Unlike their large, well-funded counterparts, small business owners are often working on a tight budget and with a strict deadline. In order to maximize the efficiency of that budget, it is important that you have a clear vision of who your customers are and how you will reach them.
Last week we talked about on-page SEO for small business owners and the benefits of building a solid foundation. Today we are going to look at some common mistakes that could spell disaster for your small business if left unchecked.
1. Failing to Research Your Industry and Customers
You have spent months coming up with an idea so great that you can't believe someone hasn't thought of it before. After spending nearly all of your savings to get a working model ready to pitch, you realize that you missed one small detail that makes your product obsolete or you find out there isn't a need for it after all.
Marketing is all about creating the need for a product but as a small business, you aren't likely to have the capital required to build the need. For that reason, it is critical that you take the time to research your industry before spending money on developing a product or service. You should at minimum seek to find the estimated size of the market, the average price points, estimated expenses and budget needed to break into the market.
After collecting that information, you need to run your numbers and see if it is likely you can sell your product or service for a price high enough to cover your costs and generate profit.
In many cases, your idea won't go beyond this point. If it does though, your next step is to figure out how you will deliver your brand to potential customers. In order to create an effective message, you will need to define your target audience, arguably the most important step in the whole process.
2. Poorly Defined Message to Potential Consumers
If you do not take the time to clearly identify who your target audience is, you will have a tough time creating a message that appeals to them. While this seems like common sense, many times the desire to use generic messaging that could appeal to a larger group leads to unclear messaging. This in turn leads to a poor response. If you are in a business that targets multiple groups of potential consumers, you simply need to define a unique message for each group.
A clear marketing message should do the following:
- Identify who the message is directed to.
- Touch on the pain points and needs of your target group.
- Highlight benefits of your product or service specific to the groups needs and wants.
- Build trust with prospects through the use of testimonials, case studies and results proof.
- Provide them with clear direction of what to do next and what happens when they take said action.
Using those main ingredients, you will be able to craft a solid message to each group that you do decide to target.
3. Inconsistent and Segmented Marketing Tactics
Your job as a small business owner or person marketing one is to create a consistent brand presence. Many companies (large and small) still work with segmented marketing initiatives. Search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC), TV, print and radio messaging should all deliver a consistent message, with a consistent brand identity.
If you are using multiple marketing channels, you should make sure that the reps selling you marketing on each are aware of the exact audience you have defined and what message is most important to them. Encourage each group or employee to collaborate on marketing initiatives so that your messages align more closely.
Aside from the messaging, your brand identity kit should define colors, fonts, and guidelines to be followed on each medium so that you are building brand recognition from your marketing while generating new leads and customers.
Even if you are a very small company and not interested in "branding" something as simple as style guidelines can give your business a much more professional appearance, which can lead to new (and bigger) customers.
4. Analysis Paralysis
Throughout history there have been countless entrepreneurs who have created large brands and incredible profits without completing market research, spending days on a solid message, or even having a nice business card to hand out. While those companies are the exception, they do make one thing very clear: taking massive action can lead to great success. As a small business owner on a tight budget it can be easy to begin overanalyzing each and every possibility which leads to inaction. As Babe Ruth once said "don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game".
If you are in that cycle now, you need to break it immediately and even if your make a mistake, you are one step closer to success than you were before.
About the Author
Travis Bliffen is the founder of Stellar SEO, a Web design and marketing firm located in Spring Hill, TN. Travis and his team are equipped to handle any size SEO project and have helped numerous businesses to date build a rock solid online presence. When you are ready for more leads and sales, it is time to get #stellarized. Connect on Facebook or Twitter @theseoproz.