Here is the secret. Time Management. What you prioritize and what you learn to be important (not urgent) are the keys to your progress. You have to market, but it doesn’t have to consume your whole workday. This comes from the guy who would have cleaned his office and taken the garbage out rather than pick up the phone and make a marketing call. Part of my reluctance was I didn’t know who to call or what to say. I didn’t keep track of who I called or when. I would just shuffle through the business cards I collected and pick somebody that I hadn’t talked to in a while. If you market to consumers, your marketing and sales look different than if you market to professionals or businesses. Figuring out who to attract and who to talk to about their needs is first, then deciding what to say and how to deliver the message is second, but those steps take time as does the actual method. The good news is that everything can be broken down into steps, baby steps. A toddler tries to take a step and falls down. The child’s legs get stronger from this extra exertion and the infant begins to learn balance. The baby actually gets stronger from falling down and getting up. The day comes when they finally start to walk. But not one went from crawling to walking without landing on their diaper a lot. Then, before you know it, they learn to run. Watch out!
One Bite at a Time
I built the PICoach.com website over the course of a couple of months and I am Mr. not-so-tech-savvy. I chose the domain name (GoDaddy), platform (WordPress), the server (Bluehost), and my helper (Blue Sky Pro) I created Content for my HomePage, Services page, About page, Pop-up, and Contact page. I dropped in a YouTube video from the Philly-Philly play from Super Bowl 52. I added Acuity as my scheduler and set up a PayPal and Stripe integrations for the fulfillment, all in under 90 days. I didn’t sit hunched over my Mac Book Pro for days at a time. My usual sessions were from one to two hours at most.
Here is the best part, I did every keystroke, copy, and paste. The benefit: I know how my website is built. I built it from the ground up. I can make changes. I can add blogs and videos. My helpers are available M-F 8-5 mountain time. I am not held hostage by an English as a second language speaker from a far-off land or the web- builder company that wants to charge me every time the website has a hiccup. (My last web guru went MIA and for the week that my company website was down, I had to track him down and ask him not so politely why he updated passwords without telling me and left my fanny hanging in the breeze.)
Your Most Important Business Tool: A Planner or Desk Calendar
How did I do it? I planned each step and then put that one-hour time-block on my calendar. I use a Passion Planner (think DayTimer on steroids). You can use any calendar that has time blocks of at least half-hour increments. I synch my appointments in COZI or Google Calendar depending on who else has to see them. Really simple. I like the physical planner. Call me old school.
I sit down for about thirty minutes on Sunday night after dinner and plan for the week. That practice reduces worry and decision fatigue during the week. I make sure that my exercise times and all my scheduled appointments are in there. I look at my cases and see what days are best to chunk fieldwork together so that I am not running from one side of Connecticut to the other. Monday morning, I talk open cases with our team to make sure that we are all on the same page, usually at 10 am. Why, because it’s on our calendars as a standing appointment. But here is the most important item. I plan to market 55 minutes Monday through Thursday from 8:30 am to 9:30 am. It is the best time for me to reach my target audience with my scripted phone calls. If I can’t call in the morning, the second-best time for me is 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm. For either of those time periods, I put a timer on my phone for 55 minutes. It is a mind trick for focus. Knowing an alarm will go off when my time is done is very satisfying. It makes the marketing a mini-goal or a nice-to-do list item to check off my list.
I market in the morning when my energy is the best. I plan one important morning chore (Marketing) and one important afternoon chore if I don’t have scheduled fieldwork.
Can’t do it because you have the eyeball on early morning surveillance? Market in the afternoon. Too busy with your cases every day? I don’t buy it. I am calling you out on this. Here is how we can test the too-busy excuse.
No, I am not talking about push-ups or kettlebells, I am talking about filling your planner or calendar (with half-hour time blocks) as you finish each task or time block. What did you do Monday-Friday between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm for two weeks? The gaps of free time and wasted time will jump out at you. This exercise will show you how you can plan your travel time better or how you can batch similar tasks more efficiently.
You might even see the rationalizations and justifications you make to avoid pumping lifeblood into your business in the form of planning and marketing. What do I mean by that? When you willingly schedule billable time during what could be your prime marketing time, that is a good example. When you plan early morning travel to avoid rush hour, but you reward yourself with an early afternoon off without doing any marketing is another. Long lunches? Shooting the breeze with a colleague? Write the time down. Be honest with yourself. Hey,I know all the tricks. I was a master of marketing avoidance myself.
Here’s the thing. What you prioritize gets done. It’s that simple, but I wish it was that easy. If you block out time for planning and marketing, you will do it. Week after
week, you will build your marketing muscles by doing the work and the best part is that it becomes easier with practice. Before you know it, you will be walking and then running with your marketing plan. Peaks and valley in your business? Market during the busy times as it will fill up the valleys; much better than trying to market in slow times. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it is the truth, plus you are marketing from a place of abundance and not scarcity. You are marketing to your target audience and not taking all comers. Do you discount when you’re busy? Probably not. Do you discount when you are dying for work? Probably.
This is where my advice gets a little dicey. I planned one evening to work, usually billable hours. You could clean off the desk, sit down with your favorite brew, and work on a 90-minute marketing project if you don’t like leaving the house after dinner. I almost always planned Saturday mornings to sit with my bookkeeper and/or accountant to work on the books. I considered M-F prime time and that was reserved for marketing and billable hours. Why do you do administrative or backroom operations during prime time? I guess if you feel the need to fill up your day, that is one reason. For decades, I planned and executed three 10 hour days, a day and evening (12 hours), treated myself to an 8 hour day on Friday (The traffic going between NYC and Boston is horrendous on Friday afternoons) and 2 hours on Saturday morning before the kid’s sports started.
Yep, that’s right, I planned and executed 52 hours a week, week after week, month after month, year after year with a full pipeline of happy clients or customers. You can too. In the words of the immortal philosopher, Mick Jagger. “Time is on my side, yes it is.” You just need to manage time, rather than have time to manage you. We all get the same 24 hours a day. How do you want to spend them?