Small business owners think that they can do it all. Employer, marketer, accountant, janitor, I/T, you name it, a small business owner has probably done it. It’s