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Everyone likes the idea of a calm and orderly start to the new year – easing into it with strategic plan and a structured approach to your marketing activities. But in the IT world, especially if you’re in charge of a growing business, chances are that ‘busy-ness’ is the name of the game. Sound familiar?

  • Is your day characterised by back-to-back online meetings, with a 10 minute loo break (if you’re lucky?)
  • Are you carrying out multiple, simultaneous chats with different people? There's always potential for awkward interactions if you don’t pay close attention to who you’re messaging!
  • Does your inbox overflow with information from people who are ‘keeping you in the loop’ that you never get a chance to read?

Managing a tech business is a huge challenge at the best of times. You wear many hats – of which marketing is only one. You start out with the best of intentions, but if a customer calls, or a problem blows up, priorities can shift in a heartbeat.

If you are serious about growing your business, there are sensible steps you can take as a small business to achieve a more structured approach to marketing for the new year, and to integrate it into your day-to-day activity.

How to take a structured approach...

1. Engage your team of experts

Get the team together to ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals. Identify the skills and resources you have in house. Getting the team on board is essential – especially those that are customer facing, solving the problems and pains that your customers experience, every day.

2. Review (or write) your content strategy

If you have a written content strategy, this is a great time to review it and make sure it’s still on message. If (shock horror!) you haven't, this is an excellent opportunity to write down what you want to say, who you want to say it to, and how you’re going to do it. There’s more detail about how to do that in our ebook, but suffice to say it’s all about solving problems for your target audiences, not just talking about your solution and how great it is.

3. Audit what you have and look for the gaps

Auditing your current marketing assets and programmes may well turn up some forgotten gems. But other content (sales proposals and consultant presentations) may also provide some great insights about the challenges faced by your personas and how to address these. Identify where you have content gaps and prioritise how you are going to address these.

4. Make sure your website is up to scratch

Does your website reflect your messaging and address the issues your target personas face? If not, it’s a good opportunity to get it sorted – but it will also need regular review. In addition, setting up landing pages to capture and convert interested leads is essential. Look at your marketing stack and consider implementing a lead capture tool if you don’t already have one in place. Hubspot is a great platform for business that want to automate the lead process and keep everything in one place.

5. Carve out regular time to create your content

It takes discipline to carve out time for marketing on a regular basis, but if you want to build your brand and presence and become known for your expertise – not just as a product shifter – it needs to be done. There are various content types and different ones appeal to different audience types. If blogging is what you are going to focus on, do it regularly. Take inspiration from the problems your team are solving on a weekly basis and write about what’s happening. If needs be, step away from your regular office and find a place and a time to allow you to focus.

6. Review and refine

What’s working and what’s not? Again, make time to evaluate regularly, but make it easy on yourself or assign someone in the business to do it. It’s important to measure and track your results, such as views, likes, shares and opens, but don’t become obsessive. If you’re using different platforms for blogging, emails, and social media it can be a little time consuming, but do-able once you have things set up. A platform like Hubspot can bring all these aspects together in one place and makes the measurement a lot easier.

Finding a time to commit to marketing on a regular basis is a big challenge and requires dedication. If you’re happy ticking along the same ad-hoc way, that’s cool. But if you are looking to increase inbound traffic, generate leads and grow your business in 2017, then it could be time for a new, more structured approach.