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You know that old cliché “time waits for no man”? Well, neither does your business! Stuff gets in the way, emergencies pop up, there’s the occasional monkey wrench and sometimes even good news can derail your day.
(Good news: it’s nearly Labor Day weekend and heck, I’m taking a long one!)
But you can’t put your business on hold just because you’re having a good – or bad – day. If you’re one of those lucky people who can disappear to St. Lucia for two months while the gears spin seamlessly without you, then you can probably stop reading now.
But if you’re like most people I know, you can take periodic and scheduled vacations but ultimately you’re the one running your business. And you may be able to schedule a vacation but you can’t schedule “the other stuff”.
So how do you run a business and keep your marketing on track when life gets in the way?
Here are some simple ideas for dealing with “stuff”… without going crazy, without micromanaging and without listening to everything come to a screeching halt when the unexpected happens.
Follow The “What If I Get Hit By A Bus” Rule
Or if you want to be a little more optimistic, call it the “what if I win the lottery” rule.
The point is that you should have a contingency plan for unexpected events.
If I get hit by a bus right now…. What happens to this blog post? Who do my clients call to get their websites updated? Are the bills and invoices organized so someone else can pick up where I left off?
Personally, the answer to, “Do I have a plan?” is usually and sometimes and well, not really for THAT thing.
But we’re big fans of process over here and when we see a gap where one should be we get busy putting it in place. Having a process for everything – from the simple things like “how to follow up on a client email” to more complex things like “what’s involved in the setup, execution and promotion of a blog post?” – will save you the time of figuring that out every time.
The word “process” sounds scarier than its two syllables might imply. But if you simply look at it as “the same steps I take every darn time I do this thing” then it becomes a lot easier to manage, mentally as well as physically.
The thing about having processes is that they’re fantastic for those times when you’re not around to manage them.
The best kinds of processes will let someone else pick up the reigns where you dropped them as you absconded to Tahiti for the weekend.
In our business, we have a process for how blogs are posted. And if you do something similar, I bet you’ll find things happen much easier. For example, we have a step-by-step instruction guide to exactly how we choose, output, format and upload our feature photos. We have another for exactly how we format, set up, schedule and post a blog.
Trust me, it’s not. All you need is five minutes to sit down and write out your steps and then five minutes of someone else’s time because you’re going to ask that person to follow your directions!
You may need five more to refine those steps when your guinea pig gets stuck… but in the end you’ll be able to walk out your office door, call up your assistant or partner or intern and say, “Hey, just on a jaunt to Rome for a sec… could you get that blog up?”
Do that for your social scheduling. For your email campaigns. For whatever regular marketing you do. And whether you plan a hiatus or end up on an unexpected jaunt to Rome, everything can hum along generating leads without you.
Doesn’t it feel like we’re constantly running just to catch up? “Busy” is the hallmark of the millennium and “deadline” usually means “that thing I missed two days ago”.
Take it from someone who is a real treadmill-junkie – it is possible to get ahead of schedule!
Part of that is getting real about setting deadlines. Whenever I’m inclined to tell someone I can have something done in two days, I make it five. Why? Because it usually takes me four and then I have one for buffer!
Be honest: would you rather give yourself two days and be two late? Or five and be one early? What do you think your customers would prefer?
The other part of getting ahead is planning ahead. You need a calendar. Perhaps multiple calendars. I’ve got a Google calendar. I’ve got an editorial calendar. I’ve got a social scheduling calendar. I’m calendar-happy.
And you should be too! Plan your weeks and even months out ahead of time. What projects will you be working on? What deadlines do you expect to have? What meetings, events, product launches, blog posts, marketing campaigns, special deals…?
Here’s a perfect example that worked like a charm yesterday:
After being sucked into a whirlwind of projects, I quit for the day, made some chicken that both Ralph and my cat appreciated and settled in with a glass of wine and some Netflix.
That was, until Ralph said, “What’s your post about for tomorrow?”
At which point I drank some more wine and pretended I didn’t hear him. The thing is, I never wrote a post. Drat you, whirlwind!
But I also have a folder full of blog posts that are anywhere from roughly sketched out to almost completely done.
So today, dear readers, that’s what you see here! And what more appropriate topic to polish up for today than one about planning ahead?
Fifteen minutes (and another glass of wine) later, we’ve got ourselves a post.
How did that happen? Well, not by accident. We set aside a dedicated writing time each week and even if I don’t need to write for a deadline, I do it anyway. Then I put my posts in the can and save them for a wine-y day.
You can do that, too. Sketch out some blog posts and throw them in a folder (add in your step-by-step process for posting and you won’t even have to be the one to finish them up!)
Schedule some social updates.
Queue up a few marketing emails.
Remember that calendar? See what’s on it and get yourself ahead of the curve.
Now Go Enjoy A Long Weekend
Making your marketing happen almost automatically is not complicated. It takes two things:
And dedicated time.
You know how there are certain things you do every day? Like step out of bed? Brush your teeth? Eat… at some point? Check your email/Facebook page before you can even see straight in the morning?
If you make marketing tasks as rote as that, they’ll get done.
Just like our writing days.
We all get caught in the whirlwind sometimes. And sometimes things slide. Yes, there are days that even despite all my preaching, I don’t manage to get things done. Blog posts never get scheduled. Social updates don’t make their way onto social networks.
But if you take a bit of time to come up with a few basic processes, then give yourself the dedicated time to make them work, I bet you’ll find, like me, that a lot more happens a lot more often.
Now, do YOU need help getting your processes in place? Let me know! I’d love to help you get your marketing humming so that you can keep getting leads… even if you’re doing no more than getting a nice tan.