You can learn as much about marketing as you'd like but when you're a small business owner working to a shoestring budget you need to be sure that you're implementing strategies that work for YOUR type of business and then create a system for putting those strategies on autopilot.
To be sure that you don't experience feast or famine, I've compiled all the strategies and techniques I use to ensure that you'll always attract clients, easily and consistently. I've discovered that having a thriving business has little to do with discipline, willpower or hard work. The secret is all about implementing systems for running a business so that the system works for you (not the other way around), and that you have the time and freedom within your business to enjoy your life. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Put Things on Autopilot
Putting your marketing plan on autopilot happens by creating a system for every single aspect of what you do to attract clients. That way you don't have to think about what to do next, you just follow the system.
2. Separate Your Space
Keep a separate, distinct work area in your home. (This is especially difficult if you're living and working in a shoebox studio, like I was when I started my business!) If you don't have a separate room, at least define an area, and know that when you're in it, you're in "work mode."
3. Eliminate In-Person Meetings
Eliminate in-person meetings were possible, even with prospects. Use the phone, email or even online conferencing. For most home-based entrepreneurs, when you're out of the office, you're NOT making money. So it's important that you can communicate flawlessly from where you are. By doing this the time you spend travelling to and from an appointment can be used more productively elsewhere.
4. Outsource All You Can
Learn to outsource where possible. Whenever you start thinking, "Well I can just do that myself," STOP. Streamline your business, making everything as automatic as possible. Use outside services to stay focused on your ‘real work'. Enlist the help of a virtual assistant (VA) to take phone calls and handle email. Get a bookkeeper or even enlist help for outside errands. Save your energy for your brilliant ideas and the things that will really generate money!
5. Structure Your Time
Allot certain tasks to a specific days of the week. Create business development only days so that you can work on your marketing undisturbed. Try to group your meetings and errands together to minimize your out-of-office time. Make a list in the morning of all the outside tasks you need done for the day, and attempt to complete them in one fell swoop. Even better, do what I do and designate just one day a week as your "blitz" day for errands and meetings. Plus, then you only need to get dressed up one day a week!
As your business and personal time mesh, it's more important than ever to structure your day. Break down your most important tasks to ensure that all the non-essentials stuff doesn't hinder your time and try to do it every day at the same time. It will actually help to keep you business on track!
6. Use Technology to Your Advantage
Use client management software such as ACT to ensure easy scheduling of client follow-ups and appointments.
Use colour coding in your client management software. I use pink for my to-do list, green for appointments, blue for teleseminars and speaking engagements and so on.
Set up folders in your email program for each category of client, including a folder for referrals and one for speaking opportunities to help keep you on track.
Set up rules in your email program so that particular emails got directly to their respective folders, saving you lots of time and helping you prioritise your email.
Take some time today to sit down and make a list of all the things that are falling through the cracks in your business (and even at home). Then, look at each item on the list and create a way of systematising the solution to the problem so that it gets handled easily, efficiently and without fail. You'll start living life with a lot more ease and start having more fun, guaranteed!
When you take a little time to set systems in place you will find that they work hard for you, as apposed to you working hard, it affects both your business and your personal life. On the business front, fewer things fall through the cracks, things run smoothly and you have the capacity and time to take on more clients, create more products or simply make more money and who doesn't want to do that!