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School of Hard Knocks: What 18 Hours of Painful Labor Taught this Mama About Marketing Focus

timeSometimes it’s simply impossible to get everything done, especially when you are one of the growing hordes of Mums and Dads juggling business-building and kids.

It’s not that your marketing efforts have completely flopped, it’s just that it never seems to be enough to get you the results you are after.

There’s always more that needs doing and there’s never enough time.

Before you know it, the day is over and you have to pick up the kids from daycare or school. You haven’t even begun that blog post you were supposed to write today and yet again, you’ve put off time on social media because something urgent came up with a client.

If you could just get 5 hours more a week to focus solely on marketing, you just know that your traffic, subscribers and income would skyrocket.

But where to find the time?

Let’s face it – you’re new to this marketing gig and you might have bitten off more than you can chew.

Marketing can feel like a long, painful labor at times… you keep pushing, pushing and pushing, yet your progress seems so darn slow!

Like me, you probably had no clue what you were getting yourself into when you started out as a parent and it’s likely that the same holds true for marketing your business. After all – marketing is what you do to get your business (your baby!) out into the world.

All of a sudden, ‘sales and marketing’ has transformed from something you don’t like very much that is done by other people, to a crucial part of your daily life that you have to become an expert in if you want to succeed.

So you invest time and money on learning everything you can about it. You spend hours going to ‘expert’ webinars, download umpteen ebooks, read blog posts from the masters and try to duplicate everything you see everyone else doing online so successfully (apparently).

And it’s completely overwhelming.

Worse still, it’s taking up a lot of time but failing to get the results you need. Your tribe is growing, but way too slowly. Your engagement is only ‘ok’. And your conversion rate is good, but you simply can’t get enough traffic to your sales pages to make the numbers add up.

It becomes impossible to know where to you are going wrong, and where you should focus your efforts to turn it around. Social media? Writing blog posts? Webinars? Big and bold product launches? Article writing? All or none of the above?

Instead of focussing in and getting stuff done, you feel confused and tend to procrastinate your marketing. You get spread too thin and rather than doing a few things really well, you end up doing lots of things badly.

Any of this sound familiar?

Online Marketing – A Blessing Or a Curse?

The way I see it, the advent of online marketing is both a blessing and a curse for new marketers.

It means we have this amazing opportunity to tap into a global market and enjoy the flexibility of working from home, but it can also be incredibly overwhelming when you are s already pushed for time to run your new business.

Plus, there are important parts of online marketing that you dislike or lack confidence in. It feels like a drag and this affects your productivity. So you put off the bits you are struggling with and let other tasks get in the way, then tell yourself it was ‘lack of time’ that stopped you from getting your marketing done.

The fact is if you are not crystal clear in your strategy, online marketing can be a huge time waster and can have very little impact (despite what all the experts say!)

The solution to this is the same as the one that got me through labour – and the first chaotic weeks of my baby’s life – when everything was new, I was exchausted and there was just too much to learn.

The solution is this: take 90 minutes to step outside of your business and ‘breathe, baby. Breathe!’

It’s time to stop pushing all the time without effect.

Instead, step outside your business for a moment to look at the big picture of your marketing efforts and hone in on the ONE marketing strategy that will get you the most bang for your buck over the next six months.

The point of this exercise is to take everything you’ve learnt so far about marketing, all the systems and work you have already put in place, assess it and come up with a kick ass strategy for improving it over the next 6 months.

If you like the sound of strategising like this but you’re not sure how to action it, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Lots of the Mum’s we work with have this same problem – they want to strategize more in their business, but they’re not quite sure how to go about it so it just doesn’t happen. I’d like to recommend you try this 5 step-process.

5-steps To a Marketing Strategy That is More Focused and Less Overwhelming

1. Commit to 90 minutes of ‘time-out’

Fortunately for you, you have a lot more control over the pain and suffering induced by your marketing efforts than I do over my upcoming labor with baby no. 2. 😉

You can change your mindset around marketing and start being more productive. All you have to do is choose to do so.

This first step is to take time out to look at the big-picture of your marketing. This can be harder than sounds – you may try to put it off – so put some effort in and make it something that you are looking forward to rather than dreading.

For example, pay attention to your environment. Find a great place to do the work… inject coffee, colorful pens and paper, a connection with nature… whatever you need to do to get the creative juices flowing.

And enlist support if you need to. If you are sick of working alone, invite another business owner from your networks along and go through this 5-step process together. This is great for accountability and for getting feedback on your ideas.

And treat your 90 minutes like gold – no interruptions please. Do what you need to do to make this time happen and stick to it.

2. Complete your Marketing ‘State of the Nation’

Grab your pens and paper and write this heading at the top of a blank piece of paper.

