Hands up if you’ve got time, glorious time, and plenty of it? Keep your hand up if you love marketing and spending heaps of time doing it?

Anybody? Anybody?

Most of my clients don’t have a lot of time for marketing, or anything else. Most of my clients have children, elderly parents, sometimes a renovation or part-time job to manage too. I do my utmost to keep working hours to school hours. I don’t want to work more than five or six hours a day. We all hit a wall in our productivity and fill our time with busywork: admin and other low-value activities, when we could be kicking back with a book, hobby, hanging out with friends and family and generally having fun.

If you’re frequently overwhelmed, bamboozled, or even jaded by the volume, technology or complexity of digital marketing, then take heart. If you don’t have a lot of time or don’t want to spend much time, then what’s the minimum amount of marketing you can do to be effective?

Here’s your bare minimum marketing plan, including the minimum tech skills required to market your business effectively.

First up: gather your stories

At its heart, marketing is simply clear, compelling communication. Marketing is not relentless self-promotion. What I teach – and what I do – is content marketing. Content marketing is modern-day marketing: the practice of consistently telling stories and sharing content (that you create and that you curate) that is useful, valuable and relevant to your ideal clients.

Your ideal clients consume your content, ideally subscribe to your email list, and become your advocates, fans, clients and customers.

It’s impossible to attract new people through the internet or to keep them personally interested and invested in your business if you only share your list of services, your timetable, or your upcoming events. There has to be something more to it.

Your business needs to stand for something. And not just jumping on the bandwagon of whatever conversation is trending – you don’t attract attention or earn respect for being a “me too” business, but by contributing something original to existing conversations that move the needle forward on a debate.

Your business blog is the vehicle to share your business’s stories – from cornerstone content, answering FAQs, to unraveling the complexities of what you do, why you do it and how you differ from the competition. Your blog allows you to share your professional opinion and build your reputation around this. Publishing one original blog per fortnight is a good routine to stick to.

Useful, relevant, valuable stories and information

Any participant at my courses has heard me repeat “useful, relevant, valuable” as the content marketing mantra. The content your business puts out into the internet must be useful to your audience; it needs to be relevant to their particular worldviews; it should be valuable to their lives.

People will stick around for as long as your marketing satisfies these three things.

The only two tech skills you need

The only two technical skills a business owner needs is the ability to quickly and easily update their website without engaging a website designer, and the ability to put together and disseminate mass emails. That’s it.

That fancy lead page software? The automated, evergreen webinars? The Facebook ads campaign? None of these are relevant if you’re unable to do these two things.

Updating your website quickly and easily enables you to publish blogs regularly and putting together an email newsletter ensures you can share these stories with your community and keep in touch and top-of-mind. Don’t tell me that you’ve got someone to do it – these two tasks are essential skills for business owners to ensure that your business can respond quickly if your web designer has gone AWOL.

Committing to your relationships

For all the new-fandangled software and platforms and analytics emerging seemingly every day, so few businesses do these two simple things: tell consistently awesome stories through blogging and disseminate these through email.

If you’re holding back emailing your list regularly, ask yourself why? Is it because you don’t want to annoy people and cause them to unsubscribe? Or because you don’t have anything to sell or promote right now?

This is missing the point of email marketing: the only way you’re able to develop a rapport with your email subscribers is by keeping in regular contact. And, much like the friend who only calls you when they want something, if you’re only emailing people when you want something from them, what’s in it for them? Unless you’re a discount website running constant promotions, you need to take this commitment seriously. You can’t expect loyalty and respect from your prospects if you don’t give loyalty and respect.

Committing to sending regular mass emails is committing to relationships – I cannot overstate this. A business with consistent cash flow and a grow trajectory is a business committed to regular marketing.

Building rapport is next-to-impossible when your contact is sporadic and self-interested. Sending your email newsletters at least once a month, every month, is a good routine to develop and maintain hundreds and thousands of relationship with one click of the ‘send’ button.

You must reach out if you want to grow

So, we have:

  • Storytelling
  • The ability to update your website and publish blogs
  • Regular blogging (this could be video blogging)
  • Regular email marketing.

What next?

My final bare minimum marketing habit is to regularly reach out – pick up the phone, introduce yourself to strangers, attending the occasional event or course and otherwise widening your circle of friends, colleagues, clients and influencers.

A major misconception amongst newly self-employed is that Instagram and Facebook will bring them business.

This makes no sense. It is much faster, easier, and more profitable to focus on building your network and strengthening your relationships: using other people’s audiences to grow, not one-by-one, but by many more people at a time.

Those internet-famous people you admire didn’t get to where they are by posting pretty pictures to Instagram daily but by reaching out, introducing themselves to others, meeting up face-to-face, and planning collaborations and joint ventures. They didn’t hide behind their computer talking to the same 67 people on Facebook and Instagram and waiting to be chosen.

When you make the act of reaching out to strangers routine, rather than something to be over-planned, over-thought and overwrought, your business will accelerate.

Your business will grow not only through reaching other people’s audiences but because having the audacity to regularly initiate contact with strangers challenges you to keep an open mind and an open heart. It challenges you to better understand people so that you are relevant to them. It widens your circle and shortcuts your growth. And it keeps your perspective and attitude fresh by looking at the world through the lens of other people’s eyes.

Ready to upskill, keep your digital marketing skills relevant and learn the art and craft of telling stories? Then check out my Hustle & Heart program.