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Problems in Small Business Marketing 3: Lack of Time

The biggest challenge small business owners face in most any problem is lack of time. After all, you’re in charge of doing anything that needs to be done, and there are only 24 hours in a day. There’s always more things you could be doing, and feel like you should be doing.

So odds are good that you feel overwhelmed all the time, and your to-do list is taller than you are, and adding marketing to that list is the last thing on your mind.

But let me throw out a couple of ideas for you to consider:

Marketing isn’t urgent, but it is important
In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey makes a distinction between “urgent” and “important”.
Of course some tasks can be both — like calling your top client who’s having a problem that has to be fixed before they can leave town this afternoon. But once you’ve completed those “Quadrant 1” tasks, where do you move next? Covey says that the most effective people ignore urgent-but-not-important items in favor of important-but-not-urgent tasks.

The thing is, marketing will never be urgent. No one is going to hold a gun to your head and tell you to improve your website; no one will complain if you fail to engage on social media; you will rarely arrive in the office to find a voicemail from a client screaming about a lack of blog posts.

But even so, it still has to be done. You will never have enough time to do everything you want and need to do, so you’re going to have to prioritize anyway. All I’m saying is too move marketing a little higher up your priority list.

It takes less time than you think
The good news is, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. The best marketing works like a farm or a garden: after some initial set-up, it only takes a couple minutes each day of tending. As long as you stay on top of it, and really do what you’re supposed to every day, it doesn’t pile up and take forever.

(For more information on the kinds of things you can do on a daily basis, check out Chris Penn’s post on how social media is like World of Warcraft.)

Are you managing a Facebook Page for your business? Check up on it while you’re waiting for the barista to steam your latte. Want to run a newsletter of useful links? You’re going to run across them while you’re surfing the internet for fun — just make a bookmarks folder to keep ’em in. Keep a blog? I compose my posts in my head while driving, so that my time at the computer doesn’t have to be very long.

You have to know what to do
The other trick is to have a list of things that need to be done. That way, when you have 30, or 10, or 2 minutes to spare, you don’t waste any of that precious time thinking “What could I be doing? Well, I need to be doing marketing. What could I do to help market my business? Um…. Well… I was thinking about doing a look-over and brainstorming new products, but I don’t really have time for that now. Prices, ditto. I did want to see about getting started on Twitter. I could probably set up an account now and figure out what to do with it tonight… oops, meeting’s started; never mind.”

So to get around the no-time trap, two things are necessary:

(1) You need to be willing to make time to do the little things every day that make a marketing program work, and
(2) You need to have a list of those little things ready to hand, so that they take as little time as possible. Which is why the next trap we discuss is the lack of a marketing plan.

Are you having problems marketing your small business? Bare Minimum Marketing is written just for you. Learn more at the Indiegogo Homepage.