This post by Ben Tedore
By: Debra Ward, Marketing Consultant, Dream Weaver Marketing
Starting a new business is fun, but it takes careful planning to do it right. Even if you’ve been in business for several years, you may find this information useful. As a marketing consultant, I’ve been able to backtrack and fix some of the foundation issues for small businesses in order to help them grow. Many say they had wished they had called me sooner. My goal with this article is to help shed light on some of the most common mistakes I’ve seen over my 20-year career helping small business owners, and help advise small businesses on how they can avoid them.
The good news is that small business failure has decreased in 2016 according to Entrepreneur. It claims some of the reasons are smarter small business owners and better business-management technology. What smart business owners have learned include:
- Write a marketing plan. A marketing plan includes research so you can devise an effective plan of action. Most people write a business plan but forget to include important marketing research and strategies, such as:
- Research your competition. Know who your competitors are. This will help you better position your company as far as what makes you unique and how to price your products. This includes developing your USP, your unique selling proposition. What sets you apart from the competitors is one of the keys to your success. It allows your potential customers to see why your product is better.
- Research your target audience. Who is most likely to purchase your product? Look into market segmentation, and develop different content for different segments. This will help you better understand your customers so you can target them in your marketing more effectively.
- Set goals, objectives, and strategies. How will you attract your buyers? Your strategies may include direct mail, email, public relations, social media, content strategy, couponing, webinars, events, blogs, partnerships, and other activities that will help attract and maintain customers. An open house or “launch” event is a good start; include press releases and news stories.
- Set up your social media. This plays an important role too, so add it to your marketing strategies in your plan. Get your name on the Internet in as many places as you can imagine. Use different content, upload photos, and use the same mailing address, URL, and phone number, because search engines will reward you for being consistent. Join LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social media channels. Provide them with value! Don’t just sell to them. Give them something they find valuable.
- Develop a monthly marketing budget. Test different strategies to see what’s working. If something isn’t working, stop and try another strategy. Stay in budget. Research what your competitors are doing. Get new ideas.
- Track your progress. Make sure you have the Google Analytics code on every page of your website so you can track to see which pages are getting the most attention. Track your growth. Improve where you’re lacking.
- Set up an Internet business. Regarding your website, this is the second most common small business mistake. Some web designers are HTML specialists who design websites but are not SEO specialists. In fact, some know nothing about SEO. In my career, nine out of 10 cases, a website was designed without the proper URL, relative keywords, H1, and H2 headings. Without these very important components, a website is poorly ranked by Google and other search engines, and your website will not show up on an internet search with your competition. Here’s how to avoid the mistake. Ask you web designer to do the following:
- Purchase keyword URLs or use keyword URLs on every unique page. For instance, “http://davidsflowers.com.com” is the company URL. But what if someone in Midwest City, OK is searching “Flowers, Midwest City.” You may want to purchase “flowersmidwestcity.com” and point this new sub-domain to your main URL. A good web designer will know how to do this. URLs with the keyword your customer is searching for are more likely to get found because the keyword is in the URL and will get shown more times than not. This makes a huge difference. When I added the “marketingconsultantreno.com” URL and pointed it to my business website, I received a call to consult for Nascar who would never have found me otherwise.
- Know your keywords. There are many tools to help you come up with the keywords for your pages. These include Yahoo Keyword Tool, Google Adwords keyword planner, and many more. Know what your customers are searching to find you. Note: it’s usually not your company name if they don’t yet know you.
- Use those keywords all over your website. Each page should have an title heading in large bold letters with keywords.
- Whatever keywords you use in your SEO box utilizing your website’s back-end tool, use those keywords in your content at least three times.
- Make sure you have Google Analytics code on every page.
- Set up an online presence. This should all be done at once. When you’re ready, publish and test your website. When working perfectly, then set up your Google Plus pages, your YouTube pages, Yahoo Business, and other online business directories like Yellow pages and Yelp. These will be important for SEO, as well as setting up pages for customer ratings that will improve your rankings. This is one of the main issues I see with small businesses. They don’t set everything up correctly the first time, and their website doesn’t get found on the Internet under relevant organic searches. This means their competition is getting the business. This is more important than most people think. Remember, Google likes Google. Setting up, verifying and populating your Google Plus page with different and unique content and keywords helps small businesses thrive because they now show up in the directory of listings. Customer ratings keep rankings high.
- Utilize software. Find software that helps you manage your business more efficiently. Quickbooks, and other order management and inventory management software can be very helpful in growing your business, because you eliminate countless hours of manual entries.
According to Forbes, some of the main reasons so many small businesses fail is their inability to plan, no differentiation (USP), lack of leadership, ignoring customer needs, the inability to learn from failure, and lack of capital.
Know your audience, know your SEO, know the importance in social media, and do a marketing plan. With proper planning and knowing what some of the key issues are, you can grow and achieve extraordinary results. Know what questions to ask the people you employ to help you. And most of all, become your customer. Search the Internet for the products you offer, and find out where you stand once you’re up and running. Set your plan, make your goals, test your success, and move forward with what IS working. Get rid of what’s not working.
I hope this information helps you to increase your website visits, and in turn, helps you sell more products and grow your business. Happy marketing!