In the Art of War, Noise making is a strategy. But, how you make the noise determines whether it’s going to be a winning or losing strategy. In small business marketing know how to create and use noise is inevitable.
In the business world marketing is an art that need to be learnt and improve on a daily basis. Like every other aspect of business, mistakes are inevitable in marketing.
In fact everybody makes mistakes, but some mistakes are more serious than others. Some mistakes are almost deadly – to your marketing, at least.
The following seven mistakes are dreadful enough to make your small business marketing fail. But the good news is once you know them, you can easily spot and avoid them, and your marketing has a dramatically better chance of success.
So keep reading, apply what you learn here, and carry on. You’ve got a business to promote!
1. You’re Under-funding Your Marketing
Some years ago, I was starting a new business; it was a very good idea. I was on a limited budget and decide to use the funding to take care of every other things except marketing which I believe I can do for free using social media and other online free ads channels and hoping the business will fly.
The business never ‘walks’ no matter the time and effort I put into the free marketing.
Though it is possible to do some small business marketing for free, but you’ll almost always pay in time, even if you don’t pay in cash.
So how much money is enough? The Small Business Administration advises that “small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate 7 to 8% of their revenues to marketing,” but not nearly enough businesses are meeting that goal. In fact, 71% of small businesses are investing less than 7% in their marketing, according to our latest research. Forty–two percent of them – nearly half – invest 3% or less, including some who make no investment at all.
We all know the old adage, “It takes money to make money.” This is especially true for small business marketing.
So if you’re under-funding your marketing, don’t be surprised if it’s not working. Despite some talk about guerrilla marketing or the very rare people who can make marketing work with slim to no resources, most of us have to treat it like everything else in our business: We have to fund it properly.
2. You’re Trying To Do It All Yourself
As I have mentioned in my own case above, most entrepreneurs and small business owners tries to do it all by themselves. Even if you have the expertise, as an entrepreneur you will probably have many things that demand your time. So, you will have little or no time to do thing like marketing, public relations to the best taste.
I came across an interesting stat: 54% of small businesses outsource graphic design and website design, but only 14% outsource marketing, public relations, and advertising.
Its fine to do things in–house, if you have an expert in your team or team of experts of course. But if you pair this lack of outsourcing with the lack of funding for marketing as mentioned in the last point, it compounds a serious problem: Marketing doesn’t get enough attention.
The good news is you can outsource many simple marketing functions safely. For instance, you could hire a virtual assistant to set up an email newsletter and send it out every week. Most VA’s are also good writers, so they can write some content for your newsletter, your website, and your social media accounts, too. Many VA’s are also good at paid search engine marketing, simple search engine optimization, and Facebook advertising.
A modest strategic outsourcing might be an excellent way to finally get some small business marketing work done.
3. You Haven’t Learned The Basics Of Modern Marketing
If you know utterly nothing about cars, you’re more likely to buy a lemon. That metaphor reminds me of the process of buying my first car. I know nothing about car then and I can’t even drive one. So, the most important step for me back then is to educate myself about cars.
In his book, Rich Dad Guide To Investing – Robert Kiyosaki introduces the B–I Triangle. He further explains that as an entrepreneur, you need to have a good knowledge of all the integrity of the B–I Triangle. You don’t necessarily have to be an expert in any of the integrity, but to be successful you need to know about every aspect of the B–I Triangle.
Despite the fact that I encourage you to outsource as much of your marketing work as possible, you also need to be a smart buyer – and to be a smart buyer, you need to be familiar with what you’re buying.
You don’t have to be an expert (that’s what we hire people for), but if you’re inexperienced and clueless about marketing, you are most likely going to hire the wrong expert.
Fortunately, the way out of this is pretty straightforward: Get educated. And there are abundance of marketing education resources available today. You can start with top marketing sites, and then read best–selling books on marketing and advertisement. In fact, you can learn all that is required of you freely online.
4. You Aren’t Balancing Consistency And Variety Enough
One of the most effective strategies of small business marketing is content marketing.
According to Content Marketing Institute, only 9% of B2B marketers consider their content marketing efforts to be “very effective.” In other words, all this content production doesn’t seem to be working.
