The marketing efforts of a business connect it to its customers and clients by providing them with the information they need about offerings. Small businesses need to perform this against stiff competition from large, established brands and peers. You can accomplish this by avoiding some mistakes that can derail your efforts and cause losses.
Once that’s been considered, you can proceed with the development of a viable marketing plan. There are many tips available for you to use and get the most out of your marketing strategy for little change in expenses.
Professional help can also be sought to make the entire process more efficient. Read on to know more about the common marketing mistakes and 10 top marketing tips for small businesses.
Running a small business is no small undertaking. It requires enormous efforts on the part of the entrepreneur to manage a venture on a small budget and limited brand awareness. Raising that brand awareness and value without increasing expenses is the ultimate goal.
However, as an entrepreneur, you know it is easier said than done, with every day being a juggling act between the various demands on your often limited budget.
With competition being increasingly tough, breaking through the clutter to have your brand voice heard requires you to exploit every resource and marketing channel available. Fortunately, the digital world offers numerous means to market your fledgling business at minimal costs.
Here are some marketing tips and some common mistakes to avoid for small businesses. Read on to learn how to get the budget-bound high conversions your small business needs to stand apart and grow to new heights.
The Small Business Marketing Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make
Marketing any business takes a lot of work in multiple aspects. It can get challenging for beginners as well as seasoned entrepreneurs. And, if you aren’t careful, you could fall into certain marketing traps and find yourself not only losing out on opportunities but also incurring unwanted losses.
Here are some of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make regardless of industry vertical that you need to be aware of and avoid diligently:
Not Knowing Your Target Audience
If you want to quickly scale your small business, you need a higher conversion rate. And, that isn’t possible unless you understand your target audience. Otherwise, you risk trying to reach out to those consumers who are not interested in what you have to offer. When that happens, you’d only be draining your marketing budget while getting little to nothing in return.
So you must start your entrepreneurial venture by deciding who your target audience is. Your marketing strategy can then be created around that audience as you will have clarity regarding their particular demands. If you’re into ecommerce, then this means a high ROI, especially with returning customers.
Not Having a Website
Your website is like your business’s ID in today’s world. Yet, you may be surprised to know that nearly 51% of small businesses don’t have one. You simply cannot afford to be in that league of businesses as it will immensely hurt your brand image and bottom line. And you cannot make do with a basic website that looks like it’s straight from the ’90s either.
Your website needs to make the most of modern web design technology and the latest trends to appeal to your target audience. Simultaneously, it must find the right balance between valuable content and optimization without overwhelming its visitors with complicated design or poor navigation.
You must ensure that it reflects the ethos and vision of your brand creatively and succinctly.
Being Blind to Your Competition
It takes confidence to face the unknown and open up shop as an entrepreneur. But it’s easy to let that confidence sway you to ignore your surroundings in terms of who you’re up against.
Your push to beat the odds, combined with a tight schedule may render you ignorant of your competitors and their actions. And while it’s a good philosophy to be your own best competition, the fact is that you aren’t alone.
In the digital landscape, it is critical to take stock of what the top market contenders are doing and how they are maintaining their position. Gather every bit of information you can about them to help formulate a marketing strategy that can turn the odds in your favor.
Mixing up Your Marketing Strategies
If you’re an entrepreneur with more than one business across different verticals, then it’s possible that you’d consider using the same marketing formula for all of them. But this approach is bound to fail because of the simple fact that no two businesses are alike, even if they fall under a single brand/banner. This can even apply to two or more products in the same category.
For instance, if you’re a small business that’s into tissues, paper towels, etc., then you cannot afford to mix up the marketing strategies for your kitchen towel line and your toilet paper one. And neither can you include your luxury products in the marketing campaign for a regular product lineup.
Likewise, you’ll need to work on reconciling the marketing necessities for disparate products/services.
Putting all of Your Marketing Budget into a Single Venture
Allocating a share of your overall budget for marketing is considered an investment for a reason. You are expecting to gain profits from that expenditure. However, it isn’t wise to invest your entire budget into a single marketing effort. In case it doesn’t pan out, you’ll be left with a big hole in your budget without enough cash inflow to fill it sufficiently.
While diversification of your marketing efforts across various channels is necessary, your strategy must fit your business objectives, brand image, and budget, and be aligned with customers’ preferences.
For example, you’re not likely to grab the senior citizen market for your adult diapers if you choose social media as your main marketing channel. You’re not likely to find a sizable chunk of them there regardless of your social media platform of choice.
Ambiguous Marketing Plans
In addition to setting business goals based on the SMART methodology (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound), you must define every stage with utmost clarity.
The entire pipeline and every step of the consumer journey across multiple channels must be charted out in advance with due consideration given to every influential factor, like budget, the delegation of tasks to various personnel, the timeline of implementation, consumer contact data used, review period, etc.
