My Top Time Management Tip for Marketing Craft Food Brands

My Top Time Management Tip for Marketing Craft Food Brands

“If you want steady sales, you need steady marketing.” I heard this first from my friend and mentor, Ilise Benun, but I will never tire of sharing that bit of wisdom.

But what does steady marketing mean for the Good Food industry? 

Well, it means many of the same things as for any business. A healthy, thriving, steady marketing program relies on five components:

  • Your sales strategy
  • Your annual marketing plan
  • A reasonable budget
  • A consistent schedule
  • Reliable systems for deploying your tactics

Steady is the operative word here. Many leaders, from large to small businesses alike, take marketing for granted. So many resources are invested in creating a product, and marketing often comes secondary to production. A common misconception is that sales will come naturally as long as products are made available.

Marketing draws buyers to you. Your products won’t sell if they can’t be found. You need a consistent schedule with reliable systems for deploying your tactics, all leading to what every business wants to achieve—sales and growth. This is why I see time-blocking as an integral part of creating a marketing plan. 

As a leader of your own Good Food business, I know you’re juggling a lot of things at once. That’s why you can’t afford to lose time on those critical marketing projects. Segregating your activities into the right time blocks will help you efficiently manage your business and drive it toward success.

Virginia Foodie Essentials:

  • A healthy, thriving, steady marketing program relies on these five components: your sales strategy, annual marketing plan, a reasonable budget, a consistent schedule, and reliable systems for deploying your tactics. - Georgiana Dearing
  • As a leader, time management is one of the hardest things you may have to face. - Georgiana Dearing
  • Putting marketing on your calendar as a task to attend to is central to having a steady, consistent marketing machine that pulls prospects to you in ways that support your sales goals. - Georgiana Dearing
  • Living in a perpetual state of urgency can cause burnout and even result in some health issues. Time blocking is one tool that allows you to focus on specific functions of running your business during specified times. - Georgiana Dearing
  • When you make specific commitments to certain actions, when you fall off the rails, you know how to get right back on track because you have a plan and you have a system in place that brings the focus back to running your business. - Georgiana Dearing

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Like any other business, Good Food brands need a healthy, thriving, steady marketing program that relies on five components: sales strategy, annual marketing plan, reasonable budget, consistent schedule, and reliable systems for deploying tactics.
  • As a leader, it isn’t easy to manage time, so it is essential that you set an effective time management strategy.
  • Sometimes you can’t adhere to your time-blocking plan, especially in sickness, crisis, or other unexpected events, but it’ll help get you back on track.
  • Marketing projects won’t happen unless you prioritize them.
  • What time-blocking looks like for me and my business: Monday is for marketing, Tuesday’s for outreach, Wednesday is set for money, Thursday is for coaching, and Friday is for thinking, and any overflow tasks.

Other Resources Mentioned:

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Full Transcript:

Note: We use AI transcription so there may be some inaccuracies

[00:00:00] Georgiana Dearing: If you are too busy to plan your day and decide what business problems you need to tackle, You are letting every other piece of your company decide how you will spend your day.

[00:00:14] Georgiana Dearing: Welcome to the Virginia Foodie Podcast, where we lift a lid on the craft food industry and tell the stories behind the good food, good people, and good brands that you know and love. If you've ever come across a yummy food brand and wondered how did they do that? How did they turn that recipe into a successful business?

[00:00:33] Georgiana Dearing: Then we've got some stories for you.

[00:00:39] Georgiana Dearing: Hello, are you Makers Bakers and Foodie fans? Welcome to the podcast. I'm George Dearing, the Virginia Foodie, and I provide marketing strategy and coaching to good food brands. And in my coaching practice, I must say this phrase out loud, it leaves once a month and today I'm gonna say it again. If you want steady sales, you need steady marketing.

[00:01:02] Georgiana Dearing: But what does steady marketing mean for the good food industry? Well, it means many of the same things that it means for any business. A healthy, thriving, steady marketing program relies on these five components, your sales strategy, your annual marketing plan, a reasonable budget, a consistent schedule, and reliable systems.

[00:01:26] Georgiana Dearing: Were deploying your tactics. Earlier this year, I talked about setting goals in episode 69, and I gave tips for creating an annual marketing plan in episode 71. Today I wanna focus on getting it done, that consistent schedule and developing reliable systems from that steady marketing platform. As a leader, one of the hardest things you may have to face is time manage.