According to Neil Patel consistency is very crucial if content marketing is part of your small business marketing strategy. And, of course, it should be.
To get the best out of content marketing, you need to balance consistency and variety. You need to find a middle ground here; you simply cannot do every marketing tactic that’s out there. But at the same time, marketing is evolving rapidly, and you do need to test new things now and then.
This is why I like the approach Coca–Cola takes with its content: 70% is “low risk, not overly time consuming, and . . . pays the bills;” 20% is “new, innovative, and deeply engaging with specific audiences;” and 10% is “high–risk, high–reward.” While this 70/20/10 model applies to Coca–Cola’s content, it works for small business marketing, too.
Applying This To Small Business Marketing
So how do you apply this approach to your small business marketing? Start by picking two to three marketing tactics that consistently work for you. For example:
- Having a great website
- Sending weekly email newsletters
- Investing in about 10 hours of social media marketing per week
These are your low – risk, “pay – the – bills” marketing bread and butter. Put 70% of your time and money into these projects.
Use the remaining 30% on more experimental things: 20% should go toward things that are a stretch, but a pretty safe stretch (e.g., getting a mobile app made for your business or creating a video series); the remaining 10% should go toward something really experimental (e.g., creating a chat bot for your business, launching a simple loyalty program, or partnering with a complementary, but not competitive, business).
An approach like this keeps your marketing profitable, but not inflexible. Things change, as you know, and so it’s smart to have a range of effective marketing tactics.
5. You Aren’t Doing Any Marketing At All
There is this statement that is fascinating to me; “Good publicity is ‘Good Publicity’, bad publicity is ‘Good publicity’, no publicity is ‘Bad Publicity’.”
There are many ways small businesses set themselves up for failure but the single biggest way to fail in business is to abandon marketing at all. Not too surprising, right? But unbelievably, many small businesses are making this mistake. They aren’t doing any marketing: No digital marketing. No print marketing. Loyalty program, Non. Direct mail, No. No . . . you name it.
Now, I know many owners would tell me that marketing doesn’t work for them. But clearly, they aren’t trying very hard. And marketing doesn’t have to be tough, either. You may well begin by merely making your business down–to–earth easy to discover. Just having a presence on Google My Business and Yelp are ways to begin.
We’ll talk about your website next.
6. Get A Website
It’s hard to believe people like me are still saying this in 2018, but unfortunately, it still needs to be said: Nearly half of all small businesses still don’t have a website. According to a report by WASP “State of Small Business Report,” they found that 44% of small business owners still don’t have a website for their business.
You don’t necessarily have to build a complicated, expensive website for your business. Even a one–page website with your hours, location/s, major products and services is a great start. Add in a section about your employees and your hiring needs if you want, or get even “fancier” and have a contact page.
And if you already have a website, take a look at the following graphic to see how your existing site compares:
7. Separate Your Business And Personal Social Media Accounts
Social media is not something new to small businesses today. Most are already using social media as a channel to promoted the business and expand their clientele but as good as social media is, it can hurt a business very badly when personal account is not separated from business account.
According to a survey of small business owners by allbusiness.com, they found that 37% of small businesses use designated business social media accounts to reach their audience. That’s great for them, but it means that 63% – nearly two thirds – don’t have a designated business account.
You may think of this as just get too organized, but the importance of separating business and personal account on social media cannot be overemphasize. Your customers don’t need to see your comments about a friend’s new baby, and they certainly don’t need to know your reactions to politics. It’s just too easy to fire off a Facebook post, or like a tweet without thinking things through. And it’s Murphy’s Law that just one dumb post could get you far more attention than you ever imagined.
So don’t risk setting against your customers. Create a business account for every social platform you’re active on. It’ll also make selling your business much easier, too.
Wrap It Up!
As I noted in the opening paragraph of this article, that every business owner should learn the Art of Noise Making. It’s as much important to know some of the mistake that can cause your marketing effort to fail. We have discussed seven but there is more, as you go on you’ll discover more and more. I recommend that you look at those seven possible mistakes with a very kin eyes and I believe you are on your way to the top.