Question: There are SO many resources, opportunities for learning, mentors, etc., how can I efficiently choose the marketing technique(s) that will most likely align with my business plans, goals and industry?  How do I best allocate my limited resources (time/$) to actually grow my business (while avoiding Bright Shiny Object Syndrome)?

The simple answer is: Know Thyself. If you’ve done the homework and have true clarity about who you are (your strengths and weaknesses), what your resources are (time, money, people) and what your goals are (mission/vision/values), you’ll be able to hold anything up to that and very quickly answer the question, “Does this serve me?” The challenge is to do the homework. So let’s look at what that means in depth…

Know your Strengths and Weaknesses

Your strengths are the intersection of your natural talents and skills and the things you love to do. When you know what these are, you’ll look for strategies that fit best with these. For example, if you love to speak in public (and you’re good at it), this is a marketing strategy you should probably add to your mix. In those places where you’re weak, and it looks like a particular strategy needs to happen given your target market, you’ll want to hire that out to someone who’s great at doing the work. For example, if you’re not comfortable with technology, but you know that email marketing needs to happen, you’ll need to find a virtual assistant.

Know your Resources

Have you created a marketing budget? Do you know how much money you have to invest? Do you have a clear calendar of scheduled and unscheduled time? Do you know who your support team is? If you haven’t done these things yet, it’s time to tackle them. A marketing budget should flow naturally from your business/marketing plan (so start there if you haven’t created one yet). If you don’t have a support team yet, it’s time to start building one. That means: a mastermind group of peers and colleagues; a trusted mentor; skilled professionals who help you with the tasks that aren’t in your purview (lawyer, accountant, marketing consultant, etc.). If there’s clarity around understanding what resources you have available to play with, you’ll be able to say yes or no much more quickly. And when you get stuck on the answer, you’ll have folks you trust who can advise you appropriately.

Know your Goals

Have you properly researched and written a business and marketing plan? This must-have tool is crucial in your fight against Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. Knowing your target market inside and out and having a clear vision for where you want to go and what you want to accomplish, will go miles toward helping you know which strategies will work for you. Most of the time, when we end up on a path that wastes our time and money, it’s because we never understood where we were going to begin with. Obviously, the antidote to all this confusion is clarity. And clarity comes from thoughtful research and planning. You’ll never have a crystal ball. There are no guarantees. But you can do the research, write the plan, know who you are and what you have to work with. You can then hold up any opportunity against that knowledge and be much better situated to discern your answer. If you’re not already there, start by scheduling some CEO time for yourself every week. At least one hour to review your progress, compare it to your original plans, and investigate opportunities. If you find it hard to keep that appointment with yourself (or, you’re not sure where to start), you might consider working with a trusted mentor or coach. And if your budget won’t allow for that, seek out free resources like your local small business development center or SCORE. They offer free to very low cost assistance. And finally — make sure you’ve got a solid group of peers and colleagues you can go to in a pinch. A mastermind group is invaluable for brainstorming, accountability and regular reality checks. If you feel like you’ve done all of those things and you’re still struggling to make good choices, then you might just be a person who needs to take a bit longer to make decisions. That’s okay, too. My guy likes to make a spread sheet of options before making a major purchase. If it helps you to see everything on paper first, work with that. (I’ll just point out though, that you’d need to know your strengths and weaknesses in order to know that this is something that would help you.) Still stuck? If you’ve got a specific question about a specific marketing strategy, go ahead and ask it below in the comments. I’m happy to see if I can help you get clear about your best option. And if you’d rather chat privately, I offer free 20-minute mini-consults to potential new clients.