There needs to be a good balance between the plan’s rigidity to gain a well-defined path towards achieving objectives and flexibility to accommodate changing market dynamics. It must also have room for a sudden change of circumstances, like personnel quitting and downtime for maintenance.
Every point of the plan should be well written and distributed to relevant stakeholders according to their role.
You Don’t do Any Marketing
If you can find a niche untapped market where your innovative product/service stands out as the only (or the most unique) solution, then you’re not likely to need much marketing. However, another (more likely) scenario is that your chosen domain has tough competition, already established players, or a divided audience.
This requires marketing on your part to break through that wall, reach out to potential customers, and create your own space as a seller or service provider.
Even names as huge as Tesla and Google can be seen releasing ads to market their services. Plus, having a thorough marketing strategy is the norm for a reason-it is necessary, and its works.
Although, in certain cases, word-of-the-mouth and referrals seem enough. However, it is important to note that every business and every target market has different constraints. A local shop might do well with word-of-mouth marketing whereas its online counterpart might fail in gathering a decent number of users or converting enough of them into paying customers.
This is where marketing becomes a necessity because it determines how long and how well a business can survive.
The 10 Marketing Tips to Turn Your Small Business Profitable
Once you’ve become aware of the potential pitfalls likely to occur with your attempts at marketing your small business, you can circumvent them with appropriate preparation.
But, while being cautious might help your business stay afloat, it is often not enough to succeed. Being aware of common mistakes and traps might make your marketing efforts more effective, but you need to do more if you want optimal results.
The volatile environment you have to work in as a small business owner leaves the door always open to improving that marketing strategy. Technological innovations in the field and changing consumer aspirations are particularly difficult to anticipate and adapt to.
Hiring a professional small business marketing agency can help alleviate much of this issue, retaining your competitiveness. But, despite that, you need to educate yourself on how the system works and you can make the most of it. The best way to do that is by keeping tabs on industrial innovations and updating your strategy accordingly.
So, alongside external assistance, you need to follow these marketing tips to boost your ROI.
1. Highlight Your USP
What sets you apart from the competition? Do you have a product lineup that is not available elsewhere? Do you offer unbeatable prices for similar products that your competition sells? Are your shipping times and costs lower than others?
Any feature of your business that’s available to the benefit of your customers/clients should be highlighted at every opportunity.
People are always on the lookout for something extra they can get from a business they transact with. Showcasing such a unique feature that’ll benefit them over and above their expectations will increase the chances of conversion significantly.
So make your Unique Selling Proposition/Point as clear and prominent as possible. You can make it the center point of your marketing campaign too if you believe it offers such high value to your business and customers.
2. Go with Traditional Marketing too
Traditional marketing avenues like flyers, hoardings/banners/billboards, newspaper ads, television and radio ads, gift items with your brand name and logo, posters, brochures, cold calls, text messages, letters, and business cards may seem old-fashioned in today’s times, but their impact persists.
Even in the digital age, they provide multiple advantages to businesses, especially small ones, that can at times best their digital contemporaries.
While these options may hit your budget a bit more than digital marketing at times, they are also known to leave a lasting impression. Marketers still swear by corporate gifts like pens, caps, portable device chargers, etc. because they are so effective at branding. 67% of those receiving gifts report that they feel valued by the business, thus improving their relationship with it.
This has created strong demand and has led to a thriving business gifting market that’s growing at a CAGR of 8.1%, with a market cap of $242 Billion in 2021. You can use brochures to make a good first impression on your customers. Even simple ‘Thank You’ cards with messages provided with purchases leave a positive impression that can last long.
Brands have always used carry bags and packaging material as marketing avenues, and you should do the same. This method is very helpful for online sellers since they’re constantly sending out packages everywhere.
A creative hoarding or billboard can pique the curiosity of passers-by and generate enough pull to have them explore your offerings. Catchy radio jingles and TV commercials are just what you need to expand brand visibility quickly.
Make them creative enough while embedding your brand messaging and those ads will be on repeat in people’s minds, increasing brand remembrance immensely.
Want to add a more personal touch to your outreach? Use telemarketing. Cold calling still holds sway as a viable way to attract leads in both B2B and B2C scenarios. It gets you directly in touch with your target audience in real-time without costing much.
You can also go for text message marketing if you want your marketing to be to-the-point and in simple text. Though advances like RCS Messaging for Businesses by Google have blurred the line between messenger and regular texting, allowing for the inclusion of images, short animations, etc.
Leaflets/flyers are the gold standard when it comes to local marketing. Tossing or handing out a few hundred in and around the target locality can spread brand awareness quickly. The brief amount of information contained in the flyers gives prospects what they want to know about you without costing their attention span.