[00:01:53] Georgiana Dearing: When you show up in the morning, no one tells you Today we need to hit this production target. So get to work. You are the person setting those targets. There is no one else defining your day for you. You may have a broad vision of the targets. You may have sales orders that need to be fulfilled, but beyond the actions of producing a product, there is no one setting the framework for your.

[00:02:18] Georgiana Dearing: And it is very easy to let the day-to-day operations set your schedule for you getting orders out. The door is immediate and it's easy to just bring your attention to that and keep moving. Marketing or sewing the seeds for future orders is a long range activity, and it doesn't feel like it has the same urgency as your production schedule.

[00:02:42] Georgiana Dearing: That's how that steady marketing begins. Its slow slide down. The customer you have now feels noisier than the customer you hope to have in the future. Your marketing becomes a bolt-on activity that happens as your product is rolling out the door. And it's not just small businesses that have this problem.

[00:03:03] Georgiana Dearing: I have worked with multi-billion dollar corporations that have the same issues. Product development teams were focused on making products, marketing and selling them was supposed to just happen. The result was overspending and ineffective marketing. And this is why time blocking is a topic I touch on regularly and my marketing made easy group coaching and in all my coaching for that matter.

[00:03:29] Georgiana Dearing: Putting marketing on your calendar is a task to attend to, is central to having a steady, consistent marketing machine that pulls prospects to you in ways that support your sales. I want to share with you an exact quote one of my clients gave me as I was putting this episode together. It's something that I hear all the time, and you may recognize yourself in this statement.

[00:03:53] Georgiana Dearing: I know all about time blocking, but that's not gonna work for me. I'm too busy running my business. I have a little tough love to offer. Back to that statement, every single entrepreneur that I've met has said this at one time, or. And here's the real truth, y'all aren't that special. Every business owner, department head, or even marketing executive thinks that their schedule and their deadlines are unique and overpowering.

[00:04:24] Georgiana Dearing: They couldn't possibly assign time to specific types of tasks because they're too busy putting out fires to actually plan their time. Well, I'm not that special either because I've done the same thing. But what I've learned about time blocking is that it allows you to work on your business and not in your business.

[00:04:44] Georgiana Dearing: When that client said, I'm too busy running my business, they were really describing a business that is running them. If you are too busy to plan your day and decide what business problems you need to tackle, you are letting every other piece of your company decide how you will spend your. Speaking from my own experience, that is a stressful and often unrewarding way to be an entrepreneur.

[00:05:11] Georgiana Dearing: Living in a perpetual state of urgency can cause burnout and even result in some health issues. Time blocking is one tool that allows you to focus on specific functions of running your business during specified times. I use time blocking to calm the chaos. Layering in planning tools and documenting processes with checklists is what helps keep me sane.

[00:05:36] Georgiana Dearing: I will be really truthful. Not all of my weeks adhere to my time blocking plan. You cannot plan for crises or illness. Something will always crop up that needs urgent attention. But if you make specific commitments to certain actions, when you fall off the rails, you know how to get right back on track because you've got a plan and you've got a system in place that brings the focus back to running your business.

[00:06:03] Georgiana Dearing: That commitment is really important to your company's growth. Your marketing projects will not happen unless you prioritize them. Marketing is your lead gen. Marketing also costs money. And if everything operates in crunch time mode, you'll spend more money for fewer results. If you've hired a web company, you may have previously encountered time blocking.

[00:06:28] Georgiana Dearing: Engineers are really good at time blocking, perhaps to the point where it seems impossible for you to implement. But I'll share with you what time blocking looks like in a creative production. This is an example of my kind of planning how I'm gonna spend my time. I kind of mapped it out, I've written it down and in my world, I have one day of the week assigned to what I consider big ticket items.

[00:06:55] Georgiana Dearing: Monday's Marketing Tuesday's, outreach Wednesday's, Monday, Thursday's coaching, which is my product production time. And Friday I have a block of time set aside for thinking at the risk of sounding super nerd. Saturday is for chores and Sunday is for relaxing. But what can I say? I'm an entrepreneur and I raised two children.

