Attention busy small business owners! I have some important questions for you!
How’s your marketing working out for you?
Is it helping you attract profitable clients on a consistent basis?
Is it helping you retain those few good clients you have?
I know, it will be hard for you to admit the truth.
Or you could give me a list of all the reasons why your marketing may not be working as you want. I understand… I’ve been in your shoes many times! Trust me, I know!
Let’s name just a few of your possible reasons: “I’m too busy, I have no time”, “I have no money”, “I don’t know how to do it”, “my wife or husband is helping me with the marketing”, “I send flyers every once in a while”, “I get my clients through word of mouth”, “hiring a marketing consultant is too expensive”, etc.
I know how you feel; yet my goal for this article is NOT telling you what you’re doing wrong but to help you acknowledge those things and create a plan of action to grow your business faster.
Be aware, this is not a magic pill… it’s a process that will take time and effort.
However, it’s all well worth it for your well-being and the success of your business.
As a business owner, you have tons of responsibilities to take care of. But marketing and sales should be your number one priority.
In fact, that’s the real business you’re in! Believe it or not, you’re in marketing and sales. You may not want to hear this because you hate selling, but it’s the hard core truth.
Can you admit you have a marketing problem? If the answer is yes, that’s great! Don’t feel bad, most businesses have.
Stay with me through the following list, and I promise I’ll give each of your problems a solution.
Here are the 25 reasons why you must stop marketing your small business the way you’re doing it right now and what to do instead.
- You don’t know your target market (customers) well
You may have an idea based on previous clients about who your ideal client is. But, in order to be able to attract profitable clients in a consistent manner, you need to have a deep understanding of their problems, needs and wants.
You then need to create solutions to meet those needs. This is marketing 101. You start with “Who”. Who are you trying to help?
You need to become a doctor. This may sound cheesy, but first you must find out what their problems are based on the symptoms they’ve shared with you. You then prescribe them the medicine (or the solution) that you provide.
There are tons of questions you can ask to find more about your specific target, but here are some of the most important ones:
How old are they? Where do they live? What’s their income? What problems/pains do they currently face? What are their interests? What are their goals and what motivates them in life?
You need to put yourself in their shoes and go beyond the basics.
Once you have this understanding, marketing to your target audience becomes easy and more effective.
- You’re using the wrong media
Media is how you deliver your marketing. Some of the most commonly used media by small business owners include: newspaper, billboards, magazines, flyers, yellow pages, radio, Valpak, and other print publications, while some are using online media as well.
Those are great media to use, don’t get me wrong, but the question is: are you getting equally great results? Are you able to track your ROI (Return on Investment)? Can you say that for every dollar you spend, you’re getting five dollars back? Are you sure that your target audience is seeing your ads?
You must take the time to research your target audience and find out what media they’re consuming the most. Find out what they’re reading and place your ad there!
- You’re marketing to the wrong audience
Hopefully, at this point you have already taken some notes from my previous topic about knowing your target market. Let’s keep in mind that your target market does not necessarily consist of your previous clients.
You may want to get better and more profitable clients. Therefore, find out who they are and place your ads where they can see them.
- Your marketing message is plain and boring
Do you even have a message? Or your marketing materials are a list of services, a phone number, an address and a “call us today” message? If so, we absolutely need to improve that. You want to use the kind of messages that your ideal client cannot resist.
You want to create offers that make them drop whatever they’re doing now and run to their phones to call you. Or go to their computers and find out more about your business. Imagine customers who can’t wait to do business with you!
This is not an easy task. I know. We’re so used to doing just the basics or what everybody else is doing. But we need to change that starting now. From now on, you’ll craft creative ads, add your brand personality to them and even make them fun. People love a good laugh. Give this to them and you’ll earn new customers.
- You’re not doing marketing automation
Let me first give you an example of marketing automation, so that we can be on the same page. Let’s use email marketing as an example. Most email service providers (Mailchimp, Constant Contact, aWeber, etc.) have an automated email feature.
This allows you to create a set of messages that will be sent out to your prospects or clients automatically at a pre-defined date. Usually, you start sending these messages once people signup to your list or you add them to your list manually.
This is a very powerful tool! It may sound complex, but it’s really not. It’s a great way for you to build trust and educate your prospects (or current clients) about your services.
And you know what they say… People like doing business with people they know, like and trust!
You don’t necessarily want to use these email messages for selling, but rather to educate your prospects and help them make an intelligent decision. And since you’re helping them do this, they’re more likely to choose you!
The main takeaway from this point is that you need to start using these automated tools and let them do the marketing for you. This will help you save time and money.
- You’re promoting offline only
Special announcement: it’s 2015! It’s time to go beyond your local newspaper or magazine. In order to develop a consistent marketing system that allows you to get large amounts of profitable clients, you need a combination of offline and online media.
You may feel overwhelmed with the number of options you have when promoting your business online. But you need to choose at least one, that works for your business and that is affordable. Then, you need to combine your offline efforts with your online strategy.
