How you approach your operations from a marketing standpoint is key to its success. Marketing for many small businesses is viewed as a necessary evil or a mysterious phenomenon that seems to be all too elusive when it comes to getting results for the business. You try this tactic or that tactic. You implement this program or that program.You ramp up your sales efforts or develop exciting new promotions.
And yet, nothing seems to have any sticking power. If you are doing any of these five missteps, chances are your marketing isn’t giving you the results you desire.
1. Reactive vs. Proactive: Too many businesses approach their marketing activity from a feast or famine mentality. What I mean by this is that marketing occurs in reaction to sales not happening or slowing down. When the business has plenty of business in the pipeline, then all marketing activity comes to a screeching halt. When your marketing is conducted in a reactive mode, you are guaranteeing a roller coaster sales cycle and a continuous feeling of needing to catch back up when sales slide.
2. Transactional vs. Relational: Some businesses make the mistake of unintentionally being viewed as only interested in making a transaction with customers versus building a relationship with and caring about their customers. Could this be your business? Your choices in how you market your business can be viewed as transactional, further reinforcing to your customer that you are only interested in making a sale. If a customer only learns about you from paid advertising, and then the message being heard is all about what you are selling, the price, discounts, and limited-time-offer deals, you are telling your target audience you want their money and nothing more. A customer also needs to learn about your business in ways that demonstrate you are vested in building relationships. Public relations, charitable involvements, existing customer testimonials, community outreach and strategic involvements demonstrate that you value and appreciate relationships with customers and within the marketplace.
3. Impulsive vs. Strategic: The beauty of being a small business over big-company competitors is your ability to be nimble and responsive. However, another way in which businesses hurt their marketing effort is through impulsively trying a tactic or promoting an introductory offer without any strategic thought to how it works within an overall marketing action plan. Decisions are made based on short-term thinking with the intention to incite fast or quick sales. Then disappointment occurs when sales don't happen. Chances are the sales didn't happen because you veered away from your core strategy or don't have a strategy for making sound decisions.
4. Sporadic vs. Cohesive: Part of confidence building in marketing is in how consistent your business appears through its marketing before a customer decides to purchase from you. When your marketing program is sporadic with nothing that cohesively glues it together such as branding, reinforcing messaging, and consistently executed tactics over time, your target audience may be viewing your business as unreliable or inconsistent in how it operates. Every initiative you take from a marketing standpoint should be determined based on how it is effectively reaching your ideal customer in multiple ways with an underlying objective to validate that your company is one that can be counted on to deliver as promised.
5. Tactical vs. Targeted: Some businesses get it half right in choosing the right tactics, but then missing the mark in how they are targeting their ideal prospective customer. A landscaping firm was sending thousands of direct mailers, but became frustrated when results attracted prospects that didn't want to spend the money. When a deeper study of who was truly an ideal customer was conducted, the company shifted to only sending a few hundred mailers and realized greater, more highly qualified results. Your tactics should always take your marketing to a higher level of effectiveness through well-conceived targeting.
Businesses that understand marketing as an integral part of everyday operations are leap-years ahead of the typical small business. Take a step back and view your business operations with marketing as the critical success factor that it is, and you will begin to realize better results and return on investment.
Sherré DeMao is author of the nationally acclaimed books, 50 Marketing Secrets of Growth Companies in Down Economic Times, www.50marketingsecrets.com, and Me, Myself & Inc., www.memyselfandinc.com, Her column seeks to help business owners build and grow sustainable enterprises and businesses with economic value and preference in the marketplace.