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A Time To Market

A time to market your to-do list isn't complete without this key practice--and neither is your business.
October 15, 2008
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/198150

Marketing is such an important part of your business that it must be practiced daily, much like a habit, in order to really get the attention and momentum it deserves. That can be a tall order for a lot of startup entrepreneurs because so many other things call out for your attention.

The surest way to keep your focus on the important task of marketing is to schedule it as you would appointments with your best customers. When you have an appointment marked on your calendar, you'll most likely keep it.

Making appointments for and creating a systematic approach to marketing is a great way to ensure you take a short- and long-term approach to building marketing momentum in your business.

Here's how to schedule marketing into your busy life:

Annually: Create a wall-size annual marketing calendar that allows you to look pretty far forward and schedule bigger tasks, such as redesigning the website, hiring a marketing assistant and so on. Consider this an annual strategic planning exercise that combines nicely with a compelling set of marketing goals for the year.

In addition, use this strategy session to create a marketing score card--a list of simple tactical actions that, if performed routinely, will move you in the direction of your goals. If your goal is to obtain five referrals each month, a score-card item might be to attend a networking event or send a handwritten note to a customer.

Monthly: When you start big-picture planning, things can get, well, big, and you can get overwhelmed. So each month you should assign a theme or focus. For example, make December your PR month and develop a strategy to get your marketing humming along. Then you can make January blog month, and so on.

Weekly: If you plan to accomplish your assigned theme goals each month, you'll need a weekly plan of action with steps and responsibilities. Going back to our PR theme example, in the first week of December, you'll focus on building a killer media list for your industry and community; the second week, your goal might be to create a media kit. The key to making this work is scheduling marketing appointments throughout the week with your staff or an outside resource to make sure the action steps move forward.

Daily: For your daily marketing plan, you've got two tasks. One is to prepare for and keep your marketing appointments on your daily to-do list. The second is to consult your score card and see how many items can be done today. To make it even more fun, you can assign a score to each item and set a daily point goal.

If you can keep marketing front and center as you go about your day, you'll be amazed at how easily it becomes a part of the air you breathe.

John Jantsch is a veteran marketing coach, an award-winning blogger and the author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide. Find out more at ducttapemarketing.com.