You’ve made a significant investment in starting your business and you hit the ground running.
Perhaps you spent your retirement savings or borrowed money from the bank. You’ve done your research, created a business model, financial plan, acquired equipment, created an inventory or designed a suite of services to offer. Next you got your website online, created social media accounts, printed business cards and any other collateral.
So, your doors are open, but where are all those great new customers knocking down your door for that special thing you offer?
One of the most common myths that small business owners believe is that they can “save money” by doing their own marketing. After all, you know how to send email, post on social media, and today you could even figure out how to get a website online.
Unfortunately, this mindset will end up costing you more than you realize. Having these tools doesn’t mean you have a strategy for how to use them! Let’s be real here! Just because you know how to use a knife or needle and thread, doesn’t mean you are qualified to be a surgeon.
A well-thought out marketing strategy goes hand in hand with your business model and financial plan. Many small business owners are using ineffective marketing practices because they don’t know any better and are simply copying what they think other businesses are doing. We all have different goals and work to differentiate our businesses from our competitors. Since we seek to win out over our competitors, it is unreasonable to think this cookie-cutter approach would be the answer.
Many small business owners experience frustration and burnout shortly after opening their doors for business. They’re spending sleepless nights asking themselves “What can I do to get more customers?” This is a reactive approach. Much of their stress would have been avoided by taking the time to make the cost effective investment with someone skilled at guiding businesses in developing an effective marketing strategy.
Four of the most common mistakes many business owners make that set their business on a downward spiral path is:
- Not keeping your website up to date.
- Discounting your products or services to try and get new customers.
- Creating weak or inconsistent marketing messages that are more confusing to your targeted audience and are less effective.
- Not updating or segmenting your marketing database between those who are prospects and those who have become clients.
You have a website, now what? A website is the largest marketing asset your business owns and many times is the most underutilized asset. Not keeping your website up to date and current is like throwing money in a barrel and lighting a match. It is an investment in your business. There are many people on the Internet searching for what you have to offer, judging you on your appearance. Yes, we all judge, it is our in our nature. If your site looks out of date, that implies you probably run your business the same way. Let’s face it. People are searching for the “best” of what they are looking for. It is a tool, use it wisely.
Should you offer discounts? In short, no! Discounting can be perceived as cheap stuff. Leave that to the discount stores. Avoid using the term “discount” if possible. It can bring on a negative message that devalues your products and or services. What you have is of value to that customer, unless you actually do offer “cheap” stuff then it applies.
Is less really more when it comes to content about my brand? In most cases, yes! Too much information can overload your potential customer. Let’s face it. They are online searching for what they need, they don’t need to read an entire book on how great you think you are. You can not be everything to everyone. Solving their problem is the only thing they really care about. Get back to the basics of who, what, when, where and why for your ideal target customer. Be direct and to the point in your communications. Consistent messaging is key on your website, emails, social media and face to face.
Why is keeping your email database important? Your existing customers can be insulted that you don’t recognize them as a loyal customer and you start to lose credibility with them. At this point you have two targeted audiences – prospects for capturing new business and existing customers for repeat business.
One major part of a strategic marketing plan is mapping out your communication plan to set your business apart from competitors. Below are four important tips to creating an effective content strategy for your target audience:
You can spend countless hours that cost you trying to figure it out on your own; or, you can seek guidance and support from someone who is experienced to get your business to the next level. Waiting until you’re at the end of your rope is NOT an option. Being reactive is more costly in the long run, than being proactive and doing it right the first time.
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