As a business owner, marketing your products and/or services is a necessary evil. And yes, I just said that. But, it’s critical to finding new customers, yet also tough to stand out from the competition. And it takes time. So while many people jump straight into the deep end, if you want to save heartache in the long run, take some time now to build a solid marketing plan that maximizes your efforts. With that in mind, here are some common pitfalls I see every day that you’ll want to steer clear of.
1. Don’t Skip Proper Market Research
It’s time to be honest with yourself. Is there a market for your product or service? This is critical. Is there a need within your industry for what you offer? It can be a very specific niche. In fact, don’t be afraid to hyper-focus on a core market, rather than trying to market to everyone. Spend your time wisely.
2. Don’t Forget to Build Your Tribe
When you hear how important it is to build your mailing list, grow your social media, what exactly does that mean? Basically, you should really engage with your client base – especially on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Before you know it, you may have some great conversations and new marketing angles just from really listening to your fans. And make it easy for people to sign up for your mailing list and find your social media profiles right from the main page of your website.
3. Have You Considered Joint Promotions?
Consider building a special event where people come to your storefront, or a “party” that you throw in combination with one or more other business owners. These don’t have to be hard sells either; by making it fun, you’ll get some great leads and referrals both at and as a result of your event. Own a wellness-related company? Bring in a chair masseuse and a healthy food vendor, and throw a great gathering. Own a hardware store? Host a series of DIY classes and/or events and bring in local experts to teach. Not only will your clients come to see you as the ultimate resource, but you’ll get some great referrals from other professionals.
4. Remember that a strong infrastructure is critical
Remember that everything you do is your “resume,” including your website and social media. These days, it’s easy to build a decent looking website on a tight budget without technical know-how. A basic website gives your fans a place to find you and your contact information, as well as updates on what’s new, and any informational blog posts (hint: this is important!). While social media can do this, make sure it’s a platform your target market uses regularly - as I often say, you don’t need to be everywhere, just everywhere that matters.
5. Don’t Forget Reviews!
Reviews matter! Have you ever done a Google search for a business and not opted for them because they only had one review or poor reviews? Encourage your client base to leave you a review on Yelp or Google or even Facebook. This also gives you the opportunity to respond to feedback of any kind. It looks good when the owner is actively involved in client satisfaction.
6. Don’t wait for the “Perfect” Media or Promotional Opportunity
No opportunity is too small! Don’t turn down a single interview opportunity, guest blog post, or podcast interview. In fact, Chicken Soup for the Soul got to be such a huge, household name, because they took advantage of every single interview, regardless of size or hour (sometimes a radio interview at 3am). Mail a product sample. Write the article. Do the interview. Small steps lead to bigger advances and more opportunities. And, if you’re pitching media of any kind, use angles that tie in with the latest news, and be media ready!
7. Remember That Everyone Loves A Sale
A sale doesn’t have to be a blowout event that happens every week, instead it can be a fun, limited time promotion. One idea is a special product bundle or contest each month that is unique to your offerings and that people can’t get anywhere else. Promote your promotion – ask your fans to spread the word. This can be a fun opportunity to build buzz…and additional sales.
8. Remember to Learn New Things!
You don’t have to follow every marketing blog out there – in fact, I recommend you don’t! There’s simply not enough time in the day. Instead, take a look at any national trends or blogs that relate to your industry and use those to stay ahead of your competition.
9. Don’t forget consistency
Whatever your marketing efforts may be, pick a few strategies that work for you and your market and be consistent. Build a marketing calendar and stick to it, but also, don’t forget to re-evaluate your efforts a few times a year – quarterly works for many business models. Always be on the hunt for what’s effective and what’s not and move forward accordingly.
10. Remember You Must Actively Participate in Your Own Success
I can walk into a room of 300 small business owners and pick out the ones who are going to be successful. They are the ones who carry business cards to every event and are eager to learn and engage. They’re curious, and they’re always doing something to build on their success, no matter how small.
Ultimately, your marketing efforts drive your success, and your success is in your control. What does this mean? It means that you don’t have to do everything the way I do, but be active in your own business and find at least a few minutes every day to carry out your marketing plan. While marketing shouldn’t take over your business, time you spend promoting yourself will pay off…just be efficient.
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