Marketing…who’s got time for that? (Step 3)

Marketing…who’s got time for that? (Step 3)

How much time should you spend on a weekly basis doing marketing and promotion tasks? It will vary of course but there are some rules I’ve learned working with a broad swath of companies and industries over the past couple decades including B2B, B2C, online and retail.Feel free to poke holes in my theories here…but tell us all WHY so we can learn from your successes.

Rule # 1 – The amount of your time spent on marketing should be inversely proportional to the length of the sales cycle. If you have a sales cycle that’s more than a month long chances are you’re a services firm or some other B2B enterprise.  Marketing is not as important as building sales and relationships in this business. You only want to spend as much time as it takes to provide your account executives with the credibility and digital footprint they need to advance a sale, especially if you’re B2B. Accenture in my opinion was incredibly egotistical to hire someone like Tiger Woods for zillions of dollars.  Although I’m sure it was a fun spiff for all those CEO’s they work for, it wasn’t needed.

Rule #2 – Everyone should spend 6-8 hours flushing out a marketing plan in January. Don’t just hire a consultant to do it…spend at least two half-days on it with that consultant. One half-day to brainstorm strategies and tactics and another for review. If you need a template for a good marketing/communications plan let me know in the comments.

Rule #3 – If you don’t have a marketing manager or consultant put your bossiest admin in charge of it. You know that person..the one that will act like a drill sergeant making sure each task has been executed. Marketing and promotions are not that hard. With some good guidance from you the admins can usually drive a lot of this stuff.

Rule #4 – Make reviewing your marketing results part of your financial review. You must look at the books on a regular basis. Marketing has a direct effect on revenue, even if it’s small. Add 15 minutes to review your marketing measurements when you look at your books.

Rule #5 – When it’s really busy add more marketing hours to your schedule. Sound counter-intuitive? Well it’s not. The reason you experience dramatic peaks and valleys in revenue is because when it’s super busy…you’re not planting the seeds of new business. (Make your salespeople follow that rule for cold calls and such…the results are dramatic) Take more time off when it’s slow to compensate.

Alright, I know I didn’t answer the question directly so here you go I’ll put myself on the line here:

  • For a small business that’s primarily B2b with a long sales cycle, you can probably get by with spending an hour or two every other week on marketing (AFTER January)
  • For a small business that’s primarily B2c with a short sales cycle or retail storefront, spend 2-3 hours a week. Add an hour when it’s busy.
  • For a small business that sells mostly online, you better be spending 20% of your daily tasks on outbound marketing. Especially if you’re riding a wave of trendiness ala Crocs.

These are ALL after you’ve got some traction. For more on marketing for startups, here’s a great article by Anita Campbell in Open Forum.

Keep in mind marketing tasks are usually in that corner of the graph where we’re supposed to spend most of our time – but as small business owners we never do. I think it’s non-urgent, essential or something like that? Funny enough, even Stephen Covey who invented all this stuff – I swear just to make us feel guilty – hasn’t had time to update his blog since early October. Add a little bit each week and soon you’ll have your own habits.