By Slawo Gawlowski
Marketing can sometimes prove to be a big challenge for small business owners and managers. That shouldn’t come as a surprise though – they are specialists, after all, but in a completely different field. This is exactly where Versum comes into play. For many years, we have been supporting companies in the area of management and marketing. Amongst others. By deriving insight from our experience and from numerous conversations with companies and clients, we have created a list of the most common marketing errors that small businesses tend to make.
Let this list be used as a small cheat sheet to analyze your own business activities and identify any small business marketing mistakes you may be making. If, after having read it, you can confidently admit that your company is not lacking in a savvy marketing strategy, congratulations! But if you realize that there are areas for improvement, perhaps it’s not too late to make a change?
1. Not knowing enough about your customer and their expectations.
Small businesses (though, even here, this is not always the case) that have a smaller regular customer base are sometimes able to recall previous customer visits and appointments, the customer’s individual preferences or their purchase history. However, this pattern usually does not apply to larger companies or to new customers. But surely, who the customers are and what they expect is the key element for providing exceptional customer service and for planning future business activities – and this is not only narrowed down to marketing.
A company’s lack of knowledge about their customers and misreading their needs can lead to incorrect pricing policies, ill-chosen services, unprofitable marketing campaigns, poor customer service, etc. It’s worth spending some time on conducting a proper initial analysis of visitors and learning more about them (so that the visitors can potentially be converted into customers).
The customer record (preferably an electronic one) should not only include information on the amount spent on a specific product or service and the frequency of orders, but it should also store information on the customer’s preferences and their expectations. This way, a highly valuable database will be rapidly created so that business decisions and marketing campaigns will no longer be a long stab in the dark.
2. Forgetting about a marketing plan, and failing to analyze the situation.
Marketing strategies and campaigns are usually created sporadically and highly irregularly. They are most often initiated when the owner is horrified to see a decline in revenue and it’s then too late to obtain a satisfying campaign result. Promotional events should be planned and prepared well in advance. The plan, in turn, should be created using the company’s available data.
Before you launch a campaign which is aimed to target new customers, it’s important to know what your customer retention rate is. Perhaps it will be more effective to focus on increasing the loyalty of existing customers? By looking at financial reports and analyzing the average amount spent by each customer, you can predict future revenue more accurately and assess which marketing campaigns will be necessary (and to what extent). By having an informed grasp of profit margins on particular products and services, you can create a referral system, a loyalty program or special promotions that will not be costly to implement.
3. A nonfunctional website, or lack thereof.
Small business owners often think, “Why should I have a website when my business is only local?” Nothing could be further from the truth. According to research conducted by the E-Commerce Association (data from 2015), 77% of consumers indicate that the information they see on the Internet prompts them to visit the actual store or point of sale. Other website visitors include satisfied regular customers who want to recommend the business to a friend.
Unfortunately, the lack of a website is not the only problem. Even if the business website already exists, the way the content is presented and the functionality of the site often leave much to be desired. It is often difficult to locate contact details or a price list, not to mention the lack of an online booking option that modern consumers (and the company’s potential customers) consider to be a natural and obligatory element of any website. Additionally, business owners see these elements as an exclusive and futuristic addition.
4. Lack of ongoing communication with the client.
Nowadays the competitive market demands more and more from companies. It’s not enough to just offer a good service — you also need to know how to present it and convince the potential client to make a purchase. Providing professional customer service is also not enough to win a loyal customer. Today’s consumers are well aware of their freedom of choice and they want you to be concerned about them, to remember them, and to encourage them to come back. Waiting passively until the customer decides to return is not the way to gain their loyalty and be in their good books. There are a number of tools and methods that enable systematic and effective communication with clients on various levels – such as SMS and email reminders, email marketing, social media, loyalty programs or even more modern tools like marketing automation.
5. Not taking advantage of the potential of recommendation.
Clients who are considering which service provider to choose often take into consideration friends’ recommendations or online opinions. However, few companies actively motivate their clients to leave feedback. And this is a valuable and unused potential. There are many ways to make leaving feedback look like a piece of cake and encourage the customer to share their positive experience.
It’s worth mentioning here the loyalty programs that reward people using the company’s services for leaving a comment or recommending the business to a friend, or online booking tools and automatic emails requesting the customer to rate their service. It’s also a good idea for positive reviews to be posted on the company’s website or on social media. Why not show off a wide range of satisfied customers? After all, a positive opinion is the most reliable calling card for a company.