‘Everything I currently do when it comes to marketing my business’

Now without thinking too hard about it, let your answers to this question roll out onto the page.

The big things, the little things, the things you mean to do but haven’t got around to yet, the things you love, the things you outsource….absolutely everything you are doing in your business right now when it comes to marketing.

Once you have vented everything onto the page, take another look over it and ask yourself:

Are there any other core marketing concepts that I’d like to introduce but haven’t got around to yet.

Brainstorm these and add them to the page in front of you.

3. Simplify Things

Now take a moment to reflect on what you see on the page in front of you. It’s highly likely that your page is looking rather overwhelming right now, so it’s time to simplify things a little!

Choose a colour and circle the 2 or 3 marketing efforts or ideas that excite you the most when you look over the page in front of you.

In a different colour, circle the 2 or 3 marketing efforts that excite you the least.

Choose another colour and circle the 2 or 3 marketing efforts that have got you the best results in your business so far.

Finally, choose another colour and the circle 1 or 2 marketing efforts that will get you the best results based on the time investment involved (eg. the biggest bang for your buck).

4. What is This Exercise Telling You?

Based on everything you have done so far, ask yourself the following question:

If there was only ONE marketing strategy I could employ in the next 6 months, which one would it be?

(Try not to think too hard, just let it flow…. we’re drawing on your right-brain intuition here folks!

When you’re ready, capture your thoughts on paper.

5. The Hard Bit – Letting Go!

This exercise is designed to give you clarity about what is most important to focus on when it comes to your marketing over the next 6 months.

It’s also here to help you decide what you need to let go of.

I’m certainly not suggesting that you drop all but one of your marketing efforts completely (although it is an option), but I am suggesting that letting go of some stuff is going to help you get better results.

This sounds simple, but it can take guts if you really want it to have an impact.

At the very least, you should let go of the stuff you circled that you don’t enjoy and that isn’t getting you much in the way of results.

If you really want to challenge yourself, you could pick that ONE thing that is going to get you the most mileage and put your other pet projects aside for now (scary huh?).

Do you have the courage to let go and focus on ONE key marketing strategy for the next 6 months, or do you think this is an absolutely crazy idea? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this exercise. And if you’ve got your own tips or process for deciding which marketing efforts to focus on, we’d love to hear them!

About Janine Ogg

Janine Ogg specialises in cutting through the cr*p and keeping life deliciously simple for busy Mum's in business. With her partner-in-crime Jo Foster, she co-founded Get it Done Mum, an affordable online coaching club that helps Mum's hit their business targets faster AND free up more time and energy for life.

34 comments

  1. Jamie Hudson says:

    Great informational post ! Loved your tips and I am definitely going to implement these in my future 🙂

    Thanks! Keep up the good work!

  2. Reinaldo P. Klein says:

    Quickly filter any list to show similar items – people who work in a certain industry, prospects you haven’t spoken to in 30 days, or all the marketing managers you know.

  3. Sarah Arrow ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    A great read Janine, I like the concept of writing down *exactly* where you are with your marketing. I’d write more but I have to collect the girls 😉 xx

    1. Janine Ogg says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for taking the time to pop by. If you get around to the exercise, I’d love to hear how it went.

      Warm wishes,
      Janine

  4. Hi Janine,

    Thanks for this post, really good advice. I am in growth mode with one of my current businesses (I have a brick and mortar music teaching studio as well as a blog I’m launching). I’m trying several local marketing techniques I haven’t used in a while. It can be really overwhelming.

    I keep reminding myself to go back to what has worked in the past. You can’t argue with success. And the stuff I don’t particularly enjoy? Either stop it, yes, or delegate! 😉

    1. Janine Ogg says:

      Hi Leanne,

      Good luck with the new marketing projects (and with delegating or letting go of the stuff you don’t enjoy!). Have you decided to focus on one or two and let the others go, or are you sticking with what you are doing for now? Love an update on how it goes!

      Warm wishes,
      Janine

  5. Julie says:

    Great post Janine! And congratulations on Molly.

    You post reminded me of how easy it can be to focus on one marketing strategy too much and the importance of taking the time and really assessing what it is doing for your business, and then making changes or even ditching the strategy if it is not producing. Thanks for putting together this little exercise.

    1. Janine Ogg says:

      Hi Julie,

      You are welcome. As Natalie says above, it’s so important to measure the impact of all that hard work we are doing isn’t it? If we don’t, we risk wasting our precious time and life energy on ‘work’ that isn’t getting us the results we are after.

      Having said that, you don’t always get it right first time around so it’s also important to stop, assess and learn from our mistakes as we go along with out beating ourselves up too much (I know we’ve had plenty of ‘bumps’ along the way with our marketing!).

