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Richard Branson, Time, and Future Revenue

I often speak with business owners who wonder how much time they should be spending marketing their business. Do you know how much is enough?

In a recent interview with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Richard Branson explained how he managed his time. The owner and founder of the The Virgin Group – an empire of 350 companies that includes Virgin Atlantic airlines as well as ventures in telecommunications, trains, cosmetics, credit cards and several other industries – said that he spends about a third of his time on trouble shooting, another third on new projects, both charitable and business, and the last third on promoting and talking about the businesses he has set up.

Let me repeat what Richard said:

1/3 on trouble shooting
1/3 on new projects
1/3 on promoting and talking about the business (i.e. marketing – this is a key point)

He also makes time for family and vacation.

Other research suggests that successful consultants and independent professionals spend up to 30% of their time in marketing related activities.

What does that mean for you?

Marketing takes time… and you must make time for marketing.

This is probably the most critical concept for a service provider to understand. Time spent on effective marketing ensures future revenues. Think of it as working “on” the business, rather than “in” the business.

If you have read my special report “6 Marketing Myths That Can Ruin Your Service Business” you will know why you cannot always get clients immediately when you want them. Advertising is not effective for every service business. And the more intangible your service is, the more time it takes for potential clients to understand what you do and to trust you.

So you must plan ahead

As a starting point try planning to spend around 20% of your time on promoting your business. This means that out of every week you should be spending one day on marketing stuff.

OK — right now I know many of you will be saying to yourself — “Stuart doesn’t know what he’s saying. One whole day! Every week! What would I do with all that time?”

Think about this. Your marketing “stuff” could be:

  • Meeting new people/contacts/networking.
  • Writing information sheets, articles or newsletters.
  • Dealing with media contacts or event organizers.
  • Speaking with potential referrers and alliance partners.
  • Delivering presentations/seminars to industry groups and prospects.
  • Preparing material for new services or products you are offering.
  • Actively selling — meeting with prospects.
  • Fine tuning your web site (of course you have one, don’t you).
  • Working with your marketing consultant.

Spending one day per week is easy to do. It’s only 1.5-2 hours per day. That goes pretty quickly when you’re busy with the activities listed above.

Even if you start with only 1 hour per day — or half a day per week — you’ll be sowing the seeds of your future success.

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