If you’re a small business owner or an agency owner you’re mostly playing defence… waiting for the next project, the next client or the next pay cheque to come through. It’s tough. And at times even your business’ survival becomes a question.
Of course, the simplest way to resolve this challenge is to keep your prospecting pipeline full. But I think the bigger challenge is to keep your marketing assets (collaterals, content assets) in order. Yup, good ole’ content marketing minus the budget and an elaborate strategy.
As simple as it may sound, this is the most difficult part when it comes to business development. Most small and medium businesses (SMBs) don’t bother with these assets thinking that their reputation (and relationships) will precede them. Only in the most ideal world — which you and I know doesn’t exist.
So, let’s get practical here and list down the bare essentials that you can focus on and get started right now:
- Brainstorm what your potential customer is looking for (create your customer avatar, do a keyword analysis and research on what they’re searching) because creating content on those lines will resonate with them and they’ll find it valuable. Stick with 3-5 content types (infographic posters, short decks, one-pagers, explainer videos, or webinars) that is easy to consume.
- Don’t do this alone. Involve your team into this. Gather inputs and delegate. Ask for help. Sure, they may not be writers or content creators but they can try. Outsourcing once they’ve taken a dig at the project will save so much time and money. If you’re an agency, you’re in luck! Make this part of your team’s key deliverables and get this done.
- One great way is to work on finishing at least 2 types of content (or perhaps a single type of content but two different assets) each month. It’s much less pressure and quite doable for most small operations.
- Be where your customers are — Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter. Follow them, connect with them and DM them. That’s direct marketing. And that’s what works. The feedback is instant. But it’s hard work. Email marketing is fun but the sub-30% open rates are sad because they’re just open rates not response rates. And you’re looking to put food on the table.
- You have to have a blog that will serve as a home base for all the content that you’re creating and putting online. Besides that you will also need to be present on your preferred platform (where your target audience resides) to post content natively (don’t worry about content duplication, not right now) including either video or audio content. Remember the focus is to create content that’s easy to consume.
- Work on creating at least one keynote (20-45 minute talk, usually 45 minute talks with 15 minutes of Q&A) that talks about your expertise. The idea isn’t to sell your services from the stage (though you can do that, but it’s a little advanced and can definitely wait for now) but to establish yourself as an authority and help your business gain credibility. People don’t just buy what you sell, but they buy you. Let me give you an example: if you’re an agency that’s into social media marketing, you can talk about the “state of social in 2018/19/whatever year you’re reading this.” I manage a marketing support agency, so I like to talk about Design Thinking because that’s a hot topic and most people are curious as to what it’s all about. And here’s the big one — Design Thinking workshops are fucking expensive! And I’m sharing THAT content for free!
Are you sensing what’s the going on here? Creating and share value, that’s the quickest way to establish yourself as an authority. Everything else that you do for developing your business will need to be tapered down to something super-specific. You don’t have time to bullshit yourself into thinking that you’re working when more than 70% of the people you’re reaching out to aren’t even reading your emails! Or worse — they’re going into spam!
And I don’t know why the thought of reaching out to 9,000 people in month one-by-one vs with a single click has a different ring to it. You may think the latter is smart and modern but honestly, your customers don’t give a damn about how smart and modern you are but if you’re making them feel that way. Are you?
These ideas aren’t wholly tactical, they’re based on good old logic and practical thinking. If you’re reading this in 2025, chances are this is still relevant — at least you can use it as a template to get moving.