      Best of luck with it,
      Janine

  6. Claire Kerslake says:

    Love the idea of taking some time out to really look at things. It’s something that we ‘forget’ to do or we tell ourselves that we’ll do it one day ‘soon’!

    Awesome advice Janine as always!

    Claire

  7. Janine you’ve made several great points here least of which is taking a step back to focus in on exactly what your current marketing efforts are getting you – and where they’re getting you in fact. So few people take the time to do this and wonder why they’re still not getting results.

    Digging down into some of those metrics on Google Analytics and beyond is the best way to get real about what’s working, and then change up your strategy to make the most of your time and efforts.

    1. Janine Ogg says:

      Hi Nat,

      Thanks for the comment. I love the way you have focussed in on something really concrete – the importance of measuring results, that is! In the past we have done exercises like this without the hard numbers and we have recently become determined to measure more effectively so we have a better understanding of exactly what results it’s getting us.

      A great example is tracking the results of this guest post for our business – we are doing using a ‘guest post maximiser’ excel spreadsheet kindly shared by one of the other students on Danny’s Write Like Freddy blogging course (which rocks, by the way, thanks for the heads up on that one!)

      Now we just have to apply the same methods to our other marketing strategies more effectively using tools like google analytics!

  8. Roberta Budvietas says:

    Great article.
    Hope the labor for baby 2 is short and sweet. My niece is waiting for her number 2 right now and the baby is late.
    As for your article, just looking for graphic artists on odesk and one thing I have to say is, if you lack expertise, get help. Doing it all yourself can be disastrous but you need to be clear about what you are trying to accomplish

    1. Janine Ogg says:

      Absolutely. DIY everything can turn out to be a nightmare but so many of us small business owners try to do it. Outsourcing can also be hard at first (it took us a while to get into the flow of it) but once you do it, it is incredibly liberating.

      Perhaps letting go is like getting fit, the more you practice the better you get, the easier it is, and the more wonderful you feel!

      Have a great day Roberta,
      Janine

      P.s birth was amazing thanks, see my reply above!

  9. Suzanne Fox says:

    Janine, as other folks have commented, what a great analogy.

    To use another, similarly “mum-ish” one, for many of us, the thought of letting go of marketing and business strategies in which we’ve invested creativity and resources is like thinking of sending away a child….it’s surprisingly easy to get rather personally attached! As you say, letting go takes courage, yet it’s necessary both for marketing success and, also, the best creative work. Great post–thanks!

    1. Janine Ogg says:

      Thanks Suzanne, I agree!

      It’s so hard to let go of stuff that we have invested a lot of time and energy into, especially when that is time and energy that we then aren’t able to expend on our loved ones. The opportunity cost of all that hard work is time we can’t spend with our families, so we are seriously invested in getting results and when we don’t, it’s a real kick in the guts.

      Good luck choosing which strategies to follow-through on and which ones to let go of and kia kaha (NZ Maori for ‘be strong, or be courageous!)

      Janine

    1. Janine Ogg says:

      Great Sandra! Thanks for popping by. I’d love to hear how the exercise goes for you…do come back and let us know if you end up giving it a go (unless blog post commenting gets unceremoniously dumped from your to-do list as a result of the exercise of course!).

      Best,
      Janine

  10. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hi Janine!

    Good advice. Simplifying is something I struggle with, but also something I in particular should master. But haven’t just yet 🙂

    The discipline lies in ‘temporarily postponing’ (not scrapping) the other 40 things I’m excited about at the moment to focus on the few strategies I have the time to get the most mileage out of right now. At least that’s the trick I’m trying to play on my own mind!

    Useful advice and well done!

    1. Janine Ogg says:

      Hi Gary,

      Thanks for the positive feedback, this is my first guest post so it’s great to see my thoughts are resonating with some of Firepole’s readers.

      I too have thousands of ideas (I’m a big picture, creative, right brainer) but luckily for me, I have a talented left-brainer for a business partner and she helps me prioritise and stay on track! If you’re working on your own its harder, so it helps to have tools you can use to reign in the ideas….like the ‘parking lot’ tool I mention above in my reply to Pat which is great for temporarily postponing ideas without that fear of losing them forever! Plus the good ideas still look good when you go back and look again, and the not-so-good ones (that felt ‘brilliant’ at the time) are happily culled.

      Best of luck simplifying things, let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

      Best,
      Janine

  11. Jenny says:

    Janine, such a creative analogy. Makes it so relatable, we can’t always be pushing, most of the time its about letting it happen and just like in labor, the efforts we put toward our business will be just as rewarding in the end.

    1. Janine Ogg says:

      So true Jenny and my recent birth experience has only reinforced this further (see my reply to Jon above!)

