Starting a new business? Avoid these 5 marketing mistakes
Setting up a business can feel like you’re spinning plates. There’s a hundred things to do, a thousand things to think about, not least financial pressures! It’s all too easy for marketing become an afterthought – or to be rushed into without a clear strategy in place.
But good marketing is essential for a business to survive. Your customers won’t find you without it. At best, marketing mistakes will cost time and money down the line when restoring your brand’s image.
I’ve learned how to promote a small business effectively – sometimes the hard way! – and I’ll share the common pitfalls to avoid, so your business can get it right from the very start.
1. Promoting before researching the industry
You’ve a great product or expert service to sell. Of course you want to get in front of consumers. And you’re under pressure to see profits ASAP – especially if you’ve invested capital for your new business to take off.
For this reason, many new entrepreneurs forge ahead and promote with without learning about their industry. But customers choose a product or brand that stands out as different from – or better than – the alternatives.
And if you know about your competition, you’ll be able to tell potential customers what makes you special.
Before you invest in promoting your product, get the lay of the land. Do some googling around your industry to find out where the demand for your product or service is, and browse the websites of similar businesses. If you’ve a bricks and mortar store, find out what’s going on locally.
For example, if you see an introductory discount has been used by someone else, you might want to try a different approach – or at least offer a lower price!
2. Not identifying the ideal customer
Marketing is only effective if it connects with the people who will use your product or service. If you’re selling edgy designer dresses, chances are promoting them to OAP’s won’t get you much of a response! But often a disconnect can be more subtle, like misjudging the language customers use, or not realising their needs and wants.
When I started my business, this concept seemed like a Catch-22 scenario: if you haven’t had any customers yet, how can you get to know them?
But it is possible. Here’s how:
Do some market research via a survey tool like SurveyHero to learn your target audiences’ demographic – info like gender and income level. Take a look at online forums like Quora to find out what problems they’re experiencing, and how your product or service can help.
Next, use this info to create a couple of buyer personas – fictional profiles of people who match your demographic. Making up personas sounds like a gimmick, I know. But it’s actually a great way to picture a real person you can empathise with. Of course when you get you first customers you can learn from them, too.
3. Having a website that doesn’t perform
Having a website these days is a no-brainer. Customers are online, so that’s where you need to be. And your website will likely be your customers’ first impression of you. If it’s shoddy, they won’t take you seriously and they’ll leave.
But lots of businesses fall into the trap of choosing a template or web developer without doing any homework beforehand. A great website should do more than just look good. Your provider should give you a website that is:
- Clear, easy to navigate and user friendly.
- Compatible with Google’s indexing so it can be ranked on search results.
- Crucially, a website needs to be optimised for mobile devices. With so many people using smart phones to search online, your customers will expect it, and so does Google. In fact, if your website isn’t mobile friendly it’s less likely to show up search results.
4. Not investing in the message
Having an attractive website wins part of the battle, but it’s words – the message you convey – that will sell your product. And if your message is consistent across all your communications, people will trust your brand, and buy from you.
But writing great content can be tricky! You need to grab attention, be entertaining and convey to customers what you do and why they should choose you over anyone else – often in the first couple of sentences.
And if you want to rank in Google’s search results, you need to include keywords and other SEO tactics, too. Even if you’re great at writing, you need to commit plenty of time to get it right.
Hiring a pro can be an excellent investment. Not only do you save valuable time, but because a writer isn’t immersed in running your business, he or she will be able to step into your customer’s shoes and write persuasive content that resonates with them.
5. Not making time for social media
With the day-to-day practicalities of running a business, one of the things many startups put off is updating their social media. I’ve been there, too. The last thing you want to do after a busy day is come up with yet another Facebook post!
But your potential customers will check your social media to learn more about your company, what your values are and how you engage with other customers. And an inactive social media page can signal you’re no longer trading.
It’s helpful to create a window in your calendar for social media updates, even if it’s just half an hour a week. And if you can’t spare any time, hire a pro to do it for you – or use tools like Buffer to post across several platforms at once.
Aim to help, entertain, resolve complaints and forge relationships with your customers. Invite feedback, too, and you’ll stand out – and be remembered, in a good way! Platforms like Twitter are also handy for networking, allowing you to connect with other influencers in your industry.
There you have it: the 5 biggest marketing mistakes to avoid when you’re starting out. Use these tips when you begin to promote your new business, and you’ll hit the ground running. I hope you’ve found this article helpful, and I wish you the best of luck with your new venture!
Did I miss anything? Got some great marketing tips you’d like to share? Feel free to drop me a line in the comments below.