For example, you can have an ad in your local newspaper, with a link (or URL) to an online offer. You can use this to do lead generation and attract people that may not be ready to buy your products or services now.
- You’re not active on social media
Whether we like it or not, social media has drastically changed the way we communicate not only with our family members, but also with our clients. You can’t afford not being active on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
I’m willing to bet that the majority of your clients are visiting these social sites on a daily basis.
Being active on social media allows you to attract new clients, which means more profit for your business. It also enables you to connect with your existing clients and keep them coming back to you to buy your products or services.
Another great benefit of being active on social media is that you get to listen to what your customers are talking about. It may sound creepy or like you’re spying on them, but you can easily find out what their problems and needs are. This provides you with a tremendous amount of valuable information that you can utilize in your marketing materials.
- You’re not connecting with your audience on Twitter
Having a consistent flow of customers depends on how you’re connecting to your prospects and how you’re maintaining your relationship with them. Nowadays, thanks to social media, more specifically to Twitter, you can stay connected all the time and share information with your clients.
You can share quick tips, product or service updates, company announcements, special deals, etc. This is yet another powerful marketing tool that you have at your disposal and best of all it’s for free! Well, it’s not really free because you need to allocate time for it, and as we know time is money… but you know what I mean!
- You’re not using LinkedIn for lead generation
If you provide products and services to the business-to-business sector (B2B), then you can’t ignore the power of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing professional network sites with almost 400 million users at this time. What I like the most about LinkedIn is that you have direct access to decision makers such as company CEOs, Presidents, and owners. This is a tremendous opportunity.
You need to use LinkedIn the right way and what I mean by the right way is that you should build relationships. Do not expect to login every once in a while and get leads and sales from it. You need to visit the site on a regular basis, share valuable and useful information, and connect with leaders in your industry.
If you’re new to LinkedIn, I’d recommend you to visit the site, start following some of the leaders in your industry and learn from them. Find out what type of content (articles, photos, videos, etc.), they’re sharing and post comments to their updates. This will help you build a relationship and then you can introduce your services or products in a more natural way.
- You don’t have a referral system in place
Do you have a referral system? I’m sure you’ve thought about this at some point in time. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you got most of your clients through referrals. This is usually the case with most small business owners (including myself!). This is actually good. It means that you provide good service and people are willing to refer you to their families and friends.
Now, we need to take this to the next level. A referral system will allow you to attract more clients by rewarding people that refer your business to new clients. If people are willing to promote your business without being rewarded, imagine how much they will be willing to do it if they get rewarded.
This is a powerful tool when used correctly. A few business owners I know have actually grown their business by implementing a good referral system.
- You have wrong information in your online business listings
Online business directories have become the new yellow pages. These are directories where people go to find a business. For instance, some of the most popular directories include: Yelp, CitySearch, YellowPages.com, Google Local, Yahoo Local, Bing Places, Manta, Angie’s List, Facebook Pages, Foursquare, Local.com, SuperMedia, MerchantCircle, and more. There are thousands of such directories and some are specific to particular industries.
Now, if you’ve been in business for some time, chances are that you’re already listed. However, the question is how accurate your business information listed on these directories is. You need to find out what phone number, address, website or services they have listed. If they have the wrong information, you will need to claim your listing and submit the correct information.
This can be a tedious task, but there are online services you can use to get help with this.
- Your website looks like a static brochure
If you own a website (by the way, if you don’t, you need to get one right now!) when was the last time you updated the content? Keeping your website content up-to-date will determine your customers to come back and find out what you’re up to. This helps you retain more customers and also attract new ones.
However, this is difficult to accomplish when you have an old-school website, which looks more than a decade old and doesn’t provide the right structure for adding fresh information.
- You don’t have a clue about SEO
Ok, maybe you’ve heard about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) before. Some strange company or business has probably called selling you SEO services. If you have a website, then you need to find someone who really knows how to do SEO for your website. SEO can improve your visibility with search engines (primarily Google, Bing and Yahoo). If setup correctly, it can help you get found when people are looking for your services or products online.
- You’re not using video in your marketing
Video has become one of the most effective ways to promote your services online. In fact, when you upload a video to YouTube (by the way, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world) you have more chances of showing up in Google’s first page results for your keywords; it also improves your SEO.
Additionally, people may not have enough time to read about your services, but they’re more open to watching a quick 60 seconds video. You can successfully use videos for sales and lead generation.
- You have no online reviews
Online reviews are the online word of mouth. A large number of people make purchasing decisions based on online reviews. This is why you want to make sure you have good reviews. And if you have bad reviews, you need to address them and do whatever is under your control to fix this.
- You’re not using email marketing to retain customers or attract new ones
This goes back to marketing automation. When used correctly email marketing can be a powerful tool for generating new leads and retaining existing clients. The key here is to start collecting emails (if you haven’t started yet).
Just to give you an idea, based on recent years’ stats, for every dollar you spend on email marketing, you get forty dollars back. That’s an amazing ROI (Return On Investment)!
