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.

8 Comments
  • Small Business Marketing
    Posted at 22:14h, 22 December Reply

    How much time should you spend on a weekly basis doing marketing and promotion tasks?
    Not enough!

    In some ways that’s good because I’m busy working for clients – but I have to say, I don’t necessarily agree that marketing time and investment should be inversely proportional to sales cycle time. Really, they’re not linked like that.

    Even a long sales cycle requires a full pipeline, and most companies have an “average” sales cycle – but that doesn’t mean someone can come through the door and buy today when typically it takes 6 months.

    Marketing effort should be commensurate with it’s percent of budget and ROI.

    • waxmarketing
      Posted at 06:35h, 23 December Reply

      A full pipeline is so important! It’s not that you shouldn’t budget your marketing to keep that pipeline coming in – again we’re distinguishing between a budget and your time. The longer the sales cycle the less impact marketing has on bringing in clients vs sales (to me they are very different beasts) . For example, aprofessional services firm selling large projects wins most of their business based on relationships and the reputation of the company. That’s something that can be reinforced by marketing and if they’re a large company, SHOULD be. A solopreneur might close new customers in one meeting…hence more time on finding them via marketing! However a smaller business that may sell widgets to Target, is going to spend most of their time in selling those widgets to Target and probably gains less ROI from ads or direct mail.

      Another way to do it would be to calculate how many of your customers come in through marketing (ads, direct mail, etc again vs sales) and apportion your time accordingly there. The days of using a ‘rule of thumb’ percentage of revenue for determining marketing budget are over. Thank you for bringing that up I probably need to be more careful to make the distinction between sales and marketing.

  • Online Marketing Hamburg
    Posted at 09:57h, 23 December Reply

    I think the question is, what kind of marketing we are talking about. As Online Marketing Manager I can tell you that postion 1 – 3 for important keywords in the Google Search is invaluable. Especially in Germany where Google has a market share of more than 90%. To reach such rankings much time for online marketing is necessary.

    Greetings from Germany

  • Queen of Health and Beauty
    Posted at 16:08h, 29 December Reply

    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. < i totally agree

  • Affiliate Millionaire
    Posted at 15:42h, 03 February Reply

    Yes, the necessary distinction between marketing efforts for a bricks-and-mortar business with an online presence versus a purely online business is difficult to define.

    So many of us IM folks do all of the marketing ourselves. Having blogs like this is actually helpful as it can be really difficult to be objective about one’s own investment in marketing efforts.

    Thanks!

  • greg
    Posted at 19:11h, 14 February Reply

    Yes, the necessary distinction between marketing efforts for a bricks-and-mortar business with an online presence versus a purely online business is difficult to define.

    exactly

  • E-Commerce Guidebook
    Posted at 04:08h, 31 March Reply

    Outstanding article. There’s a lot of great information here, though I did want to let you know something – I am running Ubuntu with the up-to-date beta of Opera, and the look and feel of your blog is kind of rakish for me. I can figure out the articles, but the navigation doesn’t function so solid.

  • Christian
    Posted at 20:34h, 01 August Reply

    good, i have the same feeling,too

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