It may seem tough to market a small business today. Despite being short on time and resources, you have to constantly master new technologies and communication platforms. There is also very little margin for error: one mistake can translate into a time-consuming setback.
To help you avoid the most common – and expensive – marketing pitfalls, Shaz Memon (founder of Digimax and an AWM columnist), has listed 10 mistakes that were especially prevalent in 2015, along with some insights for avoiding them.
Mistake No. 1: You didn’t do any marketing
When it comes to business, overconfidence can be a killer. Some entrepreneurs believe that if they simply have an amazing product / service / store, the world will soon take notice, so active marketing is simply a waste of time.
An estimated 19% of business owners dispense with marketing entirely, citing an overextended workforce and limited budget. But the reality is that marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. Start small by having an informative website and active social media accounts. Then, when the money starts coming in, invest in marketing campaigns if you really want to go big.
Mistake No. 2: You put more work into your social media accounts than into your website
Social media is great when you want to attract new prospects and engage with existing ones, but your Twitter and Facebook accounts are no substitute for your company website. As the saying goes, don’t build your house on rented land.
All your social media efforts should ultimately drive people back to your website. Fortunately, it is no longer expensive or time-consuming to put together an attractive business site.
Mistake No. 3: You’re a me-too business.
There’s nothing wrong with entering a highly competitive field. But if you’re like most business professionals, you don’t just want to survive, you want to thrive.
Think about what aspects of your product or service would inspire, intrigue, and reassure customers. Is one of your employees a renowned expert in the field? Do you let the customer have their order for free if you can’t deliver within a certain time frame? Build your brand a platform and stand tall.
Mistake No. 4: You are oblivious to how your competitors are marketing themselves
Keep tabs on what your competitors are doing. Select three businesses that appear to be doing well and pay close attention to how they market their brand. Any promotion or service that has some longevity is obviously good for the business. Make whatever it is work for you.
Mistake No. 5: You didn’t communicate enough
Social media has made it easy to reach existing and potential customers, but a surprising number of small business owners do not use it to real advantage. They announce new products or fantastic deals, but the conversation is notably one-sided, and these days, customers want dialogue. Encourage them to help you name new products, tell you what services they’d like to see, etc. That is communication 2016 style.
Mistake No. 6: Your site is not mobile-friendly
Nothing says, “I’m not too concerned about your business” like a website that is not configured for your target audience.
In early 2014, the number of mobile internet users exceeded desktop users for the first time, and the numbers have yet to recede. If your business site is not optimised for mobile devices, you’re making a serious marketing mistake. Google also started penalising sites with non-responsive designs in April 2015, so the time to change is now.
Mistake No. 7: Neglecting SEO
Everyone with a business website should understand the importance of correct SEO. Disregarding its guidelines results in subpar search engine rankings and a weak online presence. Fortunately, it’s less of a hassle to master than people think. Start by reading a beginner’s guide to SEO and proceed at a pace you find comfortable. You’ll be surprised how quickly you progress.
Mistake No. 8: Fear of speaking at conferences
A company I work with obtains 80% of its new clients from my speaking engagements at industry conferences. Even if I’d been afraid of public speaking, such rewards would have been a powerful incentive to take a class and acquire confidence.
Everyone is afraid at first. But if speaking in front of crowds really isn’t for you, encourage someone else in your company to assume that responsibility.
Mistake No. 9: You didn’t ask for enough reviews
Nothing impresses potential customers like a well-written and objective peer review can. Yet many small business owners do not ask happy clients to leave reviews on their Google business listing. Don’t make this mistake. To encourage reviews, make it easy for customers to do so. Chances are they’ll be pleased to support you.
Mistake No. 10: You forgot to say thank you
Many businesses take their customers for granted, which is a big mistake. Tools like Google Local Search present consumers with tons of choices, and you should be pleased that your customers chose you. Saying thank you doesn’t cost anything, and it pays off big.
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