Do you have a marketing plan? (Cunning or otherwise?) If not, in this season of resolutions, making one is a great way to start the year. Because otherwise you know what happens…

The phone rings. Your inbox is suddenly bursting with (mostly irrelevant) emails. Your mobile is constantly vibrating (even though you’ve turned off the sound). There’s a sudden flood of messages from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and all your other social media links. And, of course, you’ve got a business to run.

In other words, there’s always something else to do. (Though it may not, necessarily, be better.)

The problem is that you neglect marketing at your peril. Because however busy you may be right now, the hard truth is that your future business will suffer if you don’t keep promoting what you do. And make the time to do it properly.

You may be busy now, but future business will suffer if you don't make time to promote what you do Click To Tweet

So – how much time is that? Exactly?

Here’s the beautiful thing. It doesn’t have to be that much!

You don’t need to ‘do everything’

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is to try delivering 100% original content. Because that way madness lies…

Seriously, if you plan on writing a blog, an article, or an advice piece every day you’ll soon be doing nothing else. (Or paying a team like ours to do it for you). Much as we’d love to have your business, it’s simply not necessary. It’s not even a good idea. In fact a good rule of thumb is the 5:3:2 rule. That’s five items of ‘curated’ content – i.e. content you’ve found elsewhere which is relevant to your audience. Three items of original content. And two ‘fun’ items – something that shows your human side. And that’s not every day, by the way. You could spread that over a fortnight, or a month.

But one rule for all your content. It must be relevant, appropriate, and interesting to your intended audience. (And if you’re not sure who that audience is, now’s the time to think about it!)

And – above all – it’s not all about promoting yourself. It’s much more about helping that target audience to know you, like you, and trust you. Which mostly means sharing your knowledge and expertise. And showing that you (and your team, if you have one) are human beings.

Content marketing isn't so much about promoting yourself - more about helping your audience to know, like and trust you. Click To Tweet

The 20-minute marketing plan

Written that content (or got someone else to do it for you)? Great. Now you should be able to sort out your content marketing with nothing much more than a 20-30 minute session each day. (About the time you’d spend making and enjoying that first cup of the day). It needn’t take hours, and it needn’t cost a fortune. Even less if you already have a ‘back catalogue’ of blog posts to call on. (And that’s something you can build up over time, in any case!)

As part of that session, of course, you need to check out what your followers are saying – and respond where that’s appropriate. But don’t try to scan the whole social media spectrum. Think about key partners (the people who already share your posts) and target customers (the people you really want to reach). What are they saying? How can you respond? How can you open a dialogue with them?

Stuck? Then think about what you’d do if you met them at a networking meeting. And do the same thing on social media…

Need a little help?

You probably do. (Most of us do!) In which case let me recommend a very useful tool co-written by Kim Morrison, one of our team here at Mill House Media. It’s a monthly social media planner featuring more than 200 ideas each month. Which should certainly be enough to get those little grey cells ticking over. Why not give it a go?

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