Your business is trucking along gaining new customers and turning a profit, but you know it could do better. You have growth but you have not yet come anywhere near reaching the saturation point of your market. To some, what is in this article may seem to be simple logic, but I have seen business after business make mistakes in this area over and over and over again. What they don’t realize is every time they get it wrong it costs them money, and these are simple mistakes that – if avoided – can have profound savings for your business.
Mistake 1 – Marketing according to the dream instead of reality.
Lets say I sell a business-to-business application that helps with accounting. Sure I have dreams and aspirations of every business in the nation using this application. But right now my only clients are in my local market. In fact my clients appreciate my personal touch with the application and growth is good but there are still plenty of local businesses I haven’t reached.
We’ve seen business after business in very similar situations take the easy way out and cast a large advertising net, either nationally or regionally. The mistake they’re making is in marketing their dream not their reality. For the sake of argument lets say 90% of this business’s customers are local to their home city. Let’s also assume they are no where near market saturation locally, assumptions that are true for many small businesses. Instead of wasting marketing dollars on clients that only make up 10% of your client base it makes more sense for this business to focus on reaching businesses within their own city. So don’t do national campaigns.
Even if your business has reached a good market share locally and IS ready to start expanding into new markets, HAVE A PLAN! You will not win over the entire nation all at once, just look at politics to see the truth of that statement. Instead have a plan to focus on the next city down the highway from you, and then the next, and the next after that. Build strategically. If you concentrate your marketing on a defined area and work hard on building into that area, your efforts are focused. Trust me, being focused and working on just one city at a time will pay off. When you have finally grown to have an internal marketing team doing this for you, you will have the funds to finally reach your dream of national importance. But if you start with a wide national focus you will never have enough money to continue your marketing campaigns over such a large area. You do not have the client base to support that yet.
Mistake 2 – No defined target client group.
Let’s say the product you are selling resonates with young families who own their home. It does not matter what the product is but you have taken a serious look at your current customers and have realized that the vast majority (any demographic marker that is shared by over 50% of your clients) are in their 30’s and 40’s, have kids, and own their home. This is your ideal client group. So what if your dream is for every person in the world to have one of your widgets in their home, look at mistake 1. Your ideal client fits into the above category so run with that! Own that category and target all your marketing efforts to this group. I have seen time and time again businesses waste money by targeting everyone in their city, even when parents are the only people interested in buying their product! Stop wasting money and own your target client group. We are all in the business of making money, and they are the ones currently paying for your product.
How do you define your target client group? Look at your current customers. What are common characteristics that define a large number of them? Are they male, female, does it matter? What is the age range? What is the most common age? Are they married or single or other? Do they have kids, and of what age? What are their hobbies? What are their passions? What else do they normally buy? What kind of business are they in? If they are a business what do they sell? How many employees do they have? What is their industry? What other services are they looking for? The clearer the picture of who makes up your ideal client group, the easier your marketing will be.
Mistake 3 – Not having a plan.
Some of you may laugh but trust me I have seen it time and again, businesses without a clear marketing plan. I get it, as small business owners you have to wear a lot of hats, and marketing takes up a lot of time. But believe me when I say if you pay for marketing without having a plan you are wasting your money. You need to plan out how your sales funnel is going to work. You need to plan out your landing pages, emails, assets, GRAPHICS, text, and more. Without a complete marketing package you are going to wind up wasting your time, or worse, you are going to wind up driving people away from your business because your marketing efforts do not look coordinated or professional. You need to have a plan and you need to stick to it. I would argue that it’s better to wait a few more weeks to launch your marketing campaign WITH a plan in place than to dive into the deep end and not even know where the side of the pool is.
As a part of any good plan you need to not only create the journey that a client will go on from the top to the bottom of your sales funnel, you also need to create the look and feel of the marketing campaign. I have seen businesses that had good sales funnels but their assets, their graphics and copy, looked like it came from 3 different sources for five different outcomes. Do not be that person. Sit down and make sure that you’ve thought through your marketing plan and the assets you will need before you get started. And make sure you have those assets ready to go. One last thing about assets, is that one picture does not fit all. There are slightly different aspect ratios and resolutions for each different social media platform and one picture will not work across them all. So not only do you need the assets in place, you have to have a plan for each asset and which platform it will be used upon.
If you have any questions or need help with any of these areas for your business do not hesitate to contact me. This is what I like to do. I like to help businesses market themselves more effectively. Whether you need help defining the reality of your business, or developing the image of your target client group, or you desperately need a plan; let me know. Hang in there and know that every business owner goes through this process.