Where did the time go?

HootSuite - Social Media DashboardI met another VA for coffee a few weeks back and she was bemoaning the fact that despite putting hours and hours into her marketing she gets very little return – in fact, she admitted that per week she spends at least 10 hours on networking meetings, and then on top of that she had perhaps another 5 hours on social media and never had any time at all to write fresh blog posts.

I looked a bit puzzled.

I don’t spend anything like that amount of time on marketing my business.  I’ve always thought that being organised is actually an advanced form of laziness and have accordingly adjusted my activities to suit…  So how do you figure out where to put the effort in?  And what are the biggest timewasters?

  • Timewaster 1: Networking meetings. These work terrifically for certain types of business – ones that every business needs and where personal relationships count: accountants, printers and lawyers all do well out of these.  But when you figure the cost of joining, the weekly fees and your time into the equation, what exactly is the return on investment?  Having done a fair few over the years, I figured that it wasn’t economnically viable for me to get enough business to justify doing this on a pure fees basis any more – and many more businesses have made the same decision, leading to reduced numbers and reduced client prospects for their members.  Expect to be roped into some sort of marketing drive eventually to drum up new numbers… For me, I tend to only go to the ones I really enjoy: Girl Geek Dinners score highly on this!  And thus it’s a business expense, not an investment and any returns I make are a bonus on a fun night out.
  • Timewaster 2: Social Media. Social media is another excellent tool which is much celebrated but usually done pretty ineffectually.  The first problem is that people spend hours and hours on it: I spend no longer than 15 minutes a day monitoring all my social media accounts, using Hootsuite.com.  The second problem is that businesses don’t monitor the results they get from their social media activity.  I can pinpoint exactly which tweet generated which spike in visitors to our website using Google Analytics – it’s worth investing a little time in setting the reporting up properly.  I can also tell you that for our business, Facebook is singularly ineffective at producing quality leads – if you are an entertainment business Facebook is your friend, but if you are a relationship based business Twitter is your little black book!
  • Timewaster 3: Climbing halfway up the mountain. I’m always astonished by the number of people who launch massive campaigns and then fail to do follow up.  Much better to do a smaller number of leads and follow them up properly than to launch a huge campaign which is a one-hit-wonder.  Remember: on average it takes 7 communications before someone will buy from a new provider.  It’s like climbing halfway up the mountain, only to turn back without seeing the view from the top.
  • Timewaster 4: Not knowing where your business comes from. This one is fairly obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people have no idea how their clients found out about them.  You don’t need any fancy tracking at all for this, simply ask all your new leads “Where did you find out about us from?” then keep track of what marketing is working for you – and scrap the marketing which isn’t paying for itself!

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