Small businesses are always fighting uphill battles. You’ve got other small businesses to battle, but you also have larger companies that might enter the same service area as you. Therefore, your marketing strategy comes under a lot of scrutiny. You must have a way of driving people to your business and making your company stand out from the rest.
Unfortunately, the majority of small companies fail at marketing. Now, the standard argument is that small businesses lack the financial resources of larger ones. As such, they can’t compete on the marketing front, hence the failures.
However, the issues run a bit deeper than that. You don’t necessarily need a massive budget to run a successful marketing strategy. In reality, most small enterprises struggle because of one – or all – of the reasons below.
Why Do Most Small Business Marketing Strategies Fall Flat?
Reason 1: A lack of market research
All marketing strategies begin with in-depth research into your chosen market. Here, you discover who your audience is, what they’re like, and what they’re interested in. Of course, it goes deeper than this, but many small businesses don’t conduct this type of research. This is usually because they don’t know how!
There are marketing agencies like KW2 that conduct extensive market research and planning for businesses. If you compare this to what most small companies do, then the differences are shocking. The chances are, you might have an idea in your head for the target customer – this might just be male, a certain age, and that’s it. You assume this is all the research you need, but it’s not! You have to think about your rivals, the gap in the market you’ll fill, etc… the list goes on.
Without this research, you will waste time on a strategy that lacks any real structure or direction. You must know who to target, and your market research guides you in figuring out the best ways to capture your audience.
Reason 2: Too much focus on outbound marketing
Outbound marketing definitely still has its place in small business marketing strategies. However, there’s often too much emphasis on it. Business owners are too focused on trying to actively get people to their company. This often leads to lots of wasted time and money on cold calls, advertising flyers, posters, and so on.
Don’t get me wrong, you should look at some outbound measures. But, you should focus just as much, if not more, of your attention on inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is proven to appeal to the modern consumer as you’re not so ‘in-your-face’ about everything. You let people find your business naturally, and this often leads to a higher conversion rate, leading to more customers.
In more traditional marketing terms, outbound marketing is push marketing – you are simply pushing your message onto anyone who you think will listen.
Whereas inbound marketing is pull marketing – you are pulling customers in with your efforts. People who are interested in what you have to offer, and they are coming to you.
Which leads me to the third reason why most small business marketing strategies fail.
Reason 3: A lack of experience
Lastly, it can all come down to experience. If you know nothing about marketing – and you don’t have a team that does – then you’re always going to struggle.
Notice, I didn’t say social media marketing, or digital marketing. I said marketing. Many businesses are hiring Administrative Assistants and handing off their marketing tasks to them. Administration has its own set of tasks and responsibilities – that have nothing to do with marketing. Yet, because digital and social media is “free” many businesses are not hiring the proper marketing personnel with expertise to perform the work. Because after all, if your Admin posts on Facebook she can certainly handle your marketing, right? Uh… no. That’s not how marketing works.
Or, if a business doesn’t have staff, they outsource their “marketing” to a Virtual Assistant. The average VA is more often than not a remote Admin Assistant – some are specialists that have an extensive skill set. However, a VA is NOT a marketer. They may do a couple of marketing tasks when given direction, but most VA’s are taking on marketing projects because of client demand, not because of their expertise. Because if a VA works online, he can certainly handle your marketing right? Uh… that’s a no again.
It’s usually a smart idea for small businesses to outsource their marketing to an agency. This way, you have access to all the experience you need, without needing to put together your own team.
At the end of the day, if your marketing strategy is falling flat, then you’ll struggle to keep your business afloat. Too many startups fail within the first two years, and a poor marketing effort is one of the main reasons for this.