- Press releases are not part of your marketing to-do list
You may be a little skeptical about press releases or think that this tactic is only used by big companies. You’re not alone; I thought the same thing until recent years. However, press releases can help you accelerate your business growth by creating awareness in your local community and/or at a national level. There are online services available that allow you to submit your press releases to hundreds of publications at an affordable price. It’s cheaper than you think.
I recommend you to write a press release about your products (or services) and submit it to local publications.
- You’re not creating content worth sharing
Do you want your business to go viral online? Then you need to write content that lots of people are willing to share. It sounds simple, but it’s not. You first need to find out what your target market interests are (and this goes back to our previous point about knowing your target audience).
Tip: You can also use current events and somehow relate them to your products and services – this tactic is called newsjacking.
- Your marketing strategy is seasonal
Just like the previous point, this is critical. Most business owners (including me and you) tend to do marketing during a certain period of the year. This is totally wrong!
For instance, if you’re a tax preparer, you probably decide to spend all your advertising dollars during tax season. Yes, you do need to advertise during tax season but what about the rest of the year? Sure, some offices may actually be closed, but what about those that are opened year-round?
Think about this… what if your competitor is quietly promoting throughout the year to your potential customers or target market? Do you think you have a chance to attract those customers? Nope! Not a chance!
You need to have a year-round marketing system in place. I know you may have a limited budget, but you need to allocate the necessary funds. In fact, it’s often recommended to spend 10-15% of your yearly revenue in marketing. Furthermore, you can spend 50% of this for a year-round promotion and the remaining during tax season.
Pro Tip: you need to have at least 7 touch points (or contacts) with a prospect for him or her to become your client. In other words, they need to see your advertisement at least 7 times before they take notice of you and want to do business with you.
- You’re not utilizing direct response marketing
Let’s quickly define direct response marketing so we get on the same page. Direct response marketing is designed to evoke an immediate response and compel prospects to take specific action, such as subscribing to your email list, picking up the phone and calling for more information or placing an order through your website (via SuccessWise.com).
Examples of direct response marketing are: phone calls, email marketing, online ads and sending postcards through regular mail.
The main advantages of using this type of marketing are: being trackable and measureable, targeting a specific audience, making a specific offer, and demanding an action. And it works really well when you do it in a series or you send the same offer multiple times to the same target audience.
- You have never sent a “Thank you” postcard to your clients
Have you ever sent out a “Thank You” card to any of your clients? Once maybe? Ok, if you have a thousand clients, sending out a postcard may not sound like a good idea. However, it’s been said many times that retaining an existing client is less expensive than attracting a new one.
Showing your existing clients appreciation can help you increase loyalty levels. It can also help you sell more to those clients, as they will be more open to your offers.
Pro Marketer Tip: This is not a magic trick or anything like that; however you can maximize the use or investment of your “thank you” card by including a special offer.
- You’re not running Facebook contests or boosting posts
This goes back to my social media point. You can boost or spend a small amount of money to promote your small business on Facebook. You may be surprised by how many people will see your ad and take action, even with a small budget.
- PPC is not near your radar
Pay-per-Click (PPC) advertising is another great tool to promote your business. You’ve probably tried it in the past and may think it doesn’t really work. However, when setup correctly, PPC can get you lots of clicks or visits to your website.
Besides Google AdWords, which is one of the most popular PPC platforms, you now have Facebook PPC. Facebook works really well because you can be more specific as to whom you want your ads to be show. With Facebook, you have more targeting options and this makes your ads more effective.
- You’re not tracking your marketing results
Are you tracking your results? Can you tell how many people have become clients as a result of your last flyer campaign? Chances are you can’t. If you do know the answer though, congratulations, you’re one of the few that actually do.
Tracking your results allows you to make informed and smart decisions when it comes to planning and implementing your marketing campaigns. It helps you determine whether it makes sense or not to promote your business on a particular media. You will thus make decisions based on previous results.
- You don’t have a marketing system
Last, but not least, and probably the most important of all, you need to have a marketing system. Luckily, I wrote an entire article on the subject (click here to read it). A marketing system gives you peace of mind and allows you to grow your business faster than you ever thought of.
A marketing system is a reliable, predictable and affordable way to promote your business and generate more leads and clients.
If you read my article mentioned above, you’ll learn that in order to have such a system in place, you need to take in consideration five elements: a target market, appropriate media, compelling message, an “irresistible offer” and an easy way for your clients to respond.
I’m not going to cover these points again since we’ve gone through most of them throughout this article.
Don’t waste any more time and put your marketing system in place!
If you’re still reading, now you just have made it to the end!
Congrats! I know I covered a lot here, but I hope I have achieved my goal, which was to let you know how to market your business the right way.
You can now stop wasting money and time, and focus on growing your business. If I did my job right, you now have 25 ways to promote your business effectively.
Let’s not end this conversation here! I’d love to know about your progress after you implement some of the ideas covered here.
Connect with me or send me a message. I’m also open for questions. Until next time!
Wishing you all the success in your marketing efforts!