Many business owners spend most of their time “putting out fires” rather than working “on” their business. Small business owners need to focus the majority of their time and efforts on planning and marketing, which have a higher long-term payoff.
No. 2 – Failing to Create and Use a Marketing Plan
Very few business owners have a current marketing plan that they use and refer to on a consistent basis. Studies have shown that small businesses that create and consistently use marketing plans experience an average of 30 percent higher sales than their competitors. Here are a few tips to get you on the road to having an actionable marketing plan:
- List the specific reasons why your clients buy from you
- Create a message that focuses entirely on that “why”
- Break your plan down into mini implementable tasks
- Review your plan once a week
No. 3: Failing to Implement Systems
A system is a business process that generates predictable, consistent and replicable results day after day. If you want to see a good example of a system, simply visit a fast-food franchise like McDonalds. Never taking the time to systematize your business results in duplication, waste, chaos and ultimately lost sales. Most small companies have systems for just about everything they do, but they don’t document them or train their employees to use them.
No.4: Forgetting to Market to Your Current Customers
Many small business owners believe that once you sell your product or service and the happy customer walks out the door or hangs up the phone, then the deed is done and you need to move quickly on to the next prospect. The fact is that you should be getting 60 to 70 percent of your business from your current customers through referral and repeat business. Customer appreciation events, programs and newsletters are systems that generate multiple streams of customer referrals.
No.5: Not Testing or Tracking Your Marketing Efforts
The only way to invest in your marketing efforts with confidence is to test a campaign, track it and measure your results. One idea is to always offer something in your advertising campaign so that you can track your response. This strategy also allows you to capture your prospect’s contact information so that you can continue to follow up with them.
No.6 – Not Differentiating Your Small Business
How do you distinguish a business in a way that separates it from the competition? A simple way to do that is to keep a close eye on the marketing that really captures your attention and make a note of it. Then borrow and modify these strategies and ideas to create a unique and compelling message.