5 Ways You Can Achieve 'Hands-Off' Marketing
Marketing can be a serious drain on an entrepreneur's time. But there are ways to progress without the heavy workload.
When you're building your company, you'll likely find your marketing efforts becoming a drain on your time. Still, those efforts are crucial, because marketing drives growth.
Yet, the downside: The effort you put in to achieve a balance between your time spent on product development versus your time spent on a go-to-market strategy is going to dominate your schedule -- or that of any budding entrepreneur.
If you feel yourself being dragged into marketing mayhem too often, know that there are ways to drive marketing traction with minimal oversight. Here are five:
1. Build from the top down.
All entrepreneurs have read a few books on popular market strategies as they've mulled the possibility of starting a business. Then, once they've made the initial investment, and found a place to work, they will begin putting together core pieces of their marketing strategy. Often, they'll do the legwork themselves, and hire junior marketers merely to help fill in the gaps.
A founder’s knowledge of his or her marketing strategy, however, can lead to a level of oversight from which it's hard to backpedal. That's why a solid layer of marketing management should be established between the founder and the team; otherwise, the founder’s time will be burdened.
If you're that founder, investing in an experienced senior marketer to build out your team, someone who can come on board early, will put you in the position to dip in and out as you see fit.
2. Use a modern, multi-discipline agency.
Before putting in the significant amount of time and effort it takes to build out a marketing department, consider whether your needs can be met via outsourcing. Your marketing plan may have several core elements that will be best handled by an agency, saving you time for training and trial-and-error efforts. And that outfit won't be hard: There are plenty of modern marketing agencies which specialize in managing email outreach, social media outreach and the researching of leads.
Many of these tasks can also overlap with those your sales department handles, such as lead qualification and on-site customer engagement. A company I know, called Task Drive, for example, covers email outreach, lead research and “social selling.” It is worth checking a site like Agency Spotter to find a reputable agency for your own specialization.
3. "Set and forget" subscribers.
One great thing about modern marketing is what you can do with minimal effort. There are several things you can set up and forget about; and they pay dividends.
Consider subscription forms, for instance. These are different from contact forms. Subscription forms are what a visitor fills in to give consent to a company sending a newsletter or regular updates. While a subscription form can be part of your contact form funnel, it is often a separate one because it requires a name and email address.
Building up your email list is also rucial (see some tips here), as email marketing can be a powerful part of almost any business’s marketing strategy. The forms don’t have to be on your site, either. Budget permitting, you can place forms on other sites to act as honey traps for customers' email addresses. Just make sure you are honest when collecting thoser email addresses.
Push notifications are another element not to miss out on. To use them, put an opt-in box on a visitor’s screen when that person comes to your site; the person then accepts or declines. If the visitor clicks "accept," you can "push" him or her a clickable notification whenever you want. Usually, these notifications will be sent when you’re promoting new content and want your push notification subscribers to see it. Because this subscriber list will grow organically once it's set up, it will a great way to grow a future marketing channel with little effort.
4. Use a SEMRush tool.
The SemRush tool has been around for a while, and it keeps getting better. If you are looking for a good overview of your website(s), content or competitor content, this tool will save you time. It can generate content reports and recommend what content you need to axe, update or rewrite. It can help with competitor research and SEO tracking. It can also act as a hub for all your social media posting and tracking (see point 5).
In short, there are a lot of reports companies produce that take a day or two to research and write. When you use SEMRush, those reports could take minutes.
5. Ban social media activity.
Social media is an important marketing channel for most emerging companies. It gives you direct access to the people who engage with your products and services, and it offers the opportunity to advertise based on interests and demographics. However, many companies get lost when they fall down the social media rabbit hole; they forget why social media started in the first place. Remember? It was supposed to be fun.
The thing is, however, that social media works best when it’s organic. By shifting your social effort to your commuting time, or lunch breaks, you'll still have plenty of time to make and schedule posts, without treating them like other work tasks.
Of course, some companies do need to be rigid about answering social media queries on time and have a structured posting strategy. But ask yourself, Is that what my company needs right now? Are my employees having fun?
Always make sure you keep a healthy balance between your marketing efforts and the other aspects of your business, as your time is valuable. There are many ways to shave down the time you spend on marketing, and many tools and people that can help. You just have to find them.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor