You get it. You’re a business owner who has educated yourself on the value of social media and email marketing. In fact, you have invested in a Constant Contact account and have sent a few newsletters, here and there. Each email yielded inquiries from new potential clients, so you know that email marketing works. You have taken some time to create a Facebook page for your business, and the few posts you’ve put up created a little buzz of engagement among your clientele. Realistically though, it’s often way past sundown by the time you’re able to spend time constructing email campaigns and social media posts, and by then you are uninspired and exhausted after the demands of the day.
Marketing is the bread and butter of a business. It is the activity from which new customers are borne, current clients are rewarded, and former patrons are coaxed back through the doors. But to the time-starved small business owner, who wears a multitude of hats in the course of one day, it’s also a task that largely gets pushed to the back burner. Starting with the best of intentions, a business owner struggles to complete marketing activities consistently and effectively (myself included!).
I have really started tuning in to the challenges facing these folks in an effort to find the best strategies possible to help them. Thus far, I have drawn up a few suggestions that can save some time and keep social media and email marketing activities on-track.
Know your target market and precisely how you want to serve them. Any Marketing 101 class begins with this mandate, but there is a reason why this is so important. Without this kind of focus, you are like a ship tossing about on the waves of the ocean. Your content can’t and won’t have focus. When you know who you’re talking to and what you want to say to them, creating content becomes a much less daunting task.
Create content categories. Some folks call them “buckets”, but regardless of what you term it, this is a great way to lay out a structure for posting on social media. Examples of a content category might include inspirational quote cards, industry tips and information, repurposed articles, and/or snippets of blog posts you have written.
Declare themes for months and days, maybe even weeks. This really simplifies content creation for me. As an example, my target market is a community that I have termed “milimompreneurs”. A member of this group is a military spouse that also takes on roles of parent and entrepreneur. The Military Appreciation Month of May is a very important one for this community. It only makes sense that I incorporate this theme into my marketing for May. Specifically, the Friday before Mother’s Day is Military Spouse Appreciation Day, and I would be remiss to not design a special promotion in honor of my hard-working and often underappreciated milimompreneurs. Other examples are theme days like #MotivationMonday or #TBT (Throwback Thursday).
Schedule time to work on your content and make it a priority. Break it up into smaller chunks if you must; whatever will work with your schedule. It might only be 15 minutes every-other-day, but don’t neglect to do it. Find a time when your energy and focus are at a high point. Consider this to be as important as brushing your teeth.
Create a content calendar. Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard this before too. Again, there’s a good reason – the benefit of this practice cannot be denied. Don’t worry about making it too fancy. It just needs to fit your needs and make sense to you. Take note of this suggestion though: CREATE THE ACTUAL POSTS. I have worked with folks who just provide an “outline” for themselves to follow, and guess what? Yeah, it doesn’t happen. Also, make note of the image, video, and/or media you want to accompany each post. This will help you to “match it up” when you’re scheduling. Which brings me to…
Schedule the posts! I don't think this step needs much of an explanation. Don’t go to all the work of previous steps and stop before you go live with your masterpiece. Your fans want/deserve/need to hear from you!
Get an accountability partner. This is a step that I have added because I think it’s something missing for a lot of folks, and where their efforts could fall flat if they don't take this step. Especially in the case of a solopreneur, it’s easy to get off-track and let marketing efforts trail off in lieu of working IN the business instead of ON it. Here's a question: are you as likely to go to the gym and work out if no one is expecting you to be there? Someone who is watching & engaging with your posts and is dedicated to seeing you succeed on social media provides a level of accountability that pushes you to sit down and write social posts when everything else is pulling you in other directions.
The best combination and implementation of these suggestions is going to vary as widely as the types of businesses out there, but by and large these seven steps will really help get you back on track to marketing success.
April Keating, a military spouse entrepreneur and mom of two young boys, is the owner & founder of online marketing firm Cre8ve Content Co. April is an expert with Constant Contact products and holds a Master Certification as a Solution Partner. She also is a member of the Washington, DC metro area Constant Contact Authorized Local Experts team. Click here to subscribe to April's monthly Cre8ve Chronicles newsletter.
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