For small businesses, investing in marketing can help promote business growth. Here are five things every entrepreneur should be doing.
For a small company or startup, marketing can be a critical yet often neglected component of a business.
A recent survey carried out by OutboundEngine reveals 58% of owners/founders spend five hours or less on marketing per week. The report cites stress and time as major contributing factors for how much effort small business owners spend on marketing.
The report, “Stress, Time & Growth: Factors Affecting Small Business Marketing in 2019,” looks at the marketing strategies of small businesses. Marketing efforts are further compounded by how some businesses operate or the complexity of their market, distribution channel or competitors.
For small business owners who don’t have the marketing knowledge or the budget to leverage opportunities, it creates even more frustration and stress. However, marketing for a small business is critical. In the report, Marc Pickren, CEO, OutboundEngine, says marketing is a key factor in driving the growth or slowdown of a business.
What’s apparent based on this recent report is that entrepreneurs have to commit to marketing in a more disciplined way. While many small business owners may treat marketing with less importance than say accounting or supply chain management, the fact is that marketing can be done in a planned and systematic way. The key is for the entrepreneur to self-assess their knowledge and skill level of marketing, and if appropriate, create a small team that can execute the marketing tactics based on business strategy.
Here are five things every small business entrepreneur should do with respect to marketing:
1. Meet regularly every week
It does not matter how small your company is, you need to create a marketing team. Even if that team is part-time marketing freelancers or even interns, you cannot ignore your marketing in a competitive environment where customers have choices. Once you determine your marketing strategy and goals, then meet once a week for one hour and go over the marketing effort and results and adjust accordingly. Treat marketing as a systematic planned process that is mission critical to your company’s success.
2. Understand your data
Rather than make assumptions, get more data intensive. Understand the data that you are accumulating in your point-of-sale system, your social media, your accounting system and your marketing databases. If you’ve been neglecting your data, your entire marketing strategy could be flawed. While marketing seems to be more emotional than rational, successful marketing relies on data-driven decision making. If your data is inaccurate, your decisions won’t be much better. Hire an intern and learn more about what you don’t know.
3. Know your customer
This sounds so easy to say but quite a few entrepreneurs assume they know everything about their prospects and current customers. In order to validate your prospects and customers, survey them as much as you can (build email lists however possible), talk to them and shop your competitors to get additional customer insights. Also, understand the sales process and your potential customer funnel and who needs what marketing message in order to move them down the marketing funnel to a sale.
4. Create simple valuable content
It really does not matter if you are a dry cleaner, a pet kennel or a software application company, you are in a competitive marketplace. One way to stand out is to communicate with your customers and prospects from an “expert” point of view across all your media, including websites, social media, email and even at your retail location. Focus on the customer benefits and provide product or service insights. Make sure all your content, regardless of media, has a common brand look and feel and the messaging is optimized for each medium. Make sure you are active and relevant in your social media channels. Again, if you can’t do it yourself, hire a freelancer or intern.
5. Commit to email
Of all the marketing efforts you could commit to, email marketing may be the most financially rewarding. Your best customers are your current customers. Recent surveys indicate 86% of consumers still prefer email when communicating for business purposes. Long story short: email shows no signs of slowing down because of how effective it is. According to HubSpot, existing customers are easier to sell to, by a long shot. You’re 60-70% more likely to sell to an existing customer, compared to the 5-20% likelihood of selling to a new prospect. So if your company isn’t using email marketing to cross-sell and upsell to your current customers, you’re just leaving money on the table.
Marketing just does not do itself. You can’t wish you had more revenue. A good marketing effort and the sales result comes down to commitment, planning, and execution.
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