It’s no secret that I strongly suggest that solo entrepreneurs and businesses with small marketing teams should start small and grow their strategy as you gain traction. This can be beneficial for a number of different reasons:
- It gives you a bit more time to test your product and tweak your strategy before hitting “the masses” with your glorious brand story.
- There are only so many hours in the day to get things done. If you are stretched thin and overworked, you will likely be even less productive and your entire strategy will suffer leaving you exhausted, six months into your launch, and nowhere close to hitting your short term or long-term goals.
- You don’t know what you don’t know. While you should do market research before launching your brand and/or marketing strategy so you get to know your market, sometimes, you just can’t predict how well certain strategies will work (or not!). Plus, with new skills and platforms, you will need to take into account the learning curve and time it takes to really build processes that you are comfortable with.
All reasons lead to a “slow and steady wins the race” type of attitude. Often, that is not what people want to hear. The prospect of going viral and having explosive growth seems attractive, but it also comes with challenges. And if you speak with most entrepreneurs who are “overnight successes” most will tell you that it didn’t happen overnight. Success is generally a product of hard work, experience, and learning from your mistakes so you do things differently the next time.
So, what happens if you decide you want to grow your marketing strategy – take it to the next level. Here are a few things you can do to help you adjust to the extra workload.
Make sure you are taking calculated risks
Any new tactic you add to your overall marketing strategy should be carefully planned out and researched. While there will be a certain level of trial and error to get it just right, you should always start with a baseline of knowledge so you aren’t going in blind. For example, if you are adding a new social platform to your digital marketing strategy, is your target audience on that platform and how do they use it? If you are planning a brand experience, what kinds of things have your audience experienced before from competitors?
Plan out your resources
Your resources budget is an important factor, and you know I’m not just talking about financial budgets. You have to consider all resources such as financial budget, time, skills, people, etc. Where time is concerned, consider the time it will take to execute the strategy – because that will take away from other things you are working on. Skills and people are often wrapped up together. Do you have anyone on your team (if you work with a team!) who has the skills to do the extra work and how many people will it take to carry out your plans?
Create a timeline
While it is important to know how much time you need to dedicate to your new additional tasks, you should also plan out what the entire strategy looks like with an overall timeline. This will force you to set goals and identify what success will look like so you have something to work towards. Once you know the end goal, figure out what happens leading up to that. What is the launch timeline? What do you want to accomplish in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, etc. Building milestones into your timeline will allow you to stay on track (and celebrate every. Single. Win along the way). You should also identify whether you have a make-or-break point where you can decide if the new strategy isn’t working for you. If you do have a timeline in mind for that, give the strategy enough time to breathe.
Make sure you have the right skills
When building a marketing strategy, we often start out with things we are most familiar with, which is why you hear so many people talking about stepping out of your comfort zone (myself included!). If you plan on adding something you aren’t fluent in, can you take a course? A workshop? Read articles (how to guides)? Watch YouTube videos? Give yourself time to learn the skills you will need to execute the strategy properly and remember that if you are learning a new skill, it will take longer to get to your end goal.
Hire an expert
Sometimes, you either just don’t have the time to do something or you don’t have the time to learn how to do it – no shame in that. In these cases, consider hiring an expert. A great agency will be willing to work with you to the level you are at, whether that is building a strategy for you to execute after some training, full implementation, or somewhere in between.
Candace Huntly is Founding Partner at SongBird Marketing Communications, an award-winning agency working to take organizational and individual brands to the next level. With a passion for all things related to creativity and strategy, she specializes in business intelligence, marketing & branding, content strategy & development, media & influencer relations, and social media. Basically, if you need to put your brand, product, or cause in the public eye, she will find a way to do it, while making the approach unique to you.
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A version of this article was originally posted to the SongBird Marketing Communications blog.