Marketing traction – 3 things holding some small businesses back…
May 17, 2019 | Posted in: Articles & News, Marketing pow wow
Changing gears from being an employee for large corporates to self-employed marketeer, helping many smaller businesses, was quite an adjustment for me. Especially in the early days when I was involved with a lot of one-man bands and start-ups – networking groups attract these business owners who are just starting out.
Now that I am mainly working with more sizeable businesses, I can clearly see the traps that new business owners fall into with their marketing. Understanding what those traps are could be an effective way to fast-track your marketing learning curve!
For the benefit of anyone reading this who may be in the early stages of developing their business or been going a while but not aware of the things that might be holding them back…here is a list of the top 3 things I’ve noticed about small business marketing that might be helpful to consider:
1. Not having a full understanding of target audience
Trying to be everything to all people and hedging bets (thinking they would miss out on maximizing revenue) by offering such a diversified product range that it is difficult for consumers to understand ‘what they are all about’. The ‘what they are all about’ could also be called branding and the lack of clarity is called ‘brand confusion’. It is ok for your goods and services not to be liked or popular with everyone!
This confusion amongst various audiences you are reaching out to means that any marketing messages to the ‘true’ audience are watered down with information, offers, tone of voice, visuals that are not relevant to them. It is like speaking to prospective customers in a foreign language they don’t understand. End result – the audience tunes out! If you want real engagement, then your proposition needs to be very clear, very targeted and your marketing needs to be absolutely in tune with the specific audience. This means employing the right channels for that particular audience…which brings me nicely onto the next point…
2. Ticking all the marketing boxes because they feel like they ‘should’
Just like my yoga teachers keep reminding any class participants; “do not make comparisions with the people next to you”, the same advice is applicable in the world of marketing. Just because your friend who is also a business owner has found great success in using Instagram as their primary ‘sharing’ platform doesn’t mean it is right for your business. It totally depends on the nature of their business – obviously if it is highly visual or creative then social media platforms like Instagram or Pinterest are ideal. If you struggle to think of what you could possibly post that would be visual and of interest to your audience, then that’s a good clue that it’s not right for your business.
Likewise, for Facebook – just because it is so commonly talked about in small business gatherings does not mean it has to be ticked off your list, especially if you are not involved in business to consumer marketing. Think about the mindset that your target audience is in when they are using those platforms – are they really going to be thinking about purchasing their office supplies when they are chatting with their friends on Facebook at 8pm at night?
Choose things that make most sense and do them well. Which brings me onto my next point of doing things well…
3. Spreading their marketing too thin
If you are stretched for resources (which a lot of businesses in the growth phase can be), don’t exacerbate the situation by undertaking marketing activities that are not adding value or making a difference to your business. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries with what you are prepared to do – make it realistic…however make it really, really good!
For example, if you are committing to writing an article per month, make sure that you are not just going through the motions. Choose subjects that resonate with your audience, ensure your writing is top quality and leverage content in the best possible ways to get maximum mileage out of your efforts. This could involve proactively contacting industry media to see if they are interested in using the content in their online publications and newsletters etc. This will widen your exposure and build new relationships within the industry.
Working with clients as a 1:1 marketing coach, I find that a lot of time is spent encouraging them to set more realistic and achievable goals so that it does not become overwhelming. It also involves keeping them accountable for their actions in implementing to a marketing plan and calendar – checking in with them, providing prompts and reminders and sometimes lending a hand. Having me help with implementation is not shirking from their responsibilities in this coaching arrangement – they are still involved, however, I am lightening the load – e.g. I draft an article and they edit it to provide subject expertise and authority. I find even providing an outline, framework or process is sometimes all they need as a kick-start. They are able to get some traction with their marketing that they have previously not been able to achieve – simply by chipping away at things and having someone support them along the way, they can transform their planning and ‘best intentions’ into ‘doing’…usually with very pleasing and surprising results!