Promotion is an essential part of marketing your small business and growing your profit. Yet too often, small business owners try new strategies without measuring the results and knowing how it aligns with their business goals. It can cause owners to limit their marketing budget or skip it altogether. So in order to know how and where to spend your marketing resources, you need to first avoid the promotional traps that so many small business owners fall into.
Here are common promotion mistakes small businesses make:
1) Treating marketing as an expense rather than an investment.
An expense is something you buy and depreciate. An investment is something you purchase that will deliver value in the future. The sole purpose of promotion is to drive more leads: To gain new customers and keep them as raving fans. So if you run your small business, looking at promotion as an expense which you are ready to cut when things get tight, you may want to reshape your marketing perspective..
Often when turbulent times hit and your sales tank, the first inclination is to reduce your promotional budget. This is an absolute wrong decision. Promotion is the very catalyst you need to spur growth and drive new opportunities.
2) Targeting the wrong audience.
No matter how great your messaging, logo or ad campaigns are, if you’re targeting the wrong audience, you’re flushing dollars down the toilet. When you target the masses, follow your gut or have a notion about who your prospect or customer is, without looking at data about who is actually making purchases, you run a huge risk of doing the very same thing.
Spend time getting to understand why your customers buy and what problem they were trying to solve when they found you. Promotional efforts can then be shifted to match the results and demographics such as gender, age, industry and reasons they made a purchase. Misreading an audience can send your small business down the wrong path. However if you target your ideal buyer you will maximize your promotions budget and find yourself attracting and keeping more customers.
3) Not differentiating your product or service.
It’s rare that a business creates its own category, product or service that’s never been seen before. In most markets, small businesses face competition, which is why they need to communicate their unique value proposition… why they are different. You need a solid reason that’s easy to explain and gives people an obvious reason to do business with you instead of your competitors.
Use your marketing to educate potential customers, not just sell to them. Educating consumers in a way that defines what differentiates you from your competition makes it easier for them to make a buying decision. If you can’t define why your product or service is unique, you can’t expect a potential customer to do either.
4) Not having a clue what kind of promotion your competitors are doing.
Keep abreast of what your competitors are doing for promotion and study their efforts, you’ll see which of those initiatives succeeds and fails. Are there tactics they tested and then never do again? Which do they employ month after month?
By being attentive to the competition’s marketing efforts, you can learn from their successes and failures and best allocate your marketing resources to find new customers. It can also help you define ways to differentiate your business from your competition.
5) You don’t have a strong online presence.
Believe it or not, a huge number of small businesses don’t have a website. From a marketing perspective, that can be disastrous. Some small business owners think because they are local, or have just one location, they don’t really need a website. But the game has changed. More consumers are searching online for products and consumers will generally find you online before they go to your business.
Creating an online presence is a proactive way to promote your business. It gives prospects and customers a way to learn about your business and your offerings at their convenience. Tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, and Google are not just for social hour. They can give you access to your target audience and drive real results when leveraged correctly. It can also provide valuable insights which will help you measure and track the success of various marketing efforts.
There is a slim line between success and failure for any small business. By eliminating these costly mistakes and having a sound promotion strategy in place you will be able to reach more customers and grow profitably.
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