How To Overcome ‘The Marketing Problem’
Over the past ten years, I have met many businesses in a huge variety of different industries from hairdressers to engineers working with cutting edge technology, from retailers to wholesalers, from tradespeople to professionals, manufacturers and service businesses.
In these companies I have met and talked with everyone from the business owners, to sales people, receptionists, accountants and managers.
You see, most businesses are superb at what they do – they are usually experts in their trades or professions, and know their marketplaces inside out. Most work extremely hard – often 10, 12 hours a day and more - to keep their customers happy, and they pride themselves in doing a great job and in providing quality products or services at reasonable prices.
However, most lack the capabilities to market, promote and sell their products and services to customers; they have trained for years in their trades or professions but received little or no formal training in marketing. This makes them understandably cautious when it comes to marketing decisions, and often means their companies are under-promoted, their companies remain ‘undiscovered gems’ and they get frustrated at seeing customers buying in their droves from bigger, more proactive companies who provide inferior products or services.
Here are the top 5 problems I see with business owners:
1) Over-reliance on repeat customers
Many small businesses rely on their repeat customers who continue to choose their business. However this strategy may be a problem if you were unfortunate to lose one of these customers. Who would you then replace them with? I have seen many businesses who have become complacent, only to lose 20, 30% of their business (or more) almost overnight. This can cause big cash flow challenges, putting them in a classic downward spiral where they can’t afford the time or money needed to invest in the marketing they need to attract new customers to fill the void.
2) Not adapting to change
Many small businesses continue to use the same strategies they have been using for years; however it is also important to develop and implement new strategies. 10 years ago marketing conversations would have centred on print media – brochures, newspaper advertising, trade magazines, direct mail, flyers, etc. Now, the internet has become the place modern buyers go to find, discover and research any potential purchases or business suppliers.
In 2014 business owners with limited resources need to invest in what works: online marketing.
3) Not knowing where to start
Many business owners do not know where to start when it comes to marketing. They are unsure of how a marketing plan can be developed to help encourage new customers and enquiries for their business. This is especially true of online marketing, where the options are endless and can be confusing: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), online advertising (including Google Adwords), social media marketing, mobile marketing, video marketing, blogging and more.
4) Lack of Time
Many business struggle to fully integrate marketing into their business due to a lack of time. Many small businesses owners are ‘hands on’ – they are on the road themselves trying to gain further sales, solving customer problems, training staff or doing paperwork. Therefore they are looking for guidance and support from someone who can spend the time to help their business with the marketing. This is where a good Digital Marketing Agency like JDR can help you. We will be able to answer any questions you may be facing at any stage and will provide you with measured results of your marketing promotions.
5) Lack of Resources
Many small businesses are faced with a tight financial budget meaning that it may be difficult to invest in promotional marketing. However marketing does not have to be a heavy investment as for most marketing methods you can choose a budget which is suitable for your business. The key is to use your resources in the most effective way possible – when I discuss online marketing with business people, this is often how I spend most of my time. The question is ‘what can we do that will give you the biggest possible return on investment?’
And that’s where this checklist comes in.
If you lack financial resources or time, it can help you identify where you need help most. If you are unsure where to start, or have been slow to adapt to online marketing, it will help you understand what is necessary to give you the results you want.
You have to start improving your marketing in order to compete in a fast changing world – and you have to start somewhere. This will help you work out what that starting point is.
I use it personally as a tool to assess a business’s online marketing activities, so I know how useful it is. And you can download it here for free!
Article by Andrew Leamon