A good business focused on growth needs to focus on its marketing efforts. Demonstrating you are an expert in your field and are the go-to resource for your clients should be top of mind as you create a marketing plan.
Here are some questions and comments many lenders have when debating how much time to devote to marketing – or if they should do it at all. (Hint: you should!)
Why should I prioritize Marketing when I have so much other work to do?
Marketing is the ultimate Quadrant 2 activity. If you’ve heard of the Eisenhower Matrix, or perhaps have read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, you might be familiar with this term or concept. If not, here’s a crash course:
- Quadrant 1 activities are urgent and important tasks that you should do now;
- Quadrant 2 activities are important but not urgent tasks that you should decide when to do;
- Quadrant 3 activities are urgent but not important tasks that you should absolutely delegate to someone else; and
- Quadrant 4 activities are not important and not urgent tasks that you should simply delete from your day.
Marketing efforts fall squarely in Quadrant 2. It’s extremely important for any business to build their brand and get their name out there. However, it’s not something that’s necessarily urgent, as there are no true deadlines associated with completing the task. You have a steady workflow from current clients eating up your day with real live deadlines – and it’s okay if you don’t send a marketing email out on time. Unfortunately, that justification means marketing and other Quadrant 2 activities often get pushed to the back burner until they become Quadrant 1 activities – for example, the loss of a big client leads to needing to urgently obtain new ones. Instead of working ahead, now you are behind schedule on that task.
To avoid the above example, schedule time every week to focus on marketing efforts. It could be an hour each week where you write an article, make a new ad, send a new email blast to potential targets, or prepare for a webinar you will host for your community. So long as that time is sacred – it is scheduled and you cannot push it – it will become part of your habit and work routine to complete. That consistency is essential to making sure you keep marketing from getting away from you.
How much time should I devote to Marketing?
How much time you spend depends on your circumstances. Are you trying to grow your business quickly? Are you new to the space? Are you established and are just doing upkeep? Or has a nationwide pandemic ravaged your client base and you quickly need to find new ones?
Whatever the reason, start with a one-hour block at the same day and time every week so it becomes a habit. If you come upon tasks during the week to handle, instead of marking that email unread or partially addressing at that time, drop it into the next marketing block’s calendar so it’s there ready for you to tackle at the right time. If other people are relying on you for the information, let them know when you plan to address it so they aren’t left hanging. These little steps will help to give you and everyone else peace of mind that these tasks are also important to you and will be managed with care.
How do I plan out this time?
Using a recurring calendar time block is the easiest way to make sure this task stays on track and doesn’t get forgotten or overbooked. It also makes it easy to drop in tasks to the calendar block as they come across your desk, so when the time comes, you aren’t scrambling to remember what you had to take care of during this time.
If you’re lucky enough to work with others who also have marketing tasks to complete, work on them together – even if one person is preparing for a webinar and another is creating a pitch deck, sitting down together to work on those items will make sure you both are held accountable to using that time appropriately.
What if I am not sure what to do during this time?
If you’re just getting started or even if you’re established but have a slow week with no tasks, there is always something to do during this time block! Here are some ideas:
- Review your LinkedIn profile – add new connections, join new groups, interact with the feed, or update your profile with articles you’ve written or speaking arrangements you’ve done.
- Start preparing for that conference panel or webinar you’re on in two months – or reach out to organizations you’d like to participate in and ask if you can get involved.
- Pick a topic you’re an expert on and write an article on it or do a short video on the topic to post online (if you’re comfortable with that sort of thing!).
- Scour a list from a prior conference or webinar to search for potential leads and reach out to them.
Once you get a feel for the types of marketing activities you enjoy, this weekly commitment will evolve from a black box of uncertainty to a focused, efficient block to be proactive in your efforts.
But I’m not a Marketer!
Yes, you are! Think about this as improving your online brand – the more work you put in, the more professional you’ll look, the more people will trust you, and the more business you’ll get. It’s a long game, not an instant gratification exercise. In fact, it’s just like regular exercise – you don’t see results after just one day. But you should see results over time if you implement a strong regime that you stick to day after day, week after week.
But…I hired a marketing team to do this for me!
That’s wonderful! A marketing team is an excellent resource to help your business accomplish your goals. That said – they aren’t you! You need to be proactive to make sure you guide the direction the team is taking and provide input as they take steps to get you out there.
They also aren’t the experts in your field – YOU ARE! They might have a plan in place to write an article, host a webinar, and put together an email blast all on a certain topic. But they need YOU to provide the knowledge and expertise necessary to make sure what they’re promoting isn’t garbage and builds you up in your community. And even if you are brand new at a company, you are still important, and can demonstrate your value to your organization and your larger community by taking the time to build your own personal brand.
In sum, a strong marketing plan takes time and effort to organize properly. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming or a chore! If you can dedicate even an hour each week to tackling marketing activities, these tasks will become easier to complete over time. You’ll get better at preparing for a webinar or drafting an article as your do more and more of them, and the tasks which once felt cumbersome and time-consuming quickly become part of your routine. Then, you’ll need to focus on hiring and building processes to compensate for all that new business!
And guess what – that starts with a one-hour block, too…