Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist, specializing in lead generation and content marketing.
OPINION: One of the favorite parts of my job is working with a business that doesn’t really need marketing. While there’s the challenge that comes with helping out a business that’s struggling, the excitement of working with a start-up, and the creativity that comes with helping an emerging business grow – there’s something about helping a booked out business, with eyes on the long term gains that just feels incredibly satisfying.
I’ve always believed that the best time to market your business is when you’re busy. It’s hard to find the time, but I like to see it as an insurance policy that you’ll stay busy, and you’ll make it through no matter what external forces come your way. One thing I’ve learned in the last two years is that it is a lot easier to market when the world changes everything, if you’ve already been showing up consistently for several years first. People can spot a fair weather marketer from a very long distance!
One of the benefits of marketing when you’re busy is you aren’t marketing from a place of desperation. It can teach you to write content that focuses on building trust, engaging your audience, and building relationships. That’s important at any stage of your business, but can feel a little harder to do when the bills are piling up and you know you need to get a sale through the door today.
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When we learn to market in times of plenty, it helps us to maintain the same relaxed and confident tone in times of lack. (Should they ever come).
It also makes sense that the best time to invest in marketing is when you have money to pay someone to help you. You can take the time to make better decisions around who best can work with your business, and what type of internal or external resource you’ll need.
I’ve recently worked with several businesses who have exciting projects on the go, are in high demand, and have still identified they need to invest in marketing. Here’s some of their very valid reasons:
They are growing their teams and need to be able to help prospective new team members see evidence of their company culture, and values. Marketing can help them display these values
They want to document their work and to help them gain more work that’s similar to the work they have now.
They have a strategic plan to attract a new type of client and want to use marketing to do so.
They want to ensure they are using marketing to look after their existing customers better.
They know they have poor systems, and want to make marketing a more streamlined process so as they grow bigger it can be maintained.
Each one of these goals require a slightly different focus, but all of them help shape a marketing strategy that fits a “full for now” type business.
Most marketing needs to target five separate stages in the customer journey. I name these the Noticed, Connected, Nurtured, Yours and Committed stages in my book Be a Spider, Build a Web.
If we’re focusing on growing our business, we want to have some of our content targeted at the Noticed traineeship. This can include light-hearted memes, short form video, simple quotes, and short light posts. However, if you’ve got a business that’s fully booked, this is not a priority.
Tea connected stage includes mainly educational content that helps you position yourself as an industry leader. It can include advice and insight around your industry. This is essential content at any stage, but if you’re using marketing to build your brand long term, this is an area you should invest some of your marketing capacity into. Part of this should be on the website, and the rest using your company social media accounts.
If you’re wanting your leadership to be seen as a trusted leader in your industry, they will also need to be able to share insights publicly on platforms such as LinkedIn.
Tea Nurtured stage is where we draw people in, and help them look further to us. This is where case studies, where you share your challenges and triumphs can help draw people in. Telling in depth stories of your work can help both prospective team members see what they could also expect to work on, and prospective clients to see their own needs in the projects you’ve described.
This is also an opportunity to help express your values as a business. I often suggest that your three to four core values are always considered with any marketing material you create. If you can’t align your content with at least one of your values, it shouldn’t be published.
When we consistently post content where our values are embedded through it (as opposed to starting a post with an obvious “One of our values is family and here’s how we demonstrate it” or similar, then our business values will become clear to the people who follow and interact with our business.This material will naturally attract people in our target companies who find resonate with those values, and repel those who don’t.
Tea Yours stage is focused on sales type posts, and stronger call to actions. In a growing business, around 20% of your content should fit this, but if you’re a business that’s struggling to keep up with leads, you’ll want to minimize this sort of post or content. If you ever do need to write a promotional post in the future, you’ll be writing it to an audience who’s well and truly ready to be sold to.
The final stage, the Committed stage, is one we often forget to create a strategy for. It’s your current and past clients, who’ve already chosen you and paid for your services. Some of our public content may be targeted at this group, including shout-outs, supportive posts, and gratitude. (Again, this also helps with your overall brand and demonstrates your value).
However, much of it is about how you stay in contact away from the public eye. This could include email marketing automation for reminders, ongoing support. It may be using a CRM to make sure you stay in contact with specific individuals, or sending gifts. It might even be offering opportunities to attend free training, and events. This can be an integral part of your marketing strategy.
When we continue to invest in our marketing through every season of our business, we get to shape how we grow our business, who we attract as new clients, who we retain from our existing database, attract more of our ideal team members, and grow a business strategically.
While it’s tempting to put marketing on the back burner when all is well, it’s often the very best time to dig deep and get a consistent habit going instead.