[00:07:18] Georgiana Dearing: I was a partner in two companies and a working mom at the same time. I had to have a plan or it would all be a shambles. I happened to love to cook too, so there were many things I was doing at home to keep a steady, calm, environ. And my plan for managing all of it was to divide and conquer. In an example, straight from my home life.

[00:07:40] Georgiana Dearing: My first experience with what I now understand is time blocking was when I committed to one big grocery shop excursion a month. That made a huge impact on our family budget almost immediately, but it wasn't a magical transition, and at first we ended up eating spaghetti every night during that last week of the month time on shopping.

[00:08:01] Georgiana Dearing: I eventually created a master list of all my pantry staples so I could check it off before I left and see what I needed. Now you don't have to be that granular in your personal life. I admit that kind of is going to an extreme, but I share it as an example of how one simple commitment netted several downstream results.

[00:08:21] Georgiana Dearing: Committing to one shopping day a month started as a way to free up other weekends. It soon reduced our grocery. Then it turned into better meal planning all month long. But my favorite result is that I stop stressing over what to eat every night and instead use that brain space for what interesting thing can I do with the chicken tonight?

[00:08:43] Georgiana Dearing: Freeing up that kind of brain space also happens when you assign business functions to specific time blocks. So in my work schedule, I have money assigned to Wednesdays. I picked Wednesday because I meet with my accountant monthly on a Wednesday, and that's the time block that she assigned to me. So during the week when a tax form or a renewal notice comes in, I move it to my Wednesday folder.

[00:09:10] Georgiana Dearing: When I get invoices via email, I set a reminder to have that message show up again on Wednesday morning. I even keep a journal for all my notes about money matters, so I can easily look back to last month's actions or find instructions from my accountant about how to code something. All the little time sucking things that can draw my attention throughout the week.

[00:09:31] Georgiana Dearing: Having a day assigned to money matters just two things for me. First, it keeps me from running down rabbit holes when something new comes in the mail, and second, it puts boundaries around the time I spend dealing with the minutia of business. When I sit down on those money days, I can quickly deal with all the bills, scan my cash flow, and communicate clearly to my accountant about the business.

[00:09:56] Georgiana Dearing: A certain amount of time is involved in opening QuickBooks in writing checks and recording transactions, and instead of getting into and out of the software and that frame of mind a few times a week, I gained the power of efficiency by combining multiple instances of the same task. The rest of the week, I can tell myself, I don't have to think about that right now.

[00:10:19] Georgiana Dearing: I'll deal with it on Wednesday. Now, I didn't start with everything mapped out like my example, I'd have quit immediately if that was the case. Instead, I just started with blocking out time for one action. And for me, that was networking years ago before I ever described it as time blocking. The first business task I signed was outreach.

[00:10:43] Georgiana Dearing: Believe it or not, I'm an introvert and conversing with strangers takes a lot of mental energy for me. But to grow new clients, I needed to find them first. I had to make it a regular habit or I would shy away from it again and again. So I made sending emails and making calls to prospects, my first task every Tuesday morning, and it had amazing results.

[00:11:07] Georgiana Dearing: When I assign outreach to a time block, and I use it consistently. I'm able to focus on researching new contacts, making that first touch, and then following up in a meaningful way and in a timely manner. Over time, my network grew and I had a steady stream of prospects looking at my list of time blocks, you may wonder why I have marketing on Mondays.

[00:11:32] Georgiana Dearing: I didn't invent Marketing Mondays because I love alliteration. I put marketing on Mondays because it's important to growing your business. Marketing needs to be attended to first. Nothing will bloom in three months if you don't plant the seeds now and in the good food industry and especially the retail space, getting that new big contract can take nine months to a year.

[00:11:59] Georgiana Dearing: If you don't start now, next year's sales are gonna. Many people I know use Fridays for marketing because it's the fun stuff. But what happens for me and for many of my clients is that operations get in the way of marketing the week. It gets out of hand with urgent problems, and Friday becomes the day all the spillover gets handled before the weekend and marketing flies out the window.

[00:12:27] Georgiana Dearing: A good portion of my food clients participate in farmer's markets and food shows. Fridays become all about preparing for sales. You think you'll be able to do your marketing work and then prep for a weekend selling window, but most times you're busy finishing something else and your window for lead nurturing closes to a small sliver or disappears all together.

