The other day I received a phone call from a potential client who started off the conversation almost sheepishly confessing to me that he has been "a lazy marketer." He explained that most of his business came from referrals, and he had not paid much attention to keeping his marketing collateral up to date, building a sales funnel, or positioning his brand in the bigger business world. 

"Do you have clients?" I asked.

"I am always busy," he replied. 

"OK, so what's the problem?" I asked. 

The problem, as he explained it, was that he felt like he was tempting fate by continuing to rely on passive referrals as the way to build his business. I agreed.  

I often run across entrepreneurs and small business owners who are guilty of this type of lazy marketing including: 

  • Relying almost solely on passive referrals for business 
  • Failing to keep websites and other collateral up to date 
  • Half-hearted engagement in social media to build an industry or thought leadership presence
  • Inconsistent and slow follow-up on potential clients who contact the company 

These and other seemingly innocuous actions have the potential to stall a brand and keep it from growing. I've seen many a company remain on simmer for years; that is, until the market changes significantly or a slew of new competitors enters the field. Then these companies find themselves scrambling to make up for lost time and playing catch-up. The problem is that at this point, as the old saying goes, they are often a day late and a dollar short. 

So how can you transform your lazy marketing? True confessions. At heart I'm a lazy marketer myself, so I feel your pain. I've learned to break this pattern, with the following 2 consistent habits. 

1. Automate your social media and sync it to an editorial calendar. 

Let's face it: Who has the time to sit there every day and tweet, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.? I certainly don't, and neither do most of my clients. The key is to create a year-long editorial calendar that takes into account the topics your business would naturally cover as well as the time of year, holidays, events and other relevant items. Knowing the general categories you want to post about saves you the stress of figuring this out on the spot. For example: 

  • October is Health Literacy Month, so if your business or product is in any way health related, this would be a great time for a blog, tweet or other social media post. 
  • November hosts Thanksgiving, the perfect time to do a social media post about gratitude, family relationships, food and a whole other host of related items. 
  • December is the end of the year, a great opportunity to talk about completing this year and preparing for the next. 

Once you have your social media editorial calendar set up, you can pre-write a series of posts and then use a system like Social Oomph to load them up for automatic posting on a predetermined schedule. By doing this you'll have your foundational social media set up and ready to go without having to think about it.  

2. Do a yearly marketing strategy planning process.  

I have a friend who says, "You can do anything you want, you just can't do everything you want." By doing a yearly marketing strategy planning process, you can determine the 2 to 4 most important brand building activities you want to take on.  The process I use for myself and my clients includes the following: 

S.W.O.T. analysis. What are the current stengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats my business is going to face in the coming year?

  • Competitive analysis. Who are the competitors (or type of competitors) I am likely to encounter this year? 
  • Macro market analysis. What are the big changes in the market that I can expect this year? 
  • Micro market analysis. What are the the small changes in the market I can expect this year? 
  • Core strategic objectives. What are my core strategic goals for my business this year? 
  • Key tactical implementation. What are the key tactics I want to use to achieve my strategic goals this year? 

I find that by doing just a small amount of this pre-planning, thinking through these issues, and coming up with answers, I am significantly more likely to move beyond lazy marketing to active branding (and so are my clients).

In other words, just a little bit of work up front at the beginning of the year gives me a bit of room to at least slightly indulge my inner slacker for the rest.