Ten Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Make
How do you judge the effectiveness of your small business marketing
efforts? Easy...does it produce results? Great looking ads, fancy logos and
flashy web sites are worthless if they don't bring business to your door.
This list of 10 common marketing mistakes can help you produce better
1. Not Having a Clearly Defined USP.
Do you want to fit in or stand out? In order to thrive in today's cluttered marketplace, every business owner must be able to clearly articulate an answer to the question,
"Why should someone do business with you rather than your competitor? What makes you unique?" Your answer to these questions constitutes your Unique Selling Proposition. Do you offer
24-hour, 7 day a week service? Do you offer the lowest price? Do you offer
a no risk guarantee? A strong USP helps you to stand out in a crowded
2. Selling Features Rather than Benefits.
Someone once said, "No one ever bought a drill bit. Millions of people have bought a hole" People don't buy features, they buy benefits. They are tuned
into Radio Station W.I.I.F.M. (What's in it for me?) Tell them clearly how
the features of your product/service will help them, make their life
3. Not using headlines in print advertisements.
You have at most a couple of seconds to grab someone's attention when they
read a newspaper, magazine etc. Using an attention-grabbing headline
ensures that the reader will continue to read the rest of the
advertisement. The headline is an ad for the ad. Take a look at some
newspaper ads. Which ones attract your attention? You will probably find
they have utilized an effective headline.
4. Not testing headlines, price points, packages, pitches, everything.
How do you know what ad, what price, what offer most appeals to customers?
By putting them to a vote. Test everything. Rather than running one
newspaper ad for three weeks, why not run three different ads for three
weeks and measure which draws better? Rather than putting all your
advertising into newspaper, why not split between newspaper and direct mail
and measure the results? Why not price your products/services at different
points and see which sells more? Is cheaper always better? Not necessarily.
Each situation is unique. One price may outperform another for a myriad of
reasons. Your job is not to know why, but to find what works. Test, test,
5. Making it difficult to do business with you.
Are your sales staff knowledgeable about your products? Does someone answer
your phone promptly and in a friendly manner? Can people find your phone
number, location? Can customers find things easily in your store? Put
yourselves in your customer's shoes. Don't make them work-they won't. I've
seen a web site that undoubtedly cost the company thousands of dollars and
NOWHERE could I find a phone number or email address. Your customer has
better things to do than struggle to do business with you.
6. Not finding out what your customer's needs are.
What is the first step in filling your customer's needs? Discovering what
they are. What's most important to them? Don't even try to guess. You may
think price is most important when what they really want is fast service.
You may believe fast service is what they want when what they desperately
want is a friendly, personal touch. How do you find out? People won't tell
you unless you ask. So ask.
7. Not maintaining an up to date customer database.
Your customer list is pure gold. Rather than always working to bring new
customers in the door, why not take advantage of the good will you have
already built with your existing clientele? Experiment with extending
special offers to your customer base. Ask for referrals. Send them a card
on their birthday. Call and ask what they most enjoyed about doing business
with you (or what they disliked doing business with you). You worked hard
to develop these relationships. Recognize their value and work hard to
8. Not eliminating the risk.
What stops a customer from buying from you? Are they unsure that your offer
is worth their hard-earned money? Make it easy to decide to buy from you.
How can you reduce their risk? If you are in a service business, let them
try your service at no cost. If you are a lawyer or consultant offer them a
free consultation. Offer them a money back, no questions asked guarantee on
any product they buy. Why not? Are you afraid people will take advantage of
you? Give it a try for a month. You may be very pleasantly surprised. Not
confident in your product or service? Then go to work on improving your
9. Not educating your customers
Don't just claim that your service is better. Explain why. Are your staff
better trained? Do you utilize a technology that increases service
turnaround or quality? Don't expect people to just take your word for
things. Quality, Service and Value mean nothing. Everyone claims to offer
these. Make these claims real for the customer by offering credible
explanations why they should do business with you.
10. Not knowing what works, and sticking with it.
Do you know which ads are effective? What media pulls best? What offer gets
the best reaction? By testing (see above) you will. When you find something
that works, don't change it until you find something that works better.
Just because you're sick of an ad/offer isn't a good enough reason to
change it. You can supplement with other ads and offers. If it works, keep
*Article by Meir Liraz of BizMove.com (http://www.bizmove.com/?new), a
comprehensive free resource of small business information featuring free
guides, strategies and tools.
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