There is a right way ……
…….. and a wrong way!
Marketing your business doesn’t need to be difficult, expensive or time consuming. Get creative, avoid these common marketing mistakes, and help your business achieve more traffic, more clients and ultimately, more money!
The first step to failure is by not being clear on a long-term strategy. Far too many companies advertise only every now and then, and portray mixed messages. It’s vital to have a consistent and clear advertising strategy as rarely is action taken the first time a potential customer hears something being advertised.
Advertising Only When The Need For Customers Arises
Start-ups and small businesses regularly fall into the trap of only advertising when customers are needed. This is a big mistake given that there is a time delay between potential customers taking action following an advertising campaign. Advertising should be continuous and should capitalise on good times when periods of high sales reflect high levels of advertising.
Running An Advert Once
So often we hear business owners say ‘we ran an ad in that edition once and it did nothing. I’m definitely not doing that again.’ Perhaps the ad didn’t work because it was the wrong place to advertise, but more likely it was because the company never gave the ad a chance to work. In B2B marketing the recommendation is that an advertisement must run 3 to 7 times before it has an effect. By not repeating an advert you will always struggle to get anywhere near a decent response.
Imitating The Competition
Don’t think that just because your competitors are advertising in a particular magazine or publication that they know what they are doing or that it is having success. Try to be a leader, not a follower – there is every chance that advertising elsewhere will be more effective.
There are of course, exceptions to this. If a competitor is receiving a lot of press coverage you will want to analyse the reasons with the intention of improving your own PR activities. You might also analyse the advertising of a rival business with a higher ‘pay per click’ ad position and take aspects of their strategy to use in your own ‘pay per click’ advertising. In short, choose and pick carefully the strategies you copy from competitors.
Not Promoting Your USP (Unique Selling Point )
From the very beginning, select the one message or point (USP) that sets your business or product aside from all your competitors and continue to repeat this message over and over. Small businesses, particularly, seem to change the message given out through their advertising all the time. There is a tendency for small businesses to run an advert, and when they fail to get a response they hoped for, they re-jig the message, and alter the look and feel of their advertising next time round. In doing this the USP is lost and there’s no consistency in the message being given.
No Follow Through
Owners of small business owners usually have very little spare time, but many things that they’d like to try, and put into motion. Consequently far too many ideas around marketing are started but rarely continued on a regular basis – the publication of company newsletters and blogs are 2 of the main ideas being ditched because they take too long to show any results. If you cannot follow it through, don’t waste your time and money even starting on it.
Failure to Track Results
If you do not track the effectiveness of any advertising, you may as well have thrown your money away! You should have a system in place whereby you can reliably track every sale and new customer generated from the ad. There are many ways of doing this: online tracking tools that you can use to track online advertising; ask the simple ‘where did you hear about us’ question on forms and when speaking directly to the customer; make use of varying voucher codes depending on the advertising campaign; or track the ad’s effectiveness by using different telephone numbers.
It is a regular occurrence for a business to enquire about the cost of advertising in a particular publication and then to decide that it is ‘far too expensive’. As a result they may then go and advertise in a cheaper publication that their target audience may not even read. When it comes to untargeted advertising space, always remember: “Never buy what you don’t need because it’s cheap.”
Skimping on Image
Saving money where it shows gives out the wrong message to your customers and could harm your image and affect your sales. For most businesses a basic website could portray the message that you’re a new business strapped for cash. Similarly, black and white printed flyers and other marketing materials may not be taken seriously. You should spend what is required to get the right look and feel to everything your customers see, from your product, to your website, to your marketing materials.
Ignoring Repeat Business
Remember that you don’t have to always attract new customers but you do need to always look after the ones you have. For established businesses around 80% of sales come from repeat business and existing customers. Ensure your marketing strategy includes focussing efforts on continuing to build relationships with existing customers – it will most likely prove to be your most cost-effective marketing.
Written by Letitia Cavanagh, Nwes Sales Performance Manager based at the Suffolk Enterprise Centre in Ipswich.