Let’s all say it together: 

Marketing is hard.  

As if there isn’t enough to do when running a business. As business owners, we must embody whole departments from accounts to sales, customer services to admin, shipping to cleaning. If you’re a maker go ahead and add design, manufacturing and packing to that list.  

On top of everything we do, we are expected to be accomplished marketeers.  

Digital marketing itself encompasses countless aspects – we have to be strategists, data managers, creative writers, graphic designers, web developers, UX designers, optimisation specialists, social media experts, influencers, funnel strategists, video producers, analytical… the list goes on. 

To top it off, we have families expecting at least some of our waking time. 

This is where it all gets a bit silly. No wonder the biggest problem I see from small businesses is stress from work overload.  

Do you really have time for marketing? 

This isn’t a trick question. I want you to stop, take a deep breath and really think about whether fumbling around for content at 4.49pm on a Friday, feeling guilty because you’ve not posted anything all week is a sustainable strategy. 

As small business owners, it’s important to remember that your business growth is only relative to your marketing effort – and your marketing effort is dependent on your expertise level. 

In other words, your marketing is only as good as your time availability and skill level. 

Marketing will always have a financial value to your business (ie. you spend money to make money) but it’s easy to forget the human resource value of marketing. 

This can be a hard pill to swallow for any hard-working business owner. It doesn’t mean that you have to have a huge budget to reap rewards. But it does mean that you have to know what you are doing and, crucially, have the realistic time to execute it well.  

There lies the problem. 

Making effective and efficient use of our time for marketing 

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1. Chill out and slow down – stressing about marketing is a complete waste of energy 

If you are feeling stressed about marketing then you are immediately wasting time and energy. If you are worrying about any aspect of marketing, then you are immediately perceiving it as a negative activity. 

Marketing is fun. It’s a chance to be creative and tell stories. It’s your platform to showcase your deep-rooted passion and determination for helping your customers.  

It absolutely should not be the thing keeping you up at night. 

In my experience, 9 out of 10 businesses are wasting time on marketing channels that don’t bring any return. It is all too common for business owners to believe they simply must market themselves on every single social media channel, piling hours and hours into creating content that never gets seen. 

These are usually the people who do everything ad-hoc. Why bother when it will guarantee little return? 

If marketing is stressful or you worry about what you’re doing – then you have to change your approach. 

2. Learn what a well-formed, professionally devised marketing strategy should really look like before you start 

The gift and curse of marketing is that anyone can call themselves a marketeer. It’s an incredibly accessible area anyone with creative flair, tech confidence and a strategic mindset can enter in to.  

Due to this easy accessibility, there is a common misconception that marketing is expendable. If anyone can do it, it can’t be that valuable.  

There is also a common misunderstanding of what small business marketing truly entails. It goes so much deeper than social media, email marketing, website design, content or SEO. 

True strategic marketing is often overlooked, yet it’s the single most important part of marketing any business – no matter how small. It’s the absolute starting point.  

Strategy requires peeling back all the layers of your business to realign them with carefully calculated objectives. Most importantly, it helps you spot the holes in skills and resourcing and work out how to plug them. It’s where you will devise a realistic timeline and plan of action – and help you truly realise whether you have the time to do it yourself. 

Marketing can’t be done without proper strategy.  

3. Stop looking for a quick fix: Don’t rely on free workshops for your skills training 

There is no silver bullet for marketing a small business. Remember you are not the first business owner confused by what you should be doing – and you won’t be the last.  

Everyone blindly struggles with marketing (sometimes for years) until it clicks, and you understand where your time is best placed. In fact, doing things inefficiently helps you measure efficiency better when it comes.  

Workshops and masterclasses are great to give a little insight on practical aspects of digital marketing. But you should always go into a workshop with the expectation that they are nothing more than that – an hour of quick tips and pointers.  

Building meaningful relationships with experts is an invaluable strategy. Connect with other business owners and offer a skills-swap session. 

Understand that marketing is incredibly valuable and doing it “right” for your business means it will come at a cost. Don’t expect advice and training for free – good marketeers have spent a long time in their field and continue to learn and develop new ways of marketing. 

Interested in boosting your business with a real strategy, learn how to plan your marketing and gain practical insights into the dos and don’ts of social media? Register your interest in our upcoming Empowered Marketing Training for women in business.