Whatever your business, sticking to a consistent marketing plan is vital to your ongoing success and growth. Small business owners understand this, but inevitably struggle to achieve it. Consistently, I see four recurring problems that are holding them back from success. Happily, there are also some solutions.
Here are the four scenarios I come across when speaking with small business owners time and time again, and some clear suggestions for you to consider to get you, and your business, on track and ready for growth.
Letting Go Of Control
When you’ve started out and built a business from scratch doing everything yourself it can be difficult to let go of control and take advice from an ‘outsider’ on your own business. There comes a point, however, when this becomes necessary in several aspects of business, from financials to marketing. There comes a crunch time in the growth of your business when you simply cannot keep tabs on every aspect yourself.
Engaging someone from outside to guide the marketing direction of your business may seem like a big leap of faith, but the right person can bring fresh and exciting ideas to play and will save you time and potential mistakes.
Solution: Choosing the right suppliers who align with your business ethos and needs is crucial. If you don’t have the right people working with you, it won’t matter how many new leads you get, you won’t be able to service them. An independent marketing consultant who understands your business can source the right people, implement a marketing plan, manage the whole process and report on your activities on a regular basis so any needed adjustments can be made as your business grows.
Using Too Many Contractors/Suppliers
In the early days of a new business, it’s unlikely that you can commit to employing a full-time internal marketing team. Your only alternative is to engage a range of different contractors from web developers and marketing strategists to copywriters and social media managers to plan and execute your marketing for you.
First of all there’s the problem of finding the right suppliers, the talented and reliable people who will understand your business and have the skills that align with your needs. This can be very time-consuming and, should one supplier turn out not to be appropriate or unreliable, can lead to headaches and delays in getting projects off the ground.
Communicating consistently with a number of suppliers can also lead to problems such as duplicated work and inconsistent branding unless you put in the time to communicate clearly to each of your suppliers individually to ensure all goes smoothly.
The solution: Time spent managing suppliers is time you could spend on other aspects of your business. Hiring an independent marketing consultant specialising in the needs of small business owners to manage your suppliers for you makes a great deal of sense. They may even have a pool of excellent suppliers they can recommend and hire on your behalf. Put the time and energy into developing a clear initial brief and then you’re only communicating consistently with one person, not a whole bunch.
Not Believing Marketing Actually Works
All too often, I come across people who are cynical about marketing. After questioning them, I usually find they’ve recently run an advert or Facebook campaign, sent out an e-newsletter or paid (a lot) for a print advert and got zero results.
You simply can’t expect immediate results from one ad hoc marketing action.
Solution: To get results from your marketing you need to ensure that every single marketing touch point your potential customers experience with your brand is carefully thought out, consistent and targeted. In short, you need a plan and consistent implementation of that plan.
Develop a strong strategic plan for your marketing activity that targets your ideal customer, not a scatter gun approach that targets ‘everyone’. Sitting down and investing time in creating marketing guidelines is time well spent and will allow your suppliers to develop marketing material consistent with your brand and the message you want to convey to your customers.
Not Getting Results Quickly
Great results-focused, profitable marketing takes time. Sorry, but there’s no way out of this. You may get some quick wins where new clients flow in fast but the majority of the results are going to be seen some time down the track once your strategy and action has had time to take effect. It can be nail-biting to begin with, but the long-term results will be well worth any short-term anxiety.
Solution: Develop a clear, strategic plan, choose the right people to implement your planned activities and remember that patience is a virtue!