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Can you remember the last time you dedicated time to your marketing needs? Real, meaningful time – not ten stolen minutes after a team meeting or five minutes to generate a half-complete task list. If it’s been a while, you’re not alone. Putting your marketing needs last is a common – albeit costly – mistake. Busy seasons make it easy to give yourself permission to kick your marketing tasks down the road, but those seasons are precisely when you need to focus on your own marketing operations. You’re probably busy because you’re finishing up existing projects, and you need a busy pipeline to make sure you have business once you’re done.

So, how can you avoid putting yourself on the back-burner going forward? Simple: treat yourself like a client.

Budget Your Time and Money.

Stop trying to fit your marketing operations into the negative space between outside clients. It won’t work, and you’ll end up with missed deadlines and a never-ending task list. Your marketing operations is a project all by itself, and you must budget for it accordingly. Like you would for any other project, estimate how much time you and your team will need to dedicate to the project for it to be successful. Then factor that time, and the resulting cost, into your overall organizational capacity.

The fallout from failing to budget time for your own marketing can be a huge time-suck. Trust me. During one particularly busy period (fairly recently in fact), my team and I agreed to set aside marketing for our business for just a short time while we tackled a particularly time-consuming set of client-related tasks. The short time extended. Soon, we found that we had “kicked the can so far down the road that we couldn’t just restart. Instead, an embarrassingly long time later, we found ourselves putting a kickoff meeting on the calendar….for our organization’s marketing. At that meeting, we found ourselves staring at analytics that had dropped like a stone and a variety of campaigns that had dropped as if the people responsible had been caught up in a rapture. The amount of time we spent to get our own marketing operations back on track and was completely avoidable.

Stay on Topic and on Schedule.

Watch out for the good-idea fairy! She tends to show up during busy times to wave shiny objects in your face. She promises that this software or that app represent the solution to all your marketing woes. All you need to do is buy it, learn how to use it, and then rework your existing marketing plan to take advantage of your new tool.

Does that sound time-consuming and expensive? It can be. New tools can be awesome, but they can also be distractions that lead you off-topic and off-schedule. Embrace innovation, but do so thoughtfully. Will that shiny object really help your efforts or will it just be an excuse for falling behind in your timeline? Instead of dedicating valuable time to shopping for a new tool, focus your efforts on creating templates. A detailed content creation calendar, SEO checklist, and content value checklist – at the minimum – will streamline your whole content creation process, and give your team the structure they need to stay on track during the busiest seasons.

In addition to saving valuable time when it comes to creating content, these resources make it much easier to bring in temporary outside help when necessary. Instead of pausing your marketing operations when you know that you’ll need your team’s full focus on client projects, hire one (or more) freelancers to assist – without worrying about how you’ll get an outsider familiar with your voice, content structure, or processes. All the freelancer will need to do is stick to the template!

Hold Yourself Accountable.

This is arguably the most essential, and hardest, component of treating yourself like a client. Manage your deadlines as seriously as you manage your clients’ deadlines. Don’t miss them without consequences. This is why it’s so important to budget the time for your marketing operations up front – just like you do for any other client. If you already have the time set aside, then you remove any easy excuses to let your marketing slide.

Setting your own marketing operations aside while you focus on your clients is easy to do and even easier to justify to yourself. But, it’s always more costly and more difficult in the long run. Restarting marketing operations is always hard and time-consuming. You won’t have to restart if you didn’t stop in the first place – a natural outcome of treating yourself as well as you treat your clients.

Erika Dickstein
Erika Dickstein

Erika Dickstein loves to break technology down and make it accessible to small business owners. Before starting her company, Erika spent over a decade working for large corporations in marketing and online product management. She started Spring Insight to prove that small businesses could create the same kind of strategic web presence as bigger businesses on a reasonable budget.