Marketing used to be a fairly straightforward process. In the digital marketing age, however, the simplicity of past promotional strategies has gone by the wayside. If you feel overwhelmed as you try to promote your small- or medium-sized business (SMB), you’re not alone. Here are several tips to help you streamline your marketing process.
How to Streamline Business Processes
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of marketing recommendations, it’s important to understand what “streamlining” a business process means in the first place.
The concept of streamlining business processes typically refers to breaking down and analyzing your current methods, identifying important areas — either that are working or that aren’t working — and then attempting to adjust and reduce your current setup. This should all be done with an eye towards both having fewer errors and delays and increasing efficiency, quality, and productivity.
Tips for Streamlining Your Marketing Process
Each area of business can be streamlined in different ways. Here are a few of the easiest options to increase the efficiency, quality, and productivity of your marketing efforts in particular.
Set Reasonable Goals and Objectives
The first step in any marketing strategy should be to define what you’re trying to accomplish. What are the benchmarks of marketing success within your organization? While these can vary depending on the situation (social media versus your website content, for instance), here are a few common marketing goals:
- Boosting your brand recognition.
- Driving traffic to your website.
- Promoting products.
- Converting sales.
- Addressing customer feedback.
Whatever your specific marketing objectives are, it’s essential that you begin by setting attainable goals right from the start. This will give you a clear guide to work towards.
Create Guidelines for Your Team
Next, make sure to define your marketing process. This is helpful for internal cooperation and collaboration. Consider creating shared resource documents for the following marketing areas:
- Voice and tone guidelines for your brand across all of your marketing channels.
- Official company-wide grammar and punctuation rules.
- Content creation guidelines and approval processes to maintain consistency throughout your branded content.
By having these documents available, you will be able to streamline much of the work required to train new staff members, and you will also likely avoid the need to spend excessive time on edits in the future.
Establish a Marketing Schedule and Shared Workspace
Whether you’re operating with a small marketing team or all by yourself, it’s always useful to have a schedule to keep you on track.
With so many different marketing options available, having a universal marketing calendar to store everything and to help you keep track of your deadlines can keep everything running smoothly. You can use something as simple as Google Calendar to house your marketing schedule in an easy-to-access location.
In addition, it’s important to set up a central remote workspace where you can store all of your marketing content as it’s being created. Platforms like Trello and Asana are great for this kind of activity, as they can incorporate deadlines, share files, organize workflow, and are typically free to use, especially on the scale of most SMBs.
Choose Your Marketing Channels Wisely
One easy way to cut down on your marketing needs is to be selective about what marketing channels you use. Each industry and customer base has its preferences, and it’s worth taking some time to conduct market research to discover what channels your customers prefer. Some of the most common marketing channels include the following:
- Email: A carefully cultivated email list gives you direct access to a customer base that has opted in to hear your message.
- Social Media: From Facebook to Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and even in unique platforms like Snapchat, social media provides incredible access to a variety of customer demographics.
- A Website: A quality e-commerce website complete with a company blog filled with quality content is a common way to gain search engine traffic and generate customer leads.
- Traditional Marketing: This includes everything from print ads to billboards, radio, and even television. While pricey, these can be excellent ways to reach customers, especially in local markets.
Take the time to study your market, industry competitors, and customer expectations, and then choose the marketing channels that will yield the best results with minimal effort. This will free you up to avoid spending resources and effort in areas that aren’t worth your time.
Automate, Delegate, and Outsource When You Can
You can streamline your marketing, or at least portions of it, by taking it off of your plate entirely. This can be done in a few different ways:
- Automate: From lead generation to conversion and even content creation, there are many marketing processes that can be automated, even on the scale of an SMB. Just make sure you take the time to go about automating your methods properly.
- Delegate: If you’re fortunate enough to have a staff, you may be able to delegate some of the more mundane marketing items to others. Tasks, like generating basic content for your website or posting regularly on social media, can easily be passed off to an employee.
- Outsource: If you don’t have the manpower to get certain marketing tasks done well, you may want to outsource them entirely. Hiring a freelancer or a marketing agency gives you affordable access to professional services without the need to hire a full-time employee.
Whether you’re automating, delegating, or outsourcing, all three options provide an easy way to lighten your marketing burden.
Be Ready to Adapt
Finally, always be ready to adapt your marketing process when necessary. The modern world is changing at break-neck speeds, and stubbornly sticking to a method or marketing strategy that worked yesterday may slow you down tomorrow.
Make use of marketing analytics to track results, compare them to your goals and objectives, and then tailor your marketing process to keep it as streamlined as possible.
Prioritizing the Marketing Process
From passing off tasks to creating a schedule, setting up guidelines, and choosing your marketing channels with care, there are many ways for an SMB to streamline its marketing process.
The essential factor is that you actually make an effort to simplify things in the first place. It’s easy for a small business to let marketing slide as you run around tending to product development, customer service, payroll, and the numerous other demands that plague small business owners. However, it’s important to take the time to cultivate your marketing efforts in order to avoid slumping sales and to keep things successfully humming for the long term.