      Thanks for your comment,
      Janine

  12. This is very good advice.

    I think the hardest part is not trying to figure things out. It’s the letting go- especially when the fruits of those six months of labor won’t be apparent till the end. In order to run a business successfully, you have to look at the long-term, and that can be a challenge if you need a certain level of performance from your business in the short-term.

    1. Janine Ogg says:

      Thanks for the comment Adam.

      I agree that that balance between the day-to-day performance of your business and planning for it’s longer-term success can be hard. We’ve had to let go of a couple of money making projects recently because we realised we needed to focus on other tasks that are going to have a bigger impact on our success longer term, and it hurts!

      Luckily for my business partner and I, we are building our business part-time and don’t have the pressure of having to provide a full-time income for our families at this stage (like lots of other Mum’s working from home out there I guess). This gives us some flexibility which others may struggle to find.

      As you say though, that letting go has got to be done so I wonder if the real issue is getting creative about how we can make it happen, despite the obstacles. Ideas from experts like Danny Inny is definitely a good way forward!

      Good luck.
      Janine

  13. Jennifer Rodriguez says:

    This post was just what the doctor ordered! It gave me confidence to believe in myself that I can get it done:)

    1. Janine Ogg says:

      Way to go Jennifer! I love the fact that you used the specific words ‘get it done’…that just happens to be the name we of the programme we have recently launched for the mums in our community, called Get it Done Mum!

      Check out our overwhelm exercise (see the link in the bio below) for a great tool you can use whenever those ‘am I ever going to be able to get everything done?’ thoughts start to creep in again.

      Best,
      Janine

  14. Jon Haver says:

    Congrats on baby number 2!

    The cost of not having focus isnt just the time/money you spent going in 100 different directions its also the cost of your best brain power thinking about 100 different things. When I have allowed myself to singularly focus on a problem/project I have been able to see results way beyond the sum of a whole bunch of disjointed efforts.

    I cant relate to the 18hr of labour but after watching my wife go through it a couple months ago – mad respect to you!

    1. Janine Ogg says:

      Thanks Jon,

      Little Molly is now 4 weeks old and is a complete joy….definitely worth the effort! Interestingly, I tried a birthing technique call hypno-birthing this time around. It’s all about changing your mindset about the ‘pain’ and ‘hard work’ of birthing and using relaxation techniques for a pain free birth. I’m happy to say that it worked! I had an [almost] pain free birth at home in the birthing pool using the relaxation techniques I learnt…. I even ‘caught’ our little daughter in my own arms as she was born. An incredible experience.

      My learning? Birthing doesn’t have to be the painful, traumatic experience we are socialised to believe it is and marketing doesn’t have to be either – it’s all in the way we choose to view it. I used to hate the idea of being a marketer, now I am embracing it as a great tool for experiencing the freedom and liberation of a successful business!

      Enjoy these special months with your newborn Jon.

      Warm wishes,
      Janine

  15. Pat Katepoo says:

    Not a crazy idea at all. There’s a lot to be said about identifying and narrowing the FOCUS of marketing activities. For me, it *does* take courage to let go of what I *think* is important or *might* be important. You’ve confirmed a notion I’ve been having to narrow and focus my efforts. Thanks.

    1. Janine Ogg says:

      You’re welcome Pat, pleased to be of service! Will you use this exercise to help you narrow down your efforts and focus, or do you have other ideas for how you might do this? If so, feel free to share them here so others can benefit!

      Warm wishes,
      Janine

      1. Pat Katepoo says:

        From a recent assessment, one activity had already risen to the top, but I was reluctant to let go of the others. Your post confirmed that it’s a tactic worth trying.

        1. Janine Ogg says:

          Hi Pat,

          Great action taking, congrats. And thanks for letting us know how you are getting on.

          I hear you on the reluctance to let go of some of the other stuff. Are they tasks that you enjoy doing or dread? Can you outsource?

          Another great tool we use to help let go of tasks or ideas that are overcrowding our head space is the notion of a ‘parking lot’…a visual poster you put up somewhere and use to capture the ideas you don’t have time for yet. It takes away that worry about forgetting great ideas!

          I check-in with my parking lot every now and then and interestingly, some of the ideas still stand out as great, but others don’t make as much sense any more and are easy to give the chop!

          Good luck with it.
          Janine

  16. Rachel Lewis says:

    Great post Janine! You are right- there is SO much information out there I like lots of others have experienced years of marketing confusion and overwhelm.

    Love your tips and will be taking my 90 mins today!

    1. Janine Ogg says:

      Thanks for the feedback Rachel,

      I’d love to hear more about how you find the exercise – be sure to come back and let us know about any ‘aha’s’ or ‘oh no’s’ that come up as a result of taking your 90 mins (and congratulations on your action taking, I’m impressed!)

      Warm wishes,
      Janine

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