You can distribute brochures too at select locations by putting up dedicated stalls, like in an expo or a local fair. Giving out carry bags with your brand logo at such places also helps a lot.
3. Ride the Influencer Wave
Social media influencers have become an unexpected gift to marketers across industries. They provide the mass audience that marketers seek without having to put in the effort to amass them.
The influencers bring with them their brand value and reputation that you can leverage to grow yours. It is such a successful strategy that the influencer market is slated to hit $16.4 Billion in 2022. All you would need to invest in is the small commission for the influencers and you’re all set to reap the rewards.
Make sure that your choice of influencer matches your brand ethos and goals. Check to see that influencer’s track record to know if they can deliver on your expectations. Also, keep the number of influencers limited.
Plastering yourself across multiple influencer channels only increases your costs. Consider the influencers’ preferred platform to see if it works for your ad strategy.
4. Create a Buyer Persona
Are you targeting the right audience? Find that out by learning as much as you can about your end-user.
Use market surveys and other customer data gathering mechanisms to create a buyer persona. Collect data, study it, and use the insights to unravel the requirements of your intended customer.
The quasi-fictional character you end up with will serve as the blueprint for understanding the market thoroughly and the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. You can evaluate individual prospects for their conversion potential by comparing their data with that of the persona.
This method helps avoid unnecessary expenses incurred due to widespread marketing without a good understanding of the target.
5. Enforce SEO Strictly Across Collateral
Online organic marketing helps businesses rank high in search results. Through this method, you can get excellent visibility and brand value for very low costs. But for that to work, your SEO strategy and its implementation must be on point.
You can start with a fully-fledged website that’s SEO-friendly throughout. It must provide the visitor with an informative and engaging user experience. The layout, theme, variety of content, and the information being disseminated must reflect your brand value and vision in every instance.
It must have the right keywords placed appropriately across pages to get the algorithm’s attention. The images used must be selected likewise and edited to bring out their best qualities in a pleasing manner. Also, maintain the site’s technical SEO aspects, like meta tags and sitemap in line with the algorithm’s preferences.
6. Localize Your Marketing
Whether it’s just the neighborhood around your store or the region of operation, the benefits of localizing your branding can’t be ignored. Having a solid local presence adds value to your brand and gives your small business the stability it needs to expand further.
It also gives your organic online marketing the push it needs in the initial stages of doing business. 46% of all Google searches for products or services seek local information.
Using facilities like Google My Business for online local marketing, combined with some traditional marketing methods is the way to go here. Your content and product offering must be altered to cater to local demands and tastes.
Mixing up the marketing strategies of different regions can backfire, causing severe damage to your brand image. Conducting market research to gain knowledge about these local influences is vital to getting a grip on a particular market.
7. Communicate with Your Customers/Clients
Communication is key to establishing strong relationships in the business world. For ecommerce entrepreneurs, this can be in the form of answering queries about their products and responding to complaints about sold products. You can also use feedback mechanisms like surveys, calls, and emails for the same or social media for establishing good connections.
The wider the respondent’s base covered, the more knowledge you gain about your performance, your customers’/clients’ opinions of your business, and other critical operations. Most of all, you instill trust in your brand in them, building a reputation that precedes it in every new market you venture into.
8. Use Referrals to Network
Word-of-mouth has always been a very potent marketing tool for businesses, with customers/clients spreading positive words about your brand for free. You can take this a step further by offering them incentives to actively refer more people to your business. These incentives may be given in the form of discounts, special add-ons, lucky draw coupons, etc.
When combined with a good service reputation, referrals carry your brand name and image far and wide, expanding exponentially. Other businesses can be used too, wherein you can refer a customer to them for something you’re not offering and vice versa.
9. Keep Your Contact Information Intact
While this measure may not be an upfront aspect of your marketing efforts, it determines its fate. You cannot reach the right person at the right time with the right pitch without correct information about them.
You must ensure that your collected customer/client information is free of errors like missing data. The necessary data management processes should be performed on them to get rid of data issues. It must also be updated regularly so that you won’t accidentally use outdated information.
10. Keep up with the Follow-Ups
Finally, don’t forget about your target audience once you’ve performed the initial marketing requirements. You must constantly follow up your marketing efforts with more content and keep it fresh.
Repeat your current strategy if you find that it’s working well. Otherwise, change it to suit your new requirements. Maintain the engagement levels through every marketing channel as always. Remember, that every repeat customer is a step towards higher ROI.
As a small business looking to make the most out of your marketing efforts, you will need everything you can get to that end at affordable rates. Fortunately, there are many marketing options at your disposal in today’s world that match that criteria.
With professional services like Amazon virtual assistants ready to give you the apt marketing strategy and other kinds of support, you can bring in the conversions you need to grow while minimizing missteps.