When you look at your marketing to-do list, do many of the items on it look all too familiar? Have entries like “call Dolores Sanchez” and “follow up with Wallingford Corp.” been copied from a previous week? Putting off unappealing tasks may be human nature, but for a self-employed professional, procrastination can be deadly.
Delays in contacting a prospective client can lose the business to the competition. Failing to get the word out about an upcoming event may forfeit dozens of opportunities. When your contacts don’t hear from you for a while, they forget you exist. Wasted marketing time can never be recovered. By the time you realize you might not make your sales goals for the month, quarter, or year, it may already be too late.
Finding tasks on your to-do list week after week is a clear sign you are procrastinating, but it’s not always this obvious. Can you identify with any of these situations?
1. Feelings of overwhelm.
You have a backlog of work that seems insurmountable. You wake up in the morning already thinking about everything you must accomplish that day. It seems impossible to get it all done. If you are routinely unable to complete what’s on your list in the time available, you may be worsening the problem by putting tasks off week after week.
2. Making excuses.
You find yourself constantly having to make excuses to your referral sources, networking buddies, and even potential clients about why you never followed up on that great referral, that important call wasn’t made, the marketing package wasn’t sent, or the proposal wasn’t written. After a while, the excuses begin to sound flimsy, even to you.
3. Trivial pursuits.
You notice that you are doing unimportant tasks — rearranging your desk drawers, scrolling through social media, or shopping for your next electronic gadget — while neglecting crucial marketing activities.
4. Overflowing pipeline.
A form of procrastination unique to entrepreneurs and salespeople is continuing to develop new leads instead of contacting the prospects you already have. If you are spending more time searching out new prospects or attending networking events than you on are picking up the phone, emailing warm contacts, or driving to appointments, this problem may be yours.
If find that you are procrastinating about marketing, what then? Here are some suggestions for beginning to change how you market.
Get in touch with your motivation to have a thriving business.
What rewards, tangible and intangible, do you get from your work? Remind yourself of that payoff on a daily basis. Post a picture or note that represents those rewards to you on your phone, mirror, computer, or dashboard.
Break down activities you are having trouble with into smaller steps.
Pick what seems like the easiest place to begin, and block out time on your calendar to make a start. If you’re feeling resistant or fearful, commit to spending just five minutes. You may find that once you are taking action, the rest seems much less difficult than you had feared.
If you really do have too much on your plate
to have enough time for marketing, it’s essential that you cut back on some of your other activities immediately. Ask family members to take on more chores, reduce or delegate your volunteer responsibilities, or hire a helper to perform business tasks that don’t need your level of expertise. A business without consistent marketing isn’t a business; it’s a hobby.
Create more accountability for yourself by telling a buddy, support group, or coach
exactly what you plan to get done each week. Ask them not to accept any excuses from you, and to remind you why you said you were doing all this in the first place. You can partner in this way with a colleague by setting up a weekly check-in where each of you reports to the other.
It may take time to break a procrastination habit around marketing, so give yourself permission to fail a few times. Keep remembering that even a small amount of progress will allow you to achieve more than you ever have before.