Marketing Strategy for Busy People

Illustration by Pedro Piccinini illustration of an arm with lots of watches

The time management expert David Allen, once said, “You can do anything, but not everything.”

Allen was talking about life in general, but his advice could be the golden rule of small business marketing, too. Between social media, blogging platforms, and email, you have so many ways to reach your customers. But… you’re also busy.

You don’t have time to do everything, so it’s critical you prioritize the channels that will have the greatest impact (rather than trying to be everywhere all the time.) This post will help you narrow down your marketing strategy so you can focus on what works best for you and your audience.

Multiple channels, multiple voices

Multiple social media channels illustration.

The internet, just like real life, requires different etiquette in different places. The way you talk (and what you talk about) at work is different from your bar banter on Friday night.

To get phenomenal results on social media, you need to understand the voice for the platform you’re on.

  • Twitter is the water cooler of the 21st century. It’s a one huge conversation, so don’t just talk at people by tweeting your own content constantly. Ask questions. Respond to people. Join conversations already in progress.
  • Blogs are today’s newspapers and editorial pages. Doing a guest post on the right one can establish you as a thought leader, just like getting published in traditional print media (but with a potential audience of millions.)
  • Instagram is a cocktail party. This is the place to share a good mix of material, like videos from “take your dog to work day” or photos from behind the scenes at your business. It’s not a place for serious discussions of current events or industry trends.
  • Facebook is a bulletin board of sorts. Here you can share a wide variety of news updates, current events, upcoming activities, and photos/videos. You can even broadcast live here to show real-time happenings.

Next, let’s talk about balancing attention. If you’re going to post across multiple platforms, you’ll need to make some changes to your content so you can repurpose it for the voice of a new channel.

Balancing attention and sales potential

Coat illustration.

Not all channels are created equal in terms of your potential to drive sales and create customers. Attention is the currency of the digital age, but “likes” and retweets don’t necessarily keep the lights on, whereas email click-throughs often do.

That’s not to say you can’t make something work on a channel that isn’t necessarily a major sales-driver. It’s all about balancing a channel’s return on investment potential with how well it fits your unique branding and style.

You might also want to look for untapped opportunities. For instance, if you work in a niche space, Reddit might be a place where you can establish yourself as an authority among a dedicated few.

Email is still the best deal in marketing

Envelope with confetti.

Email is the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world for marketing return on investment, averaging a little over 4000% average return for some companies. And according to a McKinsey survey, it holds the title in acquiring new customers as well, working at a rate 40 times higher than that of social media.

Email is also a place where everyone hangs out. Data shows 91% of adults say that they like receiving promotional emails, while 73% of Millennials prefer to contact brands via email. If Twitter is the water cooler, email is everyone’s home address—we all have one, and it’s the most personal way to reach someone.

Few platforms give you the power to talk directly to customers the way email does, so if you opt for an email marketing strategy it’s important that you learn how to use personalization.

Have a plan

Whiteboard illustration.

If you’re doing all your marketing yourself, it’s extremely important that your content on different platforms is mutually supportive.

Again, it’s about fitting your message to the platform. Don’t just retweet your Instagram posts or post your blog content to Facebook—think of creative ways to repackage your existing content in a way that complements the environment in which you’re posting.

Marketing expert Sara McGuire also recommends maintaining relationships with other people doing similar work to make marketing content creation a little bit easier.

It’s so important to know how to build and maintain relationships with other people doing content creation. Having those relationships is extremely valuable not only for promoting each other’s content, but also for swapping ideas, giving and receiving feedback, and generally helping each other out.

-Sara McGuire, marketing expert

How much time you should devote to these efforts?

It depends. Start with a small time investment of 15 minutes a day for posting, engaging, and answering questions. From there, you can expand your time investment based on platform activity and where you see the biggest returns. As a baseline, you should probably be spending anywhere from 3-4 hours a week scheduling content on the platforms you’ve selected and interacting with your audiences.

The bottom line: Remain flexible, and promote what works. You may even try some A/B testing: create two pieces of content and see which one performs better. Then put your marketing dollars behind it. According to Gary Vaynerchuk’s $1.80 Instagram Strategy, this can be done for just a few dollars per day.

Final thoughts

Multiple hats illustration.

There is no one-size-fits-all marketing strategy for small businesses. As a business owner doing your own marketing, you don’t have the time or resources to have a presence across all social media channels.

Luckily, this shouldn’t hold you back or keep you from putting out exceptional content. The key is to get organized.


  • Focus on the places where your target audience already spends their time and attention
  • Master the language of your audience’s preferred channel
  • Have a plan
  • Measure your results double-down on what works

Illustrations by Pedro Piccinio