It’s the most thrilling (and terrifying) time for a small business owner—your little shop is ready to spread its wings and announce its services to the world. You’ve decided to move beyond word-of-mouth, but how much time should you dedicate to it?
Striking that delicate balance between marketing and value-added activities is key to running a business that brings in new customers and keeps them satisfied. Read on to find guidelines for managing your time effectively.
According to a 2017 survey from Constant Contact, small business owners spend about 20 hours per week on marketing activities. The survey also proves that dedicating such time is almost always a net positive.
There is a multitude of options for business owners to choose from. The boom of internet advertising has pushed platforms like Google, Facebook, and Twitter to the top of the list of places your product should be.
The deluge of new marketing channels, along with mobile options, different search engines, and SEO principles to learn can be overwhelming. Where does your business fit in all of this activity?
The answer, according to that survey, is “definitely more than one place.” Businesses with multiple marketing channels (i.e., Facebook ads + email newsletters) performed better. This doesn’t mean you have to be advertising on every website, but take time to learn a few tools like Google AdSense that will broaden your reach.
This will take time, but the data shows it’s worth it. The more opportunities your business has to get in front of potential customers, the more customers will flock to it.
Many business owners don’t pay close enough attention to where their time is spent. If you think of your time as a pie, how much are you dedicating to marketing right now?
If your answer is “less than 10%” and you’re a new business, you have some rearranging to do. You don’t have many customers yet, so your time needs to be invested in raking in a base. In the beginning, as much as 50% of your time should be spent reaching out to customers.
Once you start building a foundation and achieving more reliable sales, it’s time to start tapering things down. Now you have a different obligation—providing your product or service. There are no hard, fast rules to the taper, but decrement by 5% until you feel the balance.
Many business owners call it a “gut feeling.” Gut feelings usually end painfully the next day, so don’t trust it completely. The rule of thumb is this: keep up with your current customers and devote the remaining time to new ones.
Your business won’t last long if you’re losing customers as fast as you reach them. Attend to your loyal base—their loyalties aren’t guaranteed.
In all you do (aside from the very beginning, of course) you should be taking time out of your day to think of your current customers. What do they need?
When was the last time you sent a friendly newsletter only to older customers (that isn’t trying to sell them something)?
The people that started with you at the bottom will feel intense loyalty to you if you address them as special. “You were here from the beginning and now look where we are” can speak to a customer more than any advertisement or coupon could.
In all you do, remember the customer.