Breaking the habit of not marketing your small business
If you’ve been running your own small business for a number of years, it should not come as a surprise that you may have developed a number of habits – most good, but some may be not so good. One of these not so good habits will be within your prioritisation. You prioritise your clients over your own small business!
STOP – WAIT – WHAT???
Right now, you’re saying: Of course I do. While there is nothing wrong with you doing this for much of the time, you absolutely need to put your business first some of the time. This is why…
Keeping the money flowing
Putting your clients first will keep the money flowing in for the work you have been contracted for. It’s absolutely right that you keep to your commitments on this. Forward planning is just as important
Money flowing in
As you, presumably, want to both keep the money flowing in, and increase the amount of money coming in, you need to prioritise activities to ensure this happens. This means committing time to three things:
- Account management
Maintaining and building relationships with your current clients will help ensure your current contracts are maintained/extended. You get to discuss what else you can provide to them too – cross-sell/upsell opportunities.
If you’re not prioritising time for sales activity, you will be tempted to follow up sales opportunities with emails only. Emails are great, but talking to your prospect is far more effective. Yes, you may then have to listen to someone saying no, but you also get the opportunity to ask why and, perhaps, change their mind if you’re on a call instead of in your inbox.
Marketing is often the activity that drops down the To Do List when you’re busy delivering for your current clients. For some reason (and we are guilty of it sometimes), a ‘bird in the hand’ belief comes into being. “We’re better off bringing in the money we know we’ve got committed” is the thought process. That’s not a good idea. What happens when the current work is finished?
The money gap
When considering why you need to prioritise your marketing, think about the money gap. The money gap is the time between when your current clients make their last payment and the time until you receive more money. There are three parts to the money gap.
Marketing time + sales cycle + invoice period = money gap
1. Marketing Time
If you don’t doing any marketing because you’re busy delivering what your current clients have ordered, you’ll have to start again once you’re finished. From a standing start, you will need to:
- Re-establish brand awareness
- Explain how you can help your target audiences
- Convince people to get in touch
2. Your sales cycle
How long does it normally take for you to convert a sales opportunity into a paying client? Maybe you’re lucky and people decide quickly. For most B2B businesses, the sales cycle is measured in weeks, or even months. If you have prioritised marketing, client attrition and replacement should become a natural circular process.
3. Invoice period
Do your clients pay up front or do you invoice and give them 14/28/90 days to pay that invoice? Do they pay on time? If not, you’ll need to factor in the average invoice payment time too.
The total of these three parts shows you how long it will be between payments coming into your business account. Can your business cope with that?
By prioritising your business, and particularly the marketing of your business, the money gap problem goes away. By regularly marketing your business, you will generate a regular flow of leads into the business. A regular flow of leads means sales happen frequently and that means the money continues to flow.
Some of these new clients will replace others who stop using your business. Hopefully most will be adding to your client numbers, growing your business.
By ensuring you prioritise your business for part of the time, you stop the money gap impacting your business and you keep your business healthy and growing. Is that a good enough reason? Of course, the next question is how much time…
How much time should be prioritised for marketing?
If you have read our previous blog on marketing spend, you will know we recommend your spend 5-10% of revenue on your marketing. The amount of time dedicated to your marketing should be a minimum of 10% of your time. If you work on your own, that means half a day a week. If your business is bigger than this, simply multiply up.
This time is then split into doing and measuring. The measuring ensures you are doing the right marketing to grow your business.
Of course, at a point where you either simply don’t have the time, or you don’t have the skills, you can call us on 020 8634 5911.
How to prioritise your marketing
When a client wants your time, you schedule it into your diary and then nobody else can have that time. So why not treat your own business in the same way? Schedule the time into your diary and don’t move it. When someone requests a timeslot that isn’t available, they don’t ask what you’re doing if you say that time is taken, so there is no need to say ‘that is my marketing time for the week’. If it really has to be moved, re-schedule in the same week. Don’t move it to the following week, or you will start de-prioritising your marketing again.
What is next?
Once you’ve committed the time to prioritise your marketing, you then need a marketing plan. That will be the next blog topic! To be notified when that is published, click here to subscribe to our mailing list. If you want to talk about your marketing, you can book a time directly into the diary here.