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Megan Rutherford: Sales and Marketing Column

Megan Rutherford: Sales and Marketing Column
Megan Rutherford has a diverse background in sales, marketing, and public relations. She has 15+ years of experience in helping small businesses grow their unique markets. Certified as an inbound marketer, Megan specializes in internet & email marketing, search engine optimization, social media, and more. Offline activities include direct mail marketing, public relations, and event planning.

Techniques for Smarter (NOT HARDER) Marketing

Techniques for Smarter (NOT HARDER) Marketing

Marketing can be a time suck, and the famous saying goes that ‘there is never enough time in the day.’ As a small business professional, the demands can be challenging and devoting enough time to marketing can be difficult, if not nearly impossible. Working smarter doesn’t mean getting done with tasks quicker, it relates to setting up systems and processes to automate the tedious and monotonous tasks. Trying to cram everything into a work week typically leads to more stress and pressure felt both in the workplace and translating over to personal life. Furthermore, urgent tasks take precedence and marketing tends to get put on the back burner. Can you relate?

Interruptions happen from unexpected phone calls to excessive emails, which distracts from the overall time and energy of completing essential tasks. No matter what size of small business you are, many free and low-cost solutions focus on automating marketing and integrate efforts seamlessly together. Keeping track of prospective and existing customers, email automation, website updates and maintenance, social media platform monitoring and posting, among other day-to-day marketing activities all take time. Let’s review five proven ideas for small businesses to streamline marketing efforts.

1. Use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Solution

Implementing a CRM solution to manage a business’s interactions and relationships with potential customers and existing customers helps to simplify marketing efforts and assists in improving business relationships. This useful tool can not only aid in contact management but also sales management, tasks associated with contacts, and increase productivity.

2. Automated Scheduling Software

By utilizing marketing automation software (i.e., social media monitoring solutions, email marketing services, calendars/ appointment setting, and other similar types) redundant tasks can be streamlined and better integrated into the marketing mix. A prime example is the time it takes to post to multiple social networks. Having an automation strategy for social media can ensure minimal time spent, yet still maintaining a consistent online presence. Email campaigns can quickly be set up through popular email marketing services, these solutions allow for full automation and provide in-depth reporting features. There is a wide range of options for marketing automation, and there is always room to expand the marketing automation efforts.

3. Plan Ahead

Having a good workflow and using time blocking and calendaring can be very beneficial. Plan your day through a list of to-dos for tasks and projects, all prioritized, which serve as a roadmap for the day. Many experts will say to work in sprints of 45-minutes, meaning that you close out of social media and email to strictly focus on a specific ‘to-do’ item task. After the 45 minutes goes by, take a 10 to 15-minute break to catch up on email and other items.

4. Work Strategically with Others

Improve productivity by setting up systems to work smarter with others; it could be as simple as setting a weekly meeting to update and realign tasks or reduce the amount of back and forth emailing with a project management solution. By improving work input and output, you will ensure that everyone within the business is on the same page and completing the necessary tasks needed without repetition. It also adds in a level of accountability.

5. Embrace Technology

Marketing is predominately gone ‘digital’ today and seems to be constantly evolving. By harnessing technology, marketing objectives and goals can be achieved. There is a large variety of marketing technology tools ranging from Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) based tools to larger solutions. Marketing technology, or martech, is just a smart business choice. Being a tech-savvy can set a small business apart in the marketplace. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) both have the power to transform the marketing world, we have already begun to see a small glimpse of how they can work through chatbots.

From social media, a CRM, web analytics, email automation, and lead generation, the list for streamlining systems to work smarter is possible. Managing the marketing workflow does take time but integrating some (or all) of the above five techniques can lead to smarter, not harder, marketing efforts. Optimizing processes helps to reduce redundancy and wasted time significantly. By working more efficiently and effectively, small businesses can excel with marketing and ensure their viability well into the future.

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