So, have you been busy lately?

If you’re like most independent professionals, the answer is a resounding “YES!” Between answering the phone, responding to email, managing details for multiple projects, checking to-dos off your lists, keeping up with Quickbooks, running to the bank, dropping packages off at the post office, you’re lucky to have time for lunch!

For many business owners, the busyness isn’t translating into depositing more checks, which is the point of all this busyness, right?

1. Can you relate? Do you ever feel like you are just too busy to market your business?
It’s the classic conundrum: There is so much to do that you don’t have time to do what is most important: find new customers. Hey, I ain’t pointing fingers … I can be just as guilty as the next guy. Our busyness can be our doom if we aren’t careful.

So what does the busy one-man-show super-businessperson do to avoid the busyness trap?

2. Leverage as much administrative work as possible. Most independent professionals need to value their time at at least $100 per hour. In so doing, you quickly realize how expensive it is for you to be doing $15-$35 per hour tasks! You truly are cutting into your bottom line when you hang on to those responsibilities … instead, fill your schedule up with $100 per hour work and pay someone else $15-$35 per hour to handle the details. Not enough $100-per-hour work to keep you busy? All the more reason why you should leverage-leverage-leverage so you can focus on finding new customers and collecting checks!
If you don’t feel that you can leverage these tasks out right away, at least compartmentalize them into the evenings or weekends and dedicate your best hours to finding or delivering $100-per-hour work.

3. Spend time marketing your business every single day. Mark LeBlanc, author of Growing Your Business, recommends that every single day, you do three activities of high value (called “High Value Activities”) framed by time, quantity or money (ie. “Spend 30 minutes on a new article,” “Attend one networking event,” or “Send out 250 postcards to my list”), to grow your business. The purpose of these activities (which are generally aligned with your Marketing Gameplan) is to help you to find and convert more prospects.

This step is not optional. I know, I know … you’re busy! Welcome to the club. The question is … do you want to check things off your list, or cash checks? We serve our customers and ourselves best when we keep our priorities straight by creating the cash flow to hire and/or outsource to the team that will give our customers fabulous service and give us the time and quality of life we want. Remember, there is nothing more important to the success of your business than putting effort toward finding new clients every single day.

4. Eliminate the mental blocks that keep you from getting out into the marketplace. Oftentimes, the reason we procrastinate our marketing efforts is because we aren’t confident in our ability to connect with and attract prospects.

Carl Potter, professional speaker and author of Who is Responsible for Safety?, recalls a time in his business when he struggled with this very thing. “Like most speakers, authors, trainers, facilitators, consultants (you get the drift), I worked hard to grow my business every year. In 2001, after eight years of persistent work, I asked my wife Deb to join the business with the idea that she would sell my services while working on her PhD.

“A few weeks after we began working together, I noticed that Deb was struggling with the marketing. So I said to her: All you have to do is tell people what I do! With a stressed voice, Deb replied, But I don’t know what to tell them you do! That was a defining moment in our business.

*Gulp!*

Sound familiar? If articulating your value to the marketplace has you stuck, you must make it a priority to get UNstuck as soon as possible. Connecting with prospects is the first step in finding customers. If you can’t manage this step, you’re dead. Figure out your value to your customers, and articulate it in one or two sentences. That’s all the time you have in a crowded marketplace to connect!

5. Commit to consistency! Besides poor positioning (see # 3), poor execution is the number one killer of marketing success. Consider that it takes 5-7 touches within a reasonable period of time (two to three months) before your prospects compartmentalize you the top of their minds (this is referred to as the Marketing Rule of 7). From there, they’ll need to have a problem that your solution will solve before they will call upon you.

Jay Conrad Levison, author of Guerilla Marketing, puts it this way:

The psychology of marketing requires basic knowledge of human behavior. Human beings do not like making decisions in a hurry and are not quick to develop relationships. They’ve been stung in the past and they don’t want to be stung again.

That’s why they process your marketing communications in their unconscious minds, eventually arriving at their decisions because of an emotional reason even though they may say they are deciding based on logic. They factor a lot about you into their final decision — how long they’ve heard of you, where your marketing appears, how it looks and feels to them, the quality of your offer, your convenience or lack of it, what others have said about you, and most of all, how your offering can benefit them.

Although they state that they now want what you’re selling, and they do it in a very conscious manner, you can be sure they were guided by their unconscious minds. The consistent communicating of your benefits, your message and your name has penetrated their sacred unconscious mind. They’ve come to feel that they can trust you and so they decide to buy.

Consistency builds awareness and trust with your prospects, two very important components of their buying process. You have the power to give them both—and you must if you want them to become a customer! Good marketing executed consistently works. When executed poorly, it’s a waste of time and money.

6. Create marketing plans that can be executed with as little “thinking” as possible. So often, the reason we aren’t executing our marketing plans is because … there is no plan! It requires so much emotional and mental energy to figure out “what to do next” for our marketing each day that we abandon our good intentions and focus on the tasks that we can check off our lists, thus sealing our own fate.

If you will spend a couple hours at the beginning of the week or month (or even year!) to determine the frequency of your marketing initiatives and the individual steps for each active marketing strategy (ie. ensuring that you have the marketing copy, designed pieces, postage, etc on hand to execute the strategy), you will virtually guarantee your success.

7. Be wary of customizing your work. Have you ever had a client request that you speak to their group, but instead of your normal presentation, they want you to speak on a different subject? Or have you ever had someone want you to consult with them, but instead of your normal process, they want you to focus on some other areas they need help?

If so, you’ve likely had to spend an extra ten or twenty hours (or more!) customizing your work for this client, and they likely haven’t paid you any more than the last customer who purchased your pre-packaged services for the same amount. Before you know it, you’re averaging $10 an hour for your time. How frustrating!

Once you’ve determined how you best serve the marketplace, develop your offerings so they can be delivered with what Mark LeBlanc calls “zero prep.” And if a client wants you to deviate from your process, make sure they are paying you very well to do so!

(So, you do have one or two primary offerings that you are actively promoting in the marketplace, right? You aren’t confusing people by telling them you do 10 different things are you?)

8. Before you start a new task, as yourself, “How will this help me grow my business?” This is a powerful question! By simply making a conscious effort to prioritize tasks that grow your business, you will naturally focus on the more valuable tasks and “procrastinate” the tasks that don’t support your bottom line.

9. Create time-saving systems to make executing routine tasks a breeze. It can be very helpful to streamline your administrative tasks so that they are not interfering with the “big money” work of finding new clients and delivering your $100-or-more-per-hour work.

Author's Bio: 

Misty Williams is the founder of Strategic Marketing Solutions, a marketing strategist and author of How Should I Market Myself? She works with speakers, coaches and consultants to develop a marketing gameplan to grow their businesses.

Misty is an expert in marketing strategy and the development and execution of solid marketing campaigns. Her career began in artist management and marketing before she founded Strategic Marketing Solutions in 2004. Her clients include bestselling authors, nationally-known speakers and a plethora of experts who package their expertise as speeches, books, training and coaching programs, tv/radio guests, and more.

Misty is a member of the American Marketing Association and was a featured presenter for the National Speakers Association’s 2008 Conference in New York City. She has spoken for local and national associations across the country in both the speaking and coaching world, she’s been a featured lecturer for Vanderbilt University and she is highlighted in Who’s Who Among International Business Women.