[00:12:50] Georgiana Dearing: You might think of chanting that mantra. Again, my business is special. I can't be confined to a specific. But I would argue that Friday is just the wrong time for marketing. Friday should be kept open enough to handle the spillover that is natural in any small business. It took me some time to learn this about my own business.

[00:13:12] Georgiana Dearing: I've made my living in marketing for over 20 years, and the truth is that serving my clients always took precedence over creating my own marketing materials. I would talk to my staff a lot about treating our marketing just as we would a client project. But invariably, our deadlines would get pushed down the road in favor of straightening out a client's dilemma.

[00:13:34] Georgiana Dearing: Instead of giving up in despair, we changed how we managed our time. I decided to honor the mess that Fridays can become. We moved all our internal creative deadlines back to Thursdays, and we assign our own marketing projects to Monday. Our marketing needs were began to be consistently met and our client projects hit more deliverable dates with most going out the door on Thursday, and then the random few fires were wrapped up on Fridays and then delivered during the week they were promised.

[00:14:06] Georgiana Dearing: It was the same amount of work and the same number of hours. We just gave everything a manageable priority. An important note about time blocking is that while I have tasks assigned to specific days, I don't spend entire days on those tasks. I only use up two hour blocks of time assigned to each category, and on some days I use two of those two hour blocks, but most of those days I spend just two hours attending to the business function for that day.

[00:14:35] Georgiana Dearing: Because I am the content creator for my business, my marketing tasks will take longer than two hours a. But assigning a specific day for that is how I manage it with all the other tasks I need to do, including work for my clients. The place to start your time blocking journey is with marketing and outreach.

[00:14:59] Georgiana Dearing: Those two functions go hand in hand when it comes to reaching your sales goals. Take a look at the cycle of your week and select two days. You can block off two hours on your calendar. The earlier in the week, the better, which is why I use Monday and Tuesday for my marketing and outreach. Put those times at the earliest part of the day.

[00:15:20] Georgiana Dearing: I start my day by clearing through emails and social media and dealing with messages and sorting tasks and projects or time blocks. I spend that sort of administration time first, but immediately after that are my assigned work sessions. I promise you it will be messy at. You'll spin your wheels and you forget something, and you may feel like you're stealing time from something urgent.

[00:15:44] Georgiana Dearing: You'll also be tempted to keep sliding those blocks to other days. Don't do that. Stick to the plan. Soon, those time blocks will begin to become a pool of calm in the chaos of your growth. All that other activity that seems so urgent will still get done. I promise you, you'll still unpack from the markets and check your I.

[00:16:07] Georgiana Dearing: You'll send invoices, you'll pay bills, you'll order supplies. Those things won't be neglected. They are squeaky wheels and they will get oiled. You should start time blocking this month. Pick one thing and I strongly suggest marketing, of course, and put it on your Monday calendar for next week. If you are in a big organization where your calendars, pray to everyone else's schedule, mark yourself busy and set the meeting to.

[00:16:36] Georgiana Dearing: Then show up for yourself and for your business for just two hours. You'll thank yourself later. I will bet that some of you are already time blocking. Even if you don't call it that. You know that client from before, the one who told me their business was too special for time blocking. Well, we had that conversation on a Wednesday morning.

[00:17:00] Georgiana Dearing: The day and time they told me was the best day of the week for them for meetings and phone calls. It was even scheduled two weeks out from my request because the client's Wednesday mornings were already booked up that far, holding those Wednesdays for meetings and phone calls. That's time blocking. My Wednesdays are for money, so for that call, I just moved that money time block until after the call with my.

[00:17:28] Georgiana Dearing: If you need help getting started, join Marketing Made Easy. It has a built-in marketing Monday on the third, Monday of every month. Even committing to just one day a month is the baby step that will set you on the road to success. And if you have questions about the program, send me a message. I'm happy to help.

[00:17:49] Georgiana Dearing: And that's the wrap on this Marketing Monday topic. If you appreciated this episode, then please like, subscribe and share it. It is the easiest way to show support for any small business. Thanks for listening, and if you wanna learn more about how to grow your own food brand, then click on Grow My

[00:18:12] Georgiana Dearing: If you're a lover of local food, then be sure to follow us. We are at VA Foodie on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Join the conversation and tell us. Your adventures with good food, good people, and good brands.