In both the last post, Taking time to make time, and Finding time to create, I have focused on how precious time is for the things we find important. Obviously, different things are important to people for different reasons. In a marketing context, however, there are only so many hours in the day. If you are selling a product or products (as I do when I sell handmade goods online), it is critical for you to make good decisions about where to concentrate your time and energy. If you don’t, you will achieve neither your creative nor your marketing goals. You just can’t do it all, at least not well.
Decades ago, motivational writer and organizational consultant Stephen Covey penned an entire series of books designed to help you make good use of your time: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, First Things First, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, and the list goes on. Underlying all of these books is Covey’s four-quadrant model of time management, or the idea that that you can compartmentalize your life into categories that will help you prioritize what should be done first. If you approach all tasks with the same degree of urgency, you’re basically “seeing the forest for the trees,” a phrase that refers to getting lost in the details and missing the big picture.
Some people will tell you that for the best quality in life, you should aim to get done the tasks that fall into Covey’s Box Number 2, “Important, Not Urgent.” A very busy friend of mine who feels forced to concentrate only on what’s important and urgent in his life comments that the time it takes him to assign categories to everything is probably important but not urgent, thus negating the need for the entire exercise. But in reality, we all sort things consciously or unconsciously to determine what tasks we are going to tackle first, and ultimately which ones will simply fall by the wayside.
I have been selling handmade goods on Etsy for a little over 5-1/2 years now, and during that time I have learned a bit about marketing. It’s one of the parts of selling that probably falls into the “important, not urgent” categories, but if you do no marketing at all, or you do so poorly, you tend not to sell. Part of marketing involves the use of social media such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and much more. There are so many social networking vehicles, in fact, that you must be choiceful about what you use. This is where quality is more important than quantity. I attended a conference a month ago at which social networking was discussed in the context of marketing. The speaker, Kim Carpenter, stressed that instead of using many social networks, it is more effective to use one or two well, and then drop the rest. I would add a few more tips to this advice:
- Know your audience.
- Know your social network (and whom it reaches best).
- Adapt your message to both your audience and your social network.
So, how do you choose your social networks? If you are selling specific products, then good photos can be more impactful than words. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest may be great choices for you. If you want people to associate you with a particular area of expertise, then words may be more important than pictures. According to HootSuite social content writer Evan LePage in his post, Google+ for Business – The 3 Best Types of Google+ Content, “Be it information on a product update, social media tips or new tools for learning, Google+ users have clearly expressed their thirst for knowledge.”
Whether you agree with LePage or not, it’s a fact that some social networking venues work better than others, depending on your intent. “It’s a big time suck,” say many users about social media. Yes, they can be. (See Covey’s Box Number 4: Not Important, Not Urgent.) But if you use the ones that are appropriate for your purposes, and use them intelligently, they can be great marketing tools. Manage your social networks; don’t allow them to manage you. As German playwright, poet and novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”
© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.