Mistakes are part of life, and being a business owner or manager does not make you exempt from many of the common perils that small businesses fall into when it comes to their marketing. Small mistakes in your marketing approach can jeopardize effectiveness and return on investment , leaving a lot of small business owners to believe that certain media or approaches don’t work at all. A lot of times small tweaks can yield tremendous results.
Common Small Business Marketing Mistakes
1. Incorrect Marketing Message
It is important that your marketing campaigns, sales materials and staff convey the correct marketing message to your current and prospective customers. Customer-Centric marketing messages encourage the target customer to engage your business through educating them. One of the most common mistakes is that small businesses put too much emphasis on the product, service or the company and not acknowledging how their offering will improve or affect the lives of their customer.
Marketers should keep the following points in mind when creating clear and concise messages that engage customers. Identiy the needs of your current customers. This will help you boost your current offering and give you insight on what prospective customers may be looking for, what difficulties they need help with, and through what channels they can be reached. You can use surveys, focus groups or interviews.
Most business owners are surprised by the information they gather just by asking every customer the same question for a couple days. Highlight the benefits of your product plainly. Prospective customers in the information age don’t need fantasy words and creative slogans. They are busy people with limited dollars to spend, don’t insult their intelligence. If you have a quality product or service, simply tell them why it is better and follow through when the sale is made. Provide a measurable result and resonable guarantee.
Trying any new product or service is a risk for the consumer. If you have something of value, then split the risk with your customer. Give them a realistic expected outcome and some sort of compensation if that expectation falls short. That compensation doesn’t have to be in the form of a money-back guarantee, but assure them that they will receive value for their hard earned money.
2. Lack of Precision Marketing
Do things intentionally! With the Internet and all the measurable marketing tools obtainable there is no excuse for using the old “Throw it on the wall and see what sticks” philosophy. If it cannot be tracked or measured DO NOT DO IT!
If you cannot look at the numbers and see if a marketing campaign is effective, then it isn’t. Numbers don’t lie! If you are a smaller business with a tight marketing budget it’s important that you pay attention to your buying habits and those of your current customers. That is always a good start. If neither you nor you current customers use the Yellow Pages, then why would you advertise there?
The phonebook Sales Rep will tell you that you are missing some of your market, which may be true, but you have to focus first on those areas where people that are already primed to your product/service already are. With tight budgets you have to skim the easy customers that are already interested off the top before spending additional dollars convincing less primed customers how awesome your small business is.
3. Failure to Understand the Importance of Value
A small business must offer and clearly communicate the VALUE of their offerings to their customers and prospects. Creating value in the customer’s mind should be the primary focus of all of your marketing efforts.
Value is created not only by manipulating pricing through sales or promotions, but making sure that your customers understand exactly what they are getting for every dollar that they spend. It is both a logical and emotional calculation. X amount of dollars spent on advertising creates X amount of revenue for your business.
On the emotional side, look at a company like Coca-Cola. There are many colas on the market, but the reason we grab Coke over RC cola or the store brand… isn’t based on taste or quality usually… its based on an emotional value we place on the brand… childhood, family barbeques, good times or polar bears. If you can create Value in the minds of your customers you will find that you can charge more and increase margins.
4. Focusing on the SALE instead of Education
There’s a saying that rings true in this new age of marketing “People love to buy but hate being sold to” This unfortunately is ignored by many small business owners. The easiest way to lose a chance is force a sale on them before they are ready to buy.
Think used car salesman. In the information age it’s vital that education-based marketing be applied as part of your strategy. Today’s buyers are more informed than ever before. With the Internet they have access to infinite amounts of information to make quality buying decisions. You can establish trust with your customers by educating them first and letting your position of trust and authority guide the sales process.
5. Not Testing
One of the biggest mistakes is failing to test every possibility to deliver the best solutions to the customers; this applies to offline marketing as well as online marketing. Few decades back, small business owners used to face more difficulty with market testing due to limited budget and lack of resources, but this excuse is no longer valid today, thanks to Internet the cost to conduct price tests and identify what keywords, metrics and campaigns give the best ROI (return on investment) online has reduced so drastically that not testing them has become a cardinal sin.This ties into precision marketing and measuring results. Don’t forget that your current customers are a sample population that gives you great insight into where additional customers lie.
6. Not maintaining Relationship With Customers
Many small business owners spend a great deal of resources in acquiring customers, but unfortunately after the initial sale they don’t follow up with their customers. It has become a proven fact that backend sales contain the true riches; the reason for this is simple.
If a customer has already bought from you once, and you have a quality product or service, then seeds of trust have already be planted and it is up to you to cultivate that relationship and repeat. The customer will more than likely buy from you repeatedly, if you develop a good customer-relationship, by communicating with them frequently and capturing information about them. With communications tools like email marketing and twitter engaging your customers regularly is simple.
7. Selecting The Wrong Target Market
Never assume that your product will be able to appeal the whole market, because this assumption has led many small business owners to demise. It has harmed many large businesses too. You can prevent yourself from committing such as disastrous mistake by asking yourself following two questions.
Who is your target market or who are your target audiences? Who will buy your product or who will use your service? You should answer these questions clearly, and segment these markets by psychographics and demographics, on your ideal customers.
The time spent on this will significantly benefit your business. Information is power and money. Collect as much as possible about your customers and your target market and use common sense when making your marketing choices. Remember that learning from mistakes, marketing, is the key to success, so don’t fear making them, use the information they provide and market smarter.