Common Mistakes Small Business Owners Make
Small businesses typically have little to no marketing dollars. So, getting the word out is tough. With an unforgiving competitive market, small businesses need to invest in their presence more now than ever. Word of mouth is simply not enough anymore. With shrinking marketing budgets and not enough hours in the day, what can small businesses do to make themselves known?
While competing with big-box retailers should not be your goal, there are simple things that many small business owners overlook that could be costing them precious business.
“Our Business is All About Word-of-Mouth”
Let’s begin with the obvious, “our business has been around for 20-years, and has grown from word-of-mouth” or “the product/service speaks for itself”. Unfortunately, having a world-class product or providing world-class service just isn’t enough anymore. Customers have more options than ever and can do research within seconds. If you don’t make yourself known, you will be forgotten.
Whether you’ve been in business 20 years or this your first year open, it’s time to invest in some type of marketing if you want to grow and maintain your business.
Taking the time to invest in the livelihood of your business does not require you to have a degree or a full-time person on staff, it simply requires you to care and recognize the need for it. Investing in your brand will only make you more memorable to more people and extend your reach as a business owner.
What About Your Online Presence?
Many small businesses do not have a website. It is estimated that 51% of small businesses in the United States do not have a website. Creating a website is vital to your company, whether you’d like to admit it or not. Even if you do not have an ecommerce site, having an online presence is important. With many potential customers doing some type of search online before they buy, missing out on this precious exposure will cost you more than you’ll ever know.
Speaking of an online presence, notice I said a website is vital. Many small businesses believe that having a Facebook or Twitter will make up for a website, but it absolutely does not. While social media is a very important aspect of your business, it will not take the place of website. Potential customers need a place where they can learn about your service or product uninterrupted by your competitors. The goal of your social media pages should be to drive traffic to your website; not the other way around.
Creating a website may seem intimidating, but there are a lot of user friendly tools to create them inexpensively. Using companies like Weebly, GoDaddy, and Wix, you can create an easy to maintain site within a reasonable budget.
I cannot stress this enough, do not neglect your online presence. If you do, you’ll find yourself left in the dust like many of the retailers that you’ve seen close around you.
So What’s the Plan?
It’s always important to have a plan action. Just like you created a business plan when you decided to follow your dreams and open your business; marketing is no different. Many small businesses fall into general or idealized marketing. Assuming what’s been done in the past, or what your neighbor is doing will work for you, will have you spending needless dollars on something that is not yielding results for you.
Do your research. Decide who you want to target. This is very important. Blanket marketing is not as effective as it used to be. With customers having more and more options, you need to make sure to spend your time targeting the right customers.
Typically, resources are limited with a small business, especially time and money, but that’s no excuse to not do your research. When the research is done to find out what exactly your customer wants and how they want to be engaged, you’ll find yourself spending less time and money cleaning up bad marketing in the long run. Once you’ve decided who and how you’ll market, measure your results. The only way that you’ll know if your marketing efforts are successful is if you have a way to measure your return on investment. Whether you’d like to measure results by the number of email opens and clicks a campaign has, or how many customers check into your business on Yelp, you must have something in place to track your marketing performance.
When it comes to owning a business, there are always a lot of things to keep in mind. Marketing your business needs to be on the forefront of your brain. Avoid making these marketing mistakes, and see how your business thrives.