Marketing is the overall promotional actions that small, mid-sized businesses takes to keep existing clients and get new ones on a regular basis.
In the middle of the busy day you are not probably thinking much about marketing.
However, the seasonal slumps will persist unless marketing is embraced. The greatest loss of income is the income missed due to a small client base that doesn’t keep you busy all year long.
While customer relations is important, marketing is right up there with breathing.
Here Are Some Mistakes to Avoid
1. Not understanding marketing. Marketing is the ongoing process of:
- Research – who is your target audience? What are they interested in? Where do they get business information? How can you reach them?
- Promotion – all forms of online and offline advertising, website, social media, blogging, email and public relations.
- Business development to gain new clients. Larger firms can afford to have one person devote the needed time to concentrate on getting new clients.
- Smaller firms need to involve the team. Even if you have no employees, you need to allocate time each day to work on marketing.
- Pre Internet, I built a practice by taking time each day to meet people or influencers that could refer – using just my business card.
- High quality services delivered on time and in budget that drive referrals and reputation. Paste this on the fridge: MY BUSINESS WILL LIVE, OR DIE BASED ON THE QUALITY AND TIMLY DELIVERY OF MY PRODUCTS OR SERVICES.
- Repeat on a regular basis.
Effective marketing positions your business relative to your competition and drives leads that become prospects and eventually clients – often over an extended period of time.
Then contented clients become a great source of new business referrals – all part of marketing.
2. Not embracing marketing. A big mistake would be pass off “marketing” to the new hire that has a Facebook account from high school. Well done marketing is a team activity – top down.
The principals must be the standard bearer of the firm’s marketing and public relations which includes:
- Understanding that marketing is the tool to grow and maintain a small business in an increasingly competitive market place.
- Invest in the long term. Allocating a budget for marketing. As painful as that might seem, marketing does cost money for both staff time and tools both online and offline. Good marketing should pay for itself.
- Making it a team sport. Almost everyone in the firm can contribute to the firm’s marketing efforts.
- A friendly and helpful receptionist can be a great brand ambassador or on the flip site be an unknown cause of lost business and bad PR (public relations).
3. Your website is not professional. Of course, the worst case is no website at all – that is plain silly in this digital age. Prospects typically will “check you out” by going to your website. Make sure it includes:
- Great design and navigation. It will be a big negative if your site looks old, has bad design, low quality photography or poor navigation. Ensure your about page is not some corporate mumble jumble – make it personal.
- People have the attention span of a gnat – thus they will leave within seconds if you don’t grab their attention.
- No fresh content – adding a blog with useful tips is a great way to interest visitors as well as get better indexing by Google.
- Email sign up – email is still a great tool, but you need people to email to, like a monthly newsletter with helpful tips. Add email enrollment on all pages of your website – even pop ups work well.
- Social media – make it easy for people to follow you.
4. Failing to maintain top quality in your content. Whether you’re writing an article, content for your web page, a blog post, a status update on your social media account or a press release, always ensure the copy is professionally written and error-free.
- If there is no one in the firm with the time and good writing skills, hire a professional writer or a marketing agency.
- Low quality content, grammatical mistakes, misspelled words, typos and even poorly thought out headlines can make you look like an amateur – the exact opposite of the professional image you’re trying to create with your marketing.
- The objective is to establish your firm as experts in your field – you certainly won’t to do that if your content is low quality.
It is far more cost-effective to market your small business effectively the first time.
Hiring professionals for those areas that require a unique skill – design, website development and content creation – can help you successfully market your firm.
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