By Debra Ward, Marketing Consultant, Dream Weaver Marketing
Starting a new business is fun, but it takes careful planning to do it right. Even if you’ve been in business for several years, you may find this information useful. As a marketing consultant, I’ve been able to backtrack and fix some of the foundation issues for small businesses in order to help them grow. Many say they had wished they had called me sooner. My goal with this article is to help shed light on some of the most common mistakes I’ve seen over my 20-year career helping small business owners, and help advise small businesses on how they can avoid them.
The good news is that small business failure has decreased in 2016 according to Entrepreneur. It claims some of the reasons are smarter small business owners and better business-management technology. What smart business owners have learned include:
- Write a marketing plan. A marketing plan includes research so you can devise an effective plan of action. Most people write a business plan but forget to include important marketing research and strategies, such as:
- Research your competition. Know who your competitors are. This will help you better position your company as far as what makes you unique and how to price your products. This includes developing your USP, your unique selling proposition. What sets you apart from the competitors is one of the keys to your success. It allows your potential customers to see why your product is better.
- Research your target audience. Who is most likely to purchase your product? Look into market segmentation, and develop different content for different segments. This will help you better understand your customers so you can target them in your marketing more effectively.
- Set goals, objectives, and strategies. How will you attract your buyers? Your strategies may include direct mail, email, public relations, social media, content strategy, couponing, webinars, events, blogs, partnerships, and other activities that will help attract and maintain customers. An open house or “launch” event is a good start; include press releases and news stories.
- Set up your social media. This plays an important role too, so add it to your marketing strategies in your plan. Get your name on the Internet in as many places as you can imagine. Use different content, upload photos, and use the same mailing address, URL, and phone number, because search engines will reward you for being consistent. Join LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social media channels. Provide them with value! Don’t just sell to them. Give them something they find valuable.
- Develop a monthly marketing budget. Test different strategies to see what’s working. If something isn’t working, stop and try another strategy. Stay in budget. Research what your competitors are doing. Get new ideas.
- Track your progress. Make sure you have the Google Analytics code on every page of your website so you can track to see which pages are getting the most attention. Track your growth. Improve where you’re lacking.
- Set up an Internet business.
- Set up an online presence.
- Utilize software.
According to Forbes, some of the main reasons so many small businesses fail is their inability to plan, no differentiation (USP), lack of leadership, ignoring customer needs, the inability to learn from failure, and lack of capital.
Know your audience, know your SEO, know the importance in social media, and do a marketing plan. With proper planning and knowing what some of the key issues are, you can grow and achieve extraordinary results. Know what questions to ask the people you employ to help you. And most of all, become your customer. Search the Internet for the products you offer, and find out where you stand once you’re up and running. Set your plan, make your goals, test your success, and move forward with what IS working. Get rid of what’s not working.
I hope this information helps you to increase your website visits, and in turn, helps you sell more products and grow your business. Happy marketing!
Read Debra’s full article at blog.nsbdc.org.