Over and over again, small business owners – from startups to seasoned pros – when asked about their biggest business challenge – admit that they struggle when marketing their businesses. Why do companies have so much trouble in this area of their business? I have some ideas on why this occurs, and what business owners can do now to change their fate. Are you making one of these marketing mistakes?
1. You won’t invest in planning: Companies will pay $1500 for a piece of equipment or technology to run their business, but won’t invest the same amount in a marketing plan to guide their marketing and advertising tactics. Operating without a plan is like trying to reach a destination without directions or a GPS: you’re probably going to make a few wrong turns along the way. A marketing plan can help you see and realize your big-picture goals, as well as help you target your advertising and messaging for better results.
2. You’re stuck in the status quo: Has your business been doing things the same way for years and still getting the same result? I often hear, “Well, we get most of our business from referrals, so we don’t need to change things or market ourselves in another way.” Referrals are great, but so are new customers! Are you spending the time or energy to get them? And don’t be afraid to try a new marketing tactic, even if it’s something new or unknown. If it’s targeted to reach your desired audience, and fits within your objectives and budget, it’s something worth considering.
3. You don’t have a marketing team: I see many companies hire multiple salespeople but have no one in charge of the marketing function of the business. This is a mistake, as marketing drives sales leads. I’m sure your salespeople would appreciate it if there was a concentrated effort toward finding and driving new sales leads into the pipeline for them to nurture and close. This makes their jobs that much easier, and can increase the effectiveness of their sales effort. Whether it’s an outsourced or internal resource, you need to have a marketing team (or person) to help coordinate the marketing effort.
4. You haven’t aligned sales and marketing: Even if companies have sales and marketing teams, they often don’t work together to succeed. After all, marketing and sales people are working toward the same goal: increased business. They should be collaborating on an ongoing basis with regular status update meetings, updates on campaigns and insight from the trenches. When sales and marketing teams work together, they can produce more successful marketing campaigns, derived from a greater understanding of the customer.
5. You have no marketing budget: Many small businesses are guilty of operating without a true marketing budget for the year. They have not taken the time to set aside funds for the use of promoting their business, and instead prefer to spend little to no money on marketing/advertising, or may choose to invest in a random campaign or tactic if the idea presents itself (what I call “shotgun marketing”). With no marketing budget, a business risks underspending on marketing and missing their mark, or overspending because no plan exists and still not achieving the desired outcome. Either way is risky business.
So there you have it — five reasons why marketing may be one of the most challenging areas of business success. If you’re making one of these mistakes in your business, the time is now to start turning the ship around. Invest in a plan and then create a marketing budget and team that aligns with your sales efforts and company goals. Then you can begin to watch your success materialize.