‘Why have I not had any orders placed when my new advert was in the press last week?’
This seems to be a question that is asked frequently, and in short, marketing a business isn’t a one-off action. It would be every business owners dream to simply place an advertisement and then sit back and watch the orders come rolling in. But, in reality it takes plenty of time and effort, and in my opinion it’s one of the most important aspects of running a business. So why do so many business owners find it so hard?
My belief is that it all comes down to planning and execution. You need to set out some guidelines on how you plan to market your business and then actually do it – even if it takes more time than you intended. Also, expect to make mistakes along the way, it’s the only way you will learn and develop your marketing experience.
To get you started, I have outlined six common mistakes that business owners should avoid when starting their marketing campaign.
1. No marketing plan
A marketing plan isn’t just for big business, it is just as important for small businesses too. In fact, it’s probably more critical due to tighter budget constraints. So take the time to write down your marketing plan for the next 12 months at least and stick to it!
2. Not knowing your target audience
Do you know who your target audience is for the products/services that you offer?
Defining your target audience will give you a good idea on where to advertise/market your business. Some example questions to ask yourself in order to define your target audience can be:
* Is your product/service suitable for individuals? small businesses? large businesses?
* Can they afford my products/services?
* Where do they look for my product/service? Both online and in physical locations?
* Do they have a business address? Do they work from home?
* How many employees do they have within the company?
* What is their job profile – an executive, manager, worker etc.
3. Who is responsible for you business marketing?
Who in your business is responsible for marketing? For most small businesses it is the owner themselves. If this is the case, are you holding yourself accountable for your marketing efforts?
If you’re not finding the time or it’s not a strong skill for you, then you should consider outsourcing your marketing requirements. It may seem an additional expense but the results will pay for the outsourced services and it will leave you time to concentrate on running your business.
4. No tracking of marketing performance
If you don’t currently measure the results of your marketing campaigns then how will you know whether they were effective or not?
Here are some suggestions for ways to measure your marketing campaigns:
* For online marketing, using unique website pages and track the results from each URL with Google Analytics
* Use unique phone numbers for large campaigns so you can keep tab of the number of incoming calls you receive
* Use specific coupon codes – This is a great way for small businesses as it works for both online campaigns and printed leaflets/vouchers etc.
* Advertising specific offers exclusively via one campaign
5. Inconsistent branding
It’s amazing how many small businesses can get this wrong! Inconsistent branding will dilute your companies impact more than you could ever imagine. Having a strong and consistent business branding really does add to your credibility, especially if you maintain it’s consistency across all areas of your business. This includes your business cards, invoices, letterhead, website, blog pages and all forms of advertising. Along with your coupons, vouchers, flyers, leaflets, posters, press ads, t-shirts, caps, pens, coasters … the list is endless!
One solution is to find an affordable graphic design agency to oversee all aspects of your business marketing and advertising. BlueFlameDesign are such an agency, and are experienced in supporting small businesses with their graphic design, branding and print marketing requirements.
6. Poor spelling and grammar
This is an easily solved problem, but if it’s not done then it can make your business look very unprofessional. Double-check every piece of text and copy before it is sent for any spelling or grammatical errors. This includes invoices, quotes and emails, and would definitely include any advertising such as press ads and direct marketing.