A while ago, I made a list of 10 Basic Mistakes that can Sabotage Your Marketing. These were things so common that people are often not aware that they are detrimental to their businesses. (And I have to admit that I was guilty of a few of them myself.)
In the past months I have come across a few more of these simple marketing blunders that can make the difference between failure and success for your small business. Have a look and make sure to give them a wide berth in the future!
1. Quick Results
I’m probably the most impatient person I know (seriously, I beat 2-year-old toddlers at it — just minus the tantrums) but if I learned one thing in the past 15 years it’s that marketing only works if you are in it for the long run.
One advert simply won’t do as well as one mail shot won’t get you a huge amount of new business. People need to see more of you before they start trusting you and it often takes even longer for them to go and do business with you. Give it time and keep at it and you’ll reap the benefits.
2. Abandoned Profiles & Blogs
You have probably seen as much of this as I have: Websites with Twitter widgets that show tweets from 2012, blogs that have been withering away with the last entry from three years ago.
Fair enough, I think everyone’s Google+ profile is deserted because we’re all just there for the SEO. But everything else: Either you get in the game or take it off your website. Nothing looks as bad as old posts that makes potential customers wonder if you’re as quick to give up when working for them.
3. Out of Date
Another one is the tiny copyright in the footer of your website, price list or company brochure: Please make sure they are up-to-date lest interested clients wonder if you’re still in business. Or what do you do with an old menu from your local take-away?
So keep your marketing material updated at all times and make sure that next time they need your services it’s you they call and not your competition.
4. Too Generic
I’ve recently googled for a company called ‘e.a.t.’ I couldn’t find it! All that Google gave me was sandwich shops and other food and drink related websites, even when I added their location to my search.
When creating your company name make make sure you don’t choose very generic or omnipresent words that will make ranking in search results a living hell and a very costly one at that. And obviously don’t assume that Google treats abbreviations or acronyms any different.
5. Hidden Premises
I know it’s not always easy but please don’t hide your shop or offices from your customers. Have appropriate signage installed that is visible from further up the road and makes people aware of where you are.
A few years ago a new restaurant opened next door. The weird thing, their had blinds in their windows, all day. You couldn’t look in and you couldn’t see if they were actually open or not. Nothing is scarier than entering somewhere and not knowing what you enter into. Be visible and don’t hide your business.
6. Unsolicited Emails
This happens all the time: I receive newsletters selling me something or informing me about the event of the year. Only problem: I have never heard of these people or companies. Ever.
Of course this is illegal, but I also get that small businesses need to market themselves. But please ask your recipients first if it is ok to put them on your mailing list. Otherwise you risk ruining your image.
When doing a little competitor’s research for one of my clients, I saw that one of them had actually copied the text word for word from their website. It’s one of these things you simply don’t expect to happen, but there it was. After a polite nudge we got a quick ‘We’ll check it out’, the content was taken off their website and we never heard from them again.
No matter how awesome your competition or even just other businesses are, never copy their content or images. Find your own tone of voice and USP and you’ll be better off anyway.
8. Too Cheap
A very important principle in marketing is that you have to convey value with everything you do. And we’re not just talking pointing out the benefits of your services or products.
If what you’re selling is expensive then your marketing and marketing material has to match this by being high quality and well-made as well. Nothing is less convincing than a cheap home-printed flyer that wants to sell me a car or leather sofa.
Something that strikes me very often when looking at marketing material, brands, websites and social media profiles is that a lot of businesses don’t tell you what they actually do.
People only spend a split second to look at your signage, homepage or business card. And unless your company name or logo is obvious (e.g. East Coast Printers or Edinburgh Car Wash), only an explanatory tagline or headline can tell them who you are and keep people from turning away.
10. Don’t Stand Out
This is something that I encounter often online: Yes, I know that there are lots of website templates out there that make creating your own website easy and affordable. But always try and make that design your own.
Having a bog-standard website might save you money in the beginning but can cost you business in the long run. If you don’t stand out and are one of many with the latest fashionable web design, you will have a harder job at being remembered and attracting customers.
11. Too Much at Once
Sometimes it is better to do one thing properly than doing many things moderately well. ‘A Lot Helps a Lot’ unfortunately does not apply to marketing your small business.
There are no quick results in marketing. To have sustainable success with your small business you have to accept that marketing is a slow burner and tackle only as much as you can sensibly take. Always choose quality over quantity.
12. Bad Behaviour
Larger companies often have a sticker at the back of their company vehicles asking people to call a number to report good (or bad) drivers. This is something that some small business owners forget.
Always be aware that when you’re driving in a branded company car or even just walking around in your branded work clothes, your behaviour reflects back on your business. If you want to do business, be nice and friendly. Always.
13. Mix Up
Last but not least, this is not always fatal but can bring your small business or yourself in quite some disrepute: As small business owner you probably have personal social media profiles and company profiles. And thanks to most platforms and apps you have access to all your accounts and can easily switch between them.
But careful: Always double-check before posting, especially when tweeting from your night out with your best pals. On social media, your updates should always be personal but your company followers might only take so many drunken tweets before heading off to your competitors.
What do you think?
Does any of this sound familiar? I’ll certainly have to remind myself of some of these from time to time… :)
If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:
10 Basic Mistakes that can Sabotage Your Marketing
Is Your Marketing Annoying People?
How to Tackle the Biggest Marketing Challenges for Small Businesses
The Biggest Marketing Time Sinks & How to Avoid Them