Mistakes Small Businesses Make
How do you judge the
effectiveness of your small business marketing efforts?
Easy...does it produce results? Great looking ads, fancy
logos and flashy web sites are worthless if they don't bring
business to your door. This list of 10 common marketing
mistakes can help you produce better results.
1. Not Having a Clearly
Do you want to fit in or stand out? In order to thrive in
today's cluttered marketplace, every business owner must be
able to clearly articulate an answer to the question, "Why
should someone do business with you rather than your
competitor?" "What makes you unique? Your answer to these
questions constitutes your Unique Selling Proposition. Do
you offer 24-hour, 7 day a week service? Do you offer the
lowest price? Do you offer a no risk guarantee? A strong USP
helps you to stand out in a crowded field.
2. Selling Features Rather
Someone once said, "No one ever bought a drill bit. Millions
of people have bought a hole" People don't buy features,
they buy benefits. They are tuned into Radio Station
W.I.I.F.M. (What's in it for me?) Tell them clearly how the
features of your product/service will help them, make their
life easier, etc.
3. Not using headlines in
You have at most a couple of seconds to grab someone's
attention when they read a newspaper, magazine etc. Using an
attention-grabbing headline ensures that the reader will
continue to read the rest of the advertisement. The headline
is an ad for the ad. Take a look at some newspaper ads.
Which ones attract your attention? You will probably find
they have utilized an effective headline.
4. Not testing headlines,
price points, packages, pitches, everything.
How do you know what ad, what price, what offer most appeals
to customers? By putting them to a vote. Test everything.
Rather than running one newspaper ad for three weeks, why
not run three different ads for three weeks and measure
which draws better? Rather than putting all your advertising
into newspaper, why not split between newspaper and direct
mail and measure the results? Why not price your
products/services at different points and see which sells
more? Is cheaper always better? Not necessarily. Each
situation is unique. One price may outperform another for a
myriad of reasons. Your job is not to know why, but to find
what works. Test, test, test.
5. Making it difficult to do
business with you.
Are your sales staff knowledgeable about your products? Does
someone answer your phone promptly and in a friendly manner?
Can people find your phone number, location? Can customers
find things easily in your store? Put yourselves in your
customer's shoes. Don't make them work-they won't. I've seen
a web site that undoubtedly cost the company thousands of
dollars and NOWHERE could I find a phone number or email
address. Your customer has better things to do than struggle
to do business with you.
6. Not finding out what your
customer's needs are.
What is the first step in filling your customer's needs?
Discovering what they are. What's most important to them?
Don't even try to guess. You may think price is most
important when what they really want is fast service. You
may believe fast service is what they want when what they
desperately want is a friendly, personal touch. How do you
find out? People won't tell you unless you ask. So ask.
7. Not maintaining an up to
date customer database.
Your customer list is pure gold. Rather than always working
to bring new customers in the door, why not take advantage
of the good will you have already built with your existing
clientele? Experiment with extending special offers to your
customer base. Ask for referrals.
Send them a card on their birthday. Call and ask what they
most enjoyed about doing business with you (or what they
disliked doing business with you). You worked hard to
develop these relationships. Recognize their value and work
hard to "re-delight" them.
8. Not eliminating the risk.
What stops a customer from buying from you? Are they unsure
that your offer is worth their hard-earned money? Make it
easy to decide to buy from you. How can you reduce their
risk? If you are in a service business, let them try your
service at no cost. If you are a lawyer or consultant offer
them a free consultation. Offer them a money back, no
questions asked guarantee on any product they buy. Why not?
Are you afraid people will take advantage of you? Give it a
try for a month. You may be very pleasantly surprised. Not
confident in your product or service? Then go to work on
improving your service.
9. Not educating your
Don't just claim that your service is better. Explain why.
Are your staff better trained? Do you utilize a technology
that increases service turnaround or quality? Don't expect
people to just take your word for things. Quality, Service
and Value mean nothing. Everyone claims to offer these. Make
these claims real for the customer by offering credible
explanations why they should do business with you.
10. Not knowing what works,
and sticking with it.
Do you know which ads are effective? What media pulls best?
What offer gets the best reaction? By testing (see above)
you will. When you find something that works, don't change
it until you find something that works better. Just because
you're sick of an ad/offer isn't a good enough reason to
change it. You can supplement with other ads and offers. If
it works, keep it.
TO PUT YOUR
BEST PUBLIC FOOT FORWARD
1. HIRE A
In ninety percent of all
cases, a person's first contact with your business or
organization will occurs when your receptionist answers
the phone. In addition, your receptionist will greet all
of your customers and clients every time they walk in
the door. Most organizations, however, look at
receptionists as the low rung on the ladder, pay the
position barely more than minimum wage, and then wonder
why they have an unending stream of bad receptionists
who create a poor firs impression. Give priority to
hiring a bright, friendly, energetic, well-mannered, and
unflappable person for the job and then pay enough to
keep that person for a long time.
YOUR RECEPTIONIST TO DIRECT PEOPLE APPROPRIATELY
You receptionist should
be more than a greeter. He/she should be able to
instantly direct clients and customers to whoever can
best serve their needs. Therefore, be sure your
receptionist is thoroughly familiar with the work that
each company member does and what types of clients or
customers each work with. In addition, your receptionist
should have a list of key referrals; i.e., personal
injury inquiries go to Jane Smith, sales inquiries go to
John Doe, etc. This will let the public know immediately
that yours is an efficient organization catering to
client and customer needs. Finally,your receptionist
should never be eating lunch or reading a magazine at
the front desk. Find other more productive tasks for the
times when the phone is not ringing.
YOUR VOICE MAIL TO A MINIMUM
While voice mail has been
a technological blessing, make no mistake about it. THE
PUBLIC HATES VOICE MAIL. Every client and customer will
tell you the same thing: each wants to talk to a real
person who can solve their problem as soon as
possible.Therefore, keep all voice mails brief and
informative. Your voice mail when your receptionist is
unavailable should only be used when your office is
closed. It should concisely state the name of your
business, your office hours, and welcome the caller to
leave a message or call back during regular business
hours. It should also give your fax number for those
wishing to send a fax. If you are using voice mail
frequently during the day, then you do not have enough
phone lines and you should make arrangements to add
additional lines. If your staff members have voice mail,
it should be changed daily and briefly state when the
staff member will be in the office and reachable. It
should also invite the caller to leave a message or
return to the operator. ALWAYS GIVE THE CALLER THE
OPTION TO SPEAK TO SOMEONE REAL. Again, this says we
care about serving you more than any voice mail message
YOUR LOBBY LOOK WELL MAINTAINED AND ATTRACTIVE:
Despite the belief of
many lawyers, doctors, and other professionals, you do
not need fancy offices with expensive furniture and art
works to impress the public. In fact, many members of
the public know that such overhead is worked into the
monthly fee and would prefer not to be paying for your
art work. A lobby needs only a few things to make a good
first impression. Make sure your furniture, including
the receptionist's area, is comfortable, attractive and
in good shape. No bright purple chairs, scratched and
dented furniture, or bizarre art. Give it good lighting.
Be sure the carpet is not overly worn and clean. Add a
few green plants and some good prints on the walls.
Magazines should be available which are informative, but
not gossipy. Time, Newsweek, Self, Sports Illustrated
are all appropriate. The National Enquirer is not.
Finally, be sure there is some literature, such as a
brochure, that tells what you do and how well you do it.
The client or customer can then learn about your
business before he/she ever shakes your hand.
5. . KEEP
YOUR HALLS CLEAN, ATTRACTIVE, AND UNCLUTTERED:
No, hallways are not
storage areas, no matter how short on space you are.
Again, be sure your carpet is clean and not well worn.
Add some inexpensive, but lovely prints to the walls.
Remember that your clients and customers will walk down
these hallways every time they see you so the hallways
are as important as the lobby space.
THAT ALL OF YOUR STAFF IN EVERY POSITION KEEP A CLEAN DESK
Your client has walked
through your attractive lobby and halls.The client now
walks into Jane Smith's office and sees a desk littered
with paper, files everywhere, and Jane has to hunt for a
pad and pen to begin taking notes on what the client
needs. Is your client impressed? No. Is your client
confident that Jane can take care of his/her needs in an
orderly and efficient manner? Absolutely not. Will your
client remember Jane's disorganization when she neglects
to adequately serve him/her? You bet. Therefore, instill
in each staff member that their office is a reflection
of the respect they accord their clients, customers, and
themselves. You r public image will not only grow, but
as a bonus, your staff will be more productive as well.
A SIMPLE STAFF DRESS CODE THAT REFLECTS YOUR SERVICE:
YOUR OFFICE A PLEASANT PLACE TO WORK:
Clients and customers
immediately sense tension in the air. Moreover, an
unhappy employee, let alone several, will never convey a
positive image for your business.Therefore, take
reasonable steps to be sure your staff both enjoys and
takes pride in their work. The president or manager
should provide the staff with positive reinforcement on
a regular basis and good work should be rewarded both
financially and emotionally for its contribution to the
company's success.These steps will produce employees who
quite naturally convey a positive image for the company
and easily attract and keep clients and customers.
LETTERHEAD SHOULD REFLECT YOUR PROFESSIONALISM:
Again, fancy is not
necessary or necessarily better. A service organization
should convey that they simply and efficiently respond
to a client's needs. Letterhead and business cards,
therefore, don't need complex logos or gold embossed
printing. Instead, use a good stationary stock. Cheap
paper will communicate that you cut corners with
quality. Then, use a standard ink color such as black,
navy, brown, or burgundy. Your letterhead must tell a
client how to reach you. It should contain your
company's name, address, phone, fax, and e-mail. If you
have a web page, your web address should appear as well.
It should say what you do; i.e., "Detail Management -
Event producers and Organizers." If you must have a
logo, keep it simple so that it does not overwhelm the
information about who you are and what you do. Have
matching envelopes. In addition, the same rules apply to
UP WITH GREAT SERVICE:
No initial public
impression lasts for long. Whether your business or
organization maintains a positive impression depends on
the service rendered to the client or customer.
Therefore, anticipate your customers needs and fulfill
them before you are asked. Add value to your service on
a regular basis. Most importantly, communicate
constantly with your clients and customers. Return phone
calls within 24 hours. Inform them when something
important has occurred which impacts the client and/or
the client's business. Think about the professional who
serves you best and emulate that service to your clients
and customers. Your clients will then augment your first
impression by their last impression: a service
organization that not only serves, but serves well. As a
result, you will find your business growing and