The Biggest Marketing Challenges That Threaten Small Business Owners
Small business owners face problems that are unique to their industry. Raising capital, retaining good employees and cash flow are some of the biggest obstacles to growing small business that large corporations are usually spared from. And then there is the competition in the local community that is an ever-present risk to an entrepreneur’s survival. Marketing remains one of the biggest challenges that threaten local entrepreneurs yet it is a battle that must be met with fierce tactics if one is to remain on top of the game.
The past few years have seen the internet as a serious entity in the fight for marketing strategies of businesses of all sizes, with mobile marketing on a steady upward trend in capturing consumers’ attention and ultimately, their cash. And while companies like Coke and McDonald’s have huge budgets for marketing plans and techniques, small companies have to get creative and keep up with marketing trends to beat the opponent. Surveys have found areas in marketing where the weaknesses of small business owners lie. Take a tip from them and see your sales and profit rise.
Marketing Challenges That Threaten Small Business And What To Do About Them:
Not Enough Online Presence
With most people now turning to the web instead of the phone book to search for a product or service, having a website is a must especially for small businesses. But a badly designed website that is difficult to go around in, has poor quality images and a disorganized system for information can do more harm than good. It’s good business sense to invest in a professional web design firm who can make a professional website for your business. Aside from developing a business website, they can also maintain it to keep up with the constant changes in SEO methods, security concerns and fickle buying trends and preferences of consumers. They can also evaluate which social media is appropriate for your business and create your accounts, and do other online marketing strategies as well.
The rate at which trends and technology keep evolving and changing is mind-boggling, much more so for business owners who only have cursory knowledge about IT-related matters. It is also time-consuming. While the actual cost of creating an online presence and marketing strategy is much less than putting up TV and newspaper ads, the time it takes to build them can take the owner’s focus away from the goal of nurturing the business and increasing sales and profits.
Adapting to Mobile
Mobile has been on a roll for the past year or so and there are no signs it’s abating anytime soon. Craig Bloem of LogoMix says that it’s necessary for small business to allot more of its resources to include mobile into its marketing and branding if it wants to reach consumers who are now using their smartphones and tablets more than their desktops. But local business owners have neither the time nor the knowledge to go mobile, much less set aside a budget for it. Again, hiring a professional to design your website and improve SEO for mobile is actually a matter of urgency, before you lose your customers to your competition and you don’t get new ones.
Whether you choose to have a responsive web design or a mobile-only site, there are basic rules for mobile marketing to ensure a satisfactory user experience. With a small screen, you have to choose which information would be most useful for the user and give that info priority. Give prominence to the contact section of your business, so that a potential customer who wants to get in touch can do so easily. Monitor updates to Google’s policy on ranking. The giant search engine will rank websites without a mobile presence much lower or not at all; that’s a lot of customers lost to the competition. Lastly, maintain consistency and uniformity of your site across all platforms for a worthwhile user experience.
Increase Local Awareness
A certified successful method to increase local awareness is through traditional methods. Putting up banners in strategic areas is a proven way to get people’s attention. Well-designed banners with high quality images and print defy trends and technology as an inexpensive yet effective advertising technique.
After mobile, location-based marketing is the next big thing for small business. This is significant because a big number of small businesses are brick and mortar stores that rely on the patronage of the local community and travelers passing through for their business.
Local citations are a great advertising tool for small businesses. It’s being mentioned in other web pages even without linking to your website. This creates awareness for your company and drives SEO ranking for your website and directs traffic to it since Google and Bing have taken local citations into consideration in their ranking algorithms. An important thing to remember is to make sure that information on your business is uniform throughout. Name, address and phone number (NAP) including spelling of words, should be the same in all pages you are cited in. any update should also be reflected in all other web pages.
Getting citations needs proactive steps from you. Host an event, join networking groups, donate to charity, get interviewed. These are just some of the ways to get mentioned in press releases and blogs. Get listed in local directories that are location-based or industry-based.
List your business on Yelp and TripAdvisor, the two most popular sites that publish crowd-sourced reviews. They are also used for location-based search for industries. But be sure to respond to comments about your business; explain if they put your company in a bad light and say thanks for positive comments.
Guest Author: Lolita Di