Today’s blog is inspired by the terrific feedback for my talk to the Askew Business Network this week. The talk was entitled ’5 classic marketing mistakes made by many small businesses and how to avoid them.’ I share some of the key points here:
Mistake number 1: No regular marketing activity
Many owners of small businesses get so bogged down in running their businesses that they only do marketing when they have no work. This is too late. Marketing is an incremental activity, it takes time to build rapport and trust so marketing should be a regular activity designed to keep existing customers and win new ones. Try to do something at least once a week.
Mistake number 2 Unclear target market
No business can sell to everyone in fact some of the most successful businesses are very niche based. Try to work out who your best customers are and look for their common characteristics, how can you find more people or businesses like them?
This is where the 80:20 rule comes in, 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your customers. 80% of your profits will come from 20% of your sales. What do those 20% have in common? A detailed analysis should yield some interesting data, if it doesn’t consider doing some market research.
Mistake number 3: Differentiating on lowest price
Times are hard and most people are being very careful with money so many businesses have reduced prices as a means to compete. The problem with competing onclowest price is that it tends to stimulate a price war from which there are rarely any winners.
Whilst some customers will make a decision based on price most will make it on value so look for ways in which you can add value to differentiate your offer from your competitors. Take a lesson from the supermarkets and consider offering three price points i.e. value, standard and premium. Ensure that the difference is clear and that the added value is something customers will be willing to pay extra for and make sure you communicate each offer clearly.
Mistake number 4: Selling features not benefits
Take a look at most of the fliers that land on your doormat and they will tell you what the business does. Who cares? What we want to know is ‘what’s in it for me’? So rather than just listing pruning as a service a tree surgeon should say ‘trees pruned to avoid dangerous root growth which can damage your house’; a photographer can offer ‘to capture this fleeting moment in your family’s history’ rather than just listing family portraits as a service.
To turn your list of features into benefits try adding ‘so this means that…’ and make sure that you explain what it means to your target customers. Ideally you should explain how your product or service solves a problem for your customer.
Mistake number 5: Me, me, me.
Far too many businesses spend all their marketing space talking about ‘we’ and ‘our’; prospects are not interested. We all hate a show off and that is really what this approach is! Prospects want to know that you understand their problems and can offer them a solution. So start by identifying the problems you solve for your target customers, show you really understand the effect of those problems and then explain your solution. Ideally use customer testimonials to convince your prospects to make an enquiry.
As a rule of thumb about 70% of your marketing material should be about your prospect and their problems and 30% about you and why you are the right choice for your prospect.
So there you have my five classic marketing mistakes. My challenge was to limit my talk to just five! Over the next few weeks I will be expanding on these five and how to avoid them and will add a few more to my blog posts. Why not click the follow button at the top of the page to make sure you don’t miss out on the next instalments?
Glenda Shawley has spent the last 20 years helping people to start and grow small businesses. Her advice is practical and cost effective. Her talks and courses invariably get great feedback and her marketing initiatives yield results. Why not email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how she can help you?