For the general small business is inbound marketing a waste of time? No definitely not, but I understand why the typical small business owner looks at inbound marketing as a waste of time. There are a gazillion marketing agencies spouting off about how important inbound marketing is. I'm not one of them. I'm a small business owner. 5 years in business. 4 employees and for the past three years, I've been an inbound marketer. If you are a small business owner or a solopreneur, I wrote this article for you. You need to start inbound marketing today and you need to do it right.
So how does a small business succeed with inbound marketing?
List Of Small Business Inbound Marketing Tasks
- Write several good blog posts per week
- Promote blog posts on all of your social media accounts
- Read and comment on other peoples blogs
- Work on website SEO (do you even know how to do that?)
- Work on your Twitter account and interact regularly on it
- Work on your Facebook page and interact regularly on it
- Work on your LinkedIn profile and interact regularly on it
- Build your LinkedIn Company page
- Create a YouTube channel for your business and regularly post videos
- etc, etc, etc
My point is probably clear; there is a lot to do if you want to be successful with inbound marketing. You could literally spend 40+ hours a week working on the list above and maybe still not do a good job with inbound marketing. So how does a small business make the time for inbound marketing? By picking a strategy, making a plan and acting on it in a consistent manner. Unless you have a marketing department consisting of multiple employees you are probably taking on the marketing efforts all on your own, so pick your battles.
The 8 Hour Per Week Inbound Marketing Strategy
I personally like to try and commit about 10-20 hours per week to marketing, networking and other related growth oriented activities. If you can't commit the equivalent of one full work day to marketing your business then I'm not sure you are ready to grow your small business.
Here are my recommendations on committing roughly 8 hour per week to inbound marketing:
Publish 2 blogs approximately 2-4 hours per week
I consider blogging to be one or the more important tasks of inbound marketing. It gives you a chance to tell prospects about your products or services and allows you to target your customers. Having a successful blog that actually produces leads, sales meetings and hopefully customers takes A LONG TIME. Be realistic about your expectations and learn to blog effectively. Blogging is like training for a marathon; it is difficult and is a long-term commitment. However, the payoff can be huge. Pete Caputa the VP of sales and marketing at Hubspot passed along some great advice about blogging that I heard from a business associate. Pete said, "You should spend your time blogging in three equal parts; one third reading other blogs, one third commenting on other blogs and one third writing to your blog." Which leads me to my next point; reading other blogs, commenting on them and sharing them is very important.
Reading, commenting and sharing other blogs approximately 1.5 hours per week
There are several reasons why reading other blogs is important. First, you will learn a lot and there is a ton of good information out there. Second, if you leave good comments on other blogs you are showing other people that you are a thought leader. A good comment is not "hey great post." It should be thought provoking, adding value to the conversation and possibly even challenging of the article content. I don't mind at all when someone leaves a comment on our blog that challenges what I am saying, in fact I welcome it. Lastly, when you comment on a blog you are usually given a chance to link back to your website or blog. Again if you leave a good comment maybe someone will see that and think that they should check out your blog.
Twitter Interaction approximately 2.5 hours per week
I have found Twitter to be much more effective for business than I have Facebook but I encourage you to use both. You should use Twitter to promote your content as well as other people's content. Start valuable conversations. Twitter is all about starting a conversation. You should find content that you find useful and share it with your followers. Remember it's not all about you; it's about building relationships, having conversations and sharing valuable information. Approach Twitter with the same way you should approach networking; give selflessly with no expectations of anything in return and you will get what you want.
LinkedIn approximately 2 hours per week
LinkedIn might be the most under-utilized tool on the web by businesses. To be honest many people don't know how to use LinkedIn effectively for their business. I myself do not think I am the best LinkedIn user but I know people that have built their business around using LinkedIn as a main strategy to growing their business and attracting new prospects. One huge step would be to completely fill out your LinkedIn profile. So many LinkedIn users have incomplete profiles and I imagine it is because they don't understand the importance of having a profile that is 100% complete.
I would imagine that many serious inbound marketers will look at this above list and scoff at it saying that it is not nearly enough time. I would partially agree with that point of view. However, for the small business owner this may be all the time you are able or willing to give to inbound marketing. One other piece of advice is that I would perform the above activities a little bit at a time each day. Maybe spend 20 minutes reading and commenting on blogs, 20 minutes on Twitter and 20 minutes on LinkedIn every day. There are two major things I feel you need to be successful in inbound marketing: consistency and a long-term commitment.
If you are a small business owner and you are thinking about, struggling with or successfully doing inbound marketing, maybe we could do it together. Comment below and where it says Website (optional) put the url to your website, blog or LinkedIn profile. Then, I'll point people to you.