money saved.

4. Make the most of your time – Being able to manage your time effectively is one of the most valuable tools you can possess in business, so make sure that you aren’t wasting your time on dead-end or less important areas in order to focus on those which will make a difference to your bottom line – which includes ensuring that you promote your business.

5. Use technology – There are websites and items of technology which can help you to streamline your marketing. These might include websites such as Social Oomph or Hootsuite to schedule tweets in advance and monitor your social media activity, or items such as smartphones or tablets to support your marketing functions. Make use of them where you can – but only where they are not a hindrance. If it is going to take you half a day that you don’t have available to work out how to use them and set them up, then hold back until times are quieter.

What else works for you? Please do let me know if you have other tips to share on keeping your marketing consistent, no matter what your workload.

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How can small businesses take advantage of the reduction of newspaper teams?

Many local or regional newspapers in the UK are now running with significantly smaller editorial teams than they were ten years ago. The increase of online reporting and social media as a news forum has led to a reduction in demand for printed newspapers.

Reporters now have to write for two mediums – both their own fast-paced newspaper websites, and the more traditional daily or weekly printed newspapers. News websites require ‘instant’ reporting, meaning less time for research or writing of articles, and a higher consumption of news stories to keep the websites up to date.

This means an advantage for small businesses – if reporters are looking for news to populate both their websites and newspapers on an increased level, then we can help to supply it, which in turn supports our businesses with publicity.

So, how can small businesses make sure their news stories are picked up by reporters?

1. Make sure your ‘news’ is news – don’t send a press release on simply a new product, service or staff member unless it has an angle. This might be how this news will benefit customers or the wider community, or you could try and link it to a topical news story, such as employment rates or the growth of your business during recession. Avoid writing a press release which is purely sales-focused.

2. Know how your chosen publication writes – do your research and try to supply press releases which are written in the style of the publication you are sending it onto. This will mean that the reporter has little to change or rewrite, so less work for them to do to get in onto their website or into their newspaper.

3. Know who the publication’s audience is – linked to the point above, you need to make sure you know who the publication is targeting and make sure it matches your own target audience. Don’t write an article all about the work your business does in the tourist trade of a Kent seaside town, and then send it to the Derby Telegraph in the middle of the country, for example – they will not be interested!

4. Don’t over-supply – try not to send too much to your newspaper contacts. Choose your topics carefully and don’t send more than one a week to each publication. Too much information will stop your press releases from being read or picked up, and you will get a much better response from ensuring that you only send out items on worthwhile news stories.

5. Send a visual – if you can, send a high resolution photograph with your press release to illustrate your press release. Readers respond to imagery, so avoid standard images (i.e. the boring cheque handover) and do something which will capture the attention of those viewing it. Increasingly, news websites are looking for short videos of around 5-10 seconds in length to upload to websites with news stories, so if you can capture and send this too, the chances of your news item being published will increase.

Don’t be afraid to send a press release to your local newspaper. Getting it right might take a little practice, but hopefully the above tips will help to point you int he right direction. The readership of regional newspapers has reduced over the past few years, they remain a trusted source of information for many people, so continue to be an extremely useful promotional channel for small businesses.

 

What benefit does sponsorship have for small businesses?

I receive a number of sponsorship requests every month, asking the company I work for to sponsor their child’s football team, the local sports club, or some other activity, club or event. The only ones I consider are those which give details of tangible benefits to my company by providing such sponsorship.

All businesses need marketing to ensure that customers are aware of their products or services, and for small businesses, sponsoring a children’s sports team or a local community event can be a great way of gaining profile and letting those who attend or are connected to the event or team know about your business.

But before you go spending your business’ hard-earned cash, you should consider these questions:

  • Is this event / team / activity the right fit for your business? For example, if you own a e-cigarette shop, sponsoring a children’s sports team might cause a negative reaction to your company.
  • Similarly, have you ensured that the audience of the event / team / activity is right for your business? You might use a sports event to promote your fitness company to the attendees of that event, for example.
  • How will the sponsorship benefit your company? Will your logo go onto a team shirt, or can you have a banner at the event? Make sure you agree what you can do in advance, and don’t forget to include the costs of any necessary production into the overall sponsorship cost if you have to supply it.
  • How reliable is the event or team? Will they fulfill their commitments to your sponsorship agreement?
  • Does your company have the time and resources to fully commit to the sponsorship? For example, do not accept a season ticket to a sports club in return for sponsorship if you realistically expect to only go once or twice throughout the season. See if you can swap that ticket for something more useful instead, such as an advert in the programme for example.

These tips will help your business to choose carefully the events, teams or activities it supports, in order to ensure maximum benefit for your company, whilst also hopefully doing some good to support your local community.