For any small business to survive, the entrepreneur behind the major decisions must always keep a close eye on the bottom line. No company, whether startup or ten-year veteran, can afford to throw away resources. And since consumers are still particularly tight with their spending thanks to the recession, the margin between success and failure is quite slim. You cannot expect new business to make up for poor decisions, nor can you hope that a small business loan will come around to save you if you cannot prove you manage a tight ship. Some mistakes are small enough to overcome. But others will cost you big time, and if you don’t rectify the situation they regrettably force you to close up shop. Here are five costly business marketing mistakes you must avoid to be successful.
First of all, make sure that your focus on growth doesn’t mean you ignore your current customer base. It’s always far more expensive to find and enroll a new client or customer than to retain a current one. If you spend your whole promotional budget on opening up new markets you might be ignoring an easy and obvious way to make more money for your business. In fact, research shows that existing customers will spend as much as one-third more than a new customer with your business. Spend the time, energy and resources on turning one time customers into dedicated, lifelong fans, and you’ll always be better off.
It’s also clear that regardless of your business model or industry, you cannot skip out on social media. Even the largest international corporations are spending big bucks online, which means it’s an obvious must for the small business. Your customers are online, and they’re on Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and Pinterest. You’ll have to work through each network to determine which one is the best fit for your particular business. But if you aren’t spending money and energy online, you’re missing out on the largest growing market there is.
In a recession economy it’s easy to focus on price. People are trying to get by with less, and there are millions of people out there who shop for the lowest cost before making any sort of purchasing decision. But trimming the fat in order to offer the lowest price of any of your competitors isn’t always the best move. It works for Wal-Mart, but they also deal in volume at a massive scale. If your offerings are more personal or finely crafted, trying to deliver the same quality at a lower price will never work. And you’ll lose the reason people buy from you in the first place.
Perhaps you’ve got your pricing locked in, you appreciate your customers and your social network is vibrant. But are you paying attention to the results of your marketing efforts? If you put money into promotion but you don’t measure its effectiveness, you might as well just throw that work away. Take the time to gauge the return on your investment, and adjust your marketing accordingly. Without that conscious analysis, you’ll miss the mark more often than not.
All of the above will be meaningless if your marketing doesn’t craft a clear and unique brand identity. You can spend big bucks on sticker printing, but does the image on that sticker differentiate your business from the competition? Check in with your market to see how well you’ve accomplished this goal to date. And consider a rebranding effort if your research finds it is needed. It will always serve you best to spend your money here before you sink another dollar into marketing an undifferentiated brand.