The 4 Biggest Marketing Challenges Facing Small Businesses

The 4 Biggest Marketing Challenges Facing Small Businesses

There are many challenges facing a small business owner when it comes to their marketing. We lack time because of the many hats we’re wearing and, unless you’re a serial entrepreneur, you probably can’t boast a degree in business studies either.

If you struggle with your marketing, have a look at these four common marketing obstacles and what you can do about them.

1. Nobody Responds To My Marketing

Are you focusing enough on your customers? Be it price, the nature of your products, the location and timing of your marketing, your offers or your branding and USP – your decisions should always be ruled by one question: What do your (ideal) customers want?

Google's Eric SchmidtThanks to the internet, people have all the information they want at their fingertips. They can compare prices, look at your customer reviews or find out about your services on social media. They make more informed choices before buying because they can see through marketing and advertising campaigns.

What that means for your business is quite nicely summarised by Google’s Eric Schmidt (rather misleadingly titled How Google works, but still an inspiring read for business owners):

“Power has shifted from companies to consumers, and expectations have never been higher. Companies can’t get away with having crummy products, at least not for long. For example, bad product reviews trump clever marketing. Today, great products win.”

Always keep the customer in mind when it comes to your products, customer service and – above all – your marketing.

2. I Hate Marketing

For your business to succeed you need marketing. There’s NO WAY around it. The best product ever can’t guarantee success if your target audience doesn’t know about it.

Even if your friends, family, former colleagues and business contacts keep you busy for now, make sure you still have work after you’ve finished their projects and everyone you know is catered for. It’s nice in the beginning, but at some point that source will dry up or at least slow down. And then what?

Bite the bullet now, stop procrastinating and get your marketing off the ground as early as possible. It’s never too late to advertise your products, engage with your audience on social media or invest in a professional website design.

Accept that marketing will always be part of your business life. Look at it this way: As soon as you made enough money, you can pay someone to do your marketing for you. Promise!

3. I Tried It, It Didn’t Work

It doesn't work“Any marketing is good marketing” is not the name of the game. For your marketing to have the desired outcome, you must mean it. If you don’t invest in your business and believe in your product, why should your customers?

Nobody expects you to be an expert, but a half-hearted attempt at marketing helps no one. It’s your business and your responsibility, so learn about your target group, get your message to your audience, live your company’s values and be the champion your products deserve.

The more passion you put into your marketing, the more you’ll attract like-minded people, giving you the best possible start to growing your customer base.

4. I Don’t Know What Marketing Channels I Should Choose

The choice is yours – and that’s where the trouble starts. You’ve done your research, you know what your customers value and where they hang out, leaving you with a list of possible marketing activities. But which should you go for?

Marketing advice from blog posts, magazine articles or workshops only add to the confusion, but two simple questions will cut through the tangled mass in your head and allow you to make a well-informed decision:

  1. How much time can you realistically set aside for your marketing?
  2. What do you enjoy doing? (Or, what do you hate least?)

The answer to the first question should narrow down the number of possible marketing activities considerably. Remember, it’s better to do one thing right than a lot of things poorly.

Question two should give you priorities: If you like writing but hate speaking in front of large groups, scrap public speaking or workshops and write a blog, newsletter or social media posts. If you don’t feel comfortable with a hard sell, choose informal, relaxed networking groups rather than highly structured and facilitated events.

Choose your marketing according to your time and interests. Use marketing channels you feel comfortable with and that suit your personality and talents. You might even end up enjoying it!


To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
How to Do Marketing Your Way
5 Steps to Get More From Your Marketing – in Less Time
Do You Know Enough About Your Target Groups?
Choosing the Right Marketing Channels for Your Small Business


Published byDenise Strohsahl

Denise Strohsahl is an Edinburgh-based marketing consultant, specialising in helping small, local businesses get more of their ideal clients.