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One of the questions that I’m asked most frequently is, How can I balance the time I spend delivering training with time spent marketing my training business?

It’s a common worry. Many small businesses across every sector find that, because they get caught up with the day-to-day demands of providing their services and they don’t have a dedicated marketing department, marketing gets pushed to one side, an afterthought that’s tackled inconsistently and infrequently at best.

This can have dire consequences. Marketing is the main way that you will feed your sales pipeline but what you do today can take between three to six months to pay off. For this reason, it’s important to build time into every week for marketing. This will ensure that, once the training projects you’re delivering at the moment come to an end, you’ll have new work booked in.

If you only spend time on marketing your business when sales are tailing off, you’ll find yourself in the fast queue to the feast and famine rollercoaster.

Make marketing a priority

But how much time should you spend on marketing vs. delivering training?

One school of thought follows the 60/30/10 idea that you should spend:

  • 60% of your time on marketing and sales
  • 30% on delivering your services, i.e. training
  • 10% on administration and management

This sounds like a surprisingly small amount of time to be in the training room but it might be a good rule of thumb to start with, given that 28% of small businesses say that they spend 20 hours a week on marketing.

In my experience though, there’s no magic formula for how much time you should devote to marketing your business each week. It will depend on what are the most effective marketing activities for your audience and how long they take.

All I know is that marketing does need to be a priority.

I recommend allocating time in your diary to marketing, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day or a couple of hours one afternoon a week. Treat this time like you would any other appointment in your diary, as a commitment that can’t be pushed aside.

Ten minutes a day may not sound like a lot of time but, as I explored in a past blog on the subject, it’s amazing how much you can get done if you focus on one task at a time.

Identify your goals

To make the most of your marketing time, try to identify the key goals for your business. I like to make them specific. For example, you might say, “I want to attract three new local authority clients over the next four months”.

Once you have set your goals (five short-term goals per quarter in a good number), you can identify which activities are the most crucial to realising them. Using the example above, you might want to prioritise getting testimonials from your existing local authority clients and adding them to your website and social media pages, or publishing a case study about the difference your training has made to a local authority client. You might also devote time to connecting with local authority decision-makers on LinkedIn or writing a blog about some of the challenges local authorities are facing right now. These ideas translate into any sector and client type.

Group activities together

Another helpful strategy to make the most of your marketing time is to group together the activities on your to-do list. For example, you might want to spend one block of time writing as many social media posts or blog articles as possible, and then another block of time creating the different autoresponders for an email marketing campaign.

This approach helps you to stay focused on one tone of voice and/or call to action and goal.

Switch off your phone and emails

You might feel that you should be available to clients by phone or email at all times of the day. However, a study at the University of California back in 2013 found that the typical office worker is interrupted every 11 minutes throughout the day and that it takes a staggering 25 minutes to refocus your brain on the original task after an interruption. Even when you work from a home office, this can be a risk.

Another test highlighted by the NY Times found that distractions reduce performance and test results by 20%. In fact, even the expectation of a phone call was shown to negatively affect people’s focus.

With this in mind, I tend to switch off my phone and email when I’m working on my business marketing. I can’t think of a single situation where I’ve lost work because I let a call go to voicemail. Instead, I have a designated time each afternoon to return calls and respond to emails. Why don’t you give it a try?

Stay positive and break tasks down into small steps

Another reason that many small businesses fail to dedicate time to marketing is because they become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ‘stuff’ they need to do. You might be experiencing the same.

To help you use your marketing time effectively, I recommend breaking down each big task into a number of smaller tasks. For example, instead of saying, “I need to write a blog”, you might break this down into:

  1. Decide topic of this week’s blog
  2. Research topic
  3. Write first draft
  4. Take a break
  5. Re-read and edit blog
  6. Find image to go with blog
  7. Post blog on website
  8. Share blog on social media

Some of these tasks will only take a matter of minutes but this bite-sized approach can help you see you’re making progress and feel more in control. Remember, you can only climb a mountain one step at a time.

Consistency and repetition are key

The most effective way to balance the time you spend delivering training with marketing time – whether it’s 10% of your working week or 60% – is to allot a realistic amount of time each week and use it consistently.

I can’t stress how important it is to measure the results of your marketing activities. Which social media posts attract the best engagement? Which keywords bring the most traffic to your website? Which blog posts attract the most comments and shares? Which email titles get the highest open rates?

By measuring how your marketing performs, you can pinpoint where your valuable time is best spent and then throw your efforts into repeating and fine tuning the activities that offer the best return on your investment and conversion rates.

Need advice about how to split your time between delivering training and marketing your business? We cover this and more in Trainer Talk and I’d love you to join the conversation.


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