It's stressful being the sole marketing person at your company. Everything falls on you, so there's no time to dig deep or innovate in any one area. And it's easy to get in a rut when you don't have team members to inspire new ideas.
Luckily, marketing is friendly to the jacks-of-all-trades. You can take advantage of cheap tools and tips from other marketers to free up time and test new techniques without hiring or adding to your budget.
Check out these three scenarios you might be in and how to make the most of them.
#1: When Money Is Scarce but You're Making It Work
Sometimes you’ll be expected to go it alone without much of a budget. In this case, you can still find ways to be more efficient and use free tools to automate some of your marketing efforts.
Take Advantage of Freemium and Cheap Pricing
A good percentage of SaaS tools for marketing and sales rely on large enterprises to sustain their business, offering competitive pricing for smaller companies or freemium tools with the main purpose of bringing in new names. You can take advantage of this pricing strategy by signing up for the cheaper services or starting free trials with several to see if they work for you.
Automate Everything You Can
Do what you can to take tedious manual work off your plate. Use Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule social posts, filters to keep your inbox clean and organized, and tools like Zapier to connect your apps and complete simple tasks.
Save Resources to Use in a Time Crunch
For example, if you’re not a designer by trade but are asked to create a “beautiful” brochure on the fly, a good collection of go-to free resources like Unsplash for stock photos or Sketch App Resources for designers might save you a ton of stress and a few late nights. Save sites or pins with examples of best practices in whatever area is the biggest time-suck for you so you don’t have to start from scratch when something tough comes up.
Document as if You Were Training Someone Else
Another lifesaver when you’re under stress is having clear step-by-step guidelines for work that may come up. For example, if you looked up how to create custom events in Google Analytics six months ago, created one, then abandoned the project, you may have to start your research over when you want to pick it up again. By documenting a process like this, you can go back and complete the steps when you’re pressed for time.
Manage your professional relationships in a CRM. Even if your company doesn’t pay for a tool like Salesforce, you can keep track of your network in free or low-priced CRM like Zoho. When you’re a solo act, having a carefully organized list of media contacts, freelancers, industry peers, and potential corporate partners is useful when you need a quick hand or outside opinion.
#2: When You Have a Small Marketing Budget
If you've secured a little marketing budget you’ll have to decide on the best way to spend it. Before you invest it all in a single new hire or big purchase, think about the impact you can make with smaller, targeted efforts.
Focus on What Gets You Quantifiable Results
If you’ve been given a small budget and want to pave the way for more, you need a way to convince your boss (or yourself) that spending more is justified. So while hiring a writer or strategist to “help lessen your workload” might sound nice, the results might be subjective. Think of projects with a clear end date and metrics for success that will help you build the case for a marketing budget in a few months, not a few years.
Eliminate Adminstrative Tasks That Distract or Delay You
Instead of spending your extra marketing dollars on actual marketing resources (people you'll have to train or tools you'll have to learn), consider using them to eliminate the work that holds you back from doing better marketing yourself. When you’re working alone it’s easy to get distracted by administrative tasks. It’s often better to hire contractors or use services that let you do less organizing, researching, or cleaning up data.
Avoid Overspending on Feature-Rich Software or “Aspirational Tools”.
It’s tempting to buy a fancy analytics platform or access to a giant database of influencers and journalists. The problem is in the implementation—you realize you didn’t budget enough time to actually collect and integrate all of that data, or pitch every contact you now have access to. We’ve all done it, but mistakes like these will make you seem less credible to the people depending on you for results.
#3: When Your Budget Is Sizeable but Hiring Isn't the Answer
Sometimes money isn’t the issue as much as timing. You may not have headcount for a full-time employee or your workload fluctuates too much to make an in-house hire. In this case you have it a little easier—you can hire a contractor or an agency to accomplish the same goals as an in-house team would.
Don't Try to Do Everything at Once
Since you still have to oversee your outsourced projects, taking on too much can hurt your results across the board. To be safe, overestimate the amount of management and training you’ll have to put in on each project and focus on one at a time until you see results you’re proud of.
Say No When Saying Yes Will Hurt Other Projects
Being the entire marketing team often means saying yes to pretty much everything stakeholders want. Learn to say no when a new distraction is proposed, or say yes on the condition that another project must be put on the back burner. Saying yes might feel good at the time, but it feels far better to deliver.
Combine Short- and Long-Term Projects for Consistent Results
Depending on the area of marketing you focus on, you may have to wait awhile to see your strategy pay off. Content, for example, might take a few months to show real results while ad spending can bring in new leads immediately. If you need to present quick returns to stakeholders, try balancing your longer-term programs with quicker wins like optimizing part of your website or running paid promotion on social. Checking traffic sources on Google Analytics is a good place to start to find the low-hanging fruit.
Make Time for "Secret" Projects
As long as you’re spending ethically and meeting your goals, consider experimenting with small, more innovative techniques alongside your normal obligations. Why keep it quiet? For one, sharing plans too early may build up expectations that you can't necessarily meet. Second, your well-meaning colleagues or boss may hijack the idea and turn it into a big, time-consuming project. If you try something out quietly and only announce its success upon completion, you’ll learn more and gain support for future experimentation. Obviously, good judgement is a prerequisite for this one.
Being a one-person team can be hard but rewarding. Be kind to Future You and always be on the lookout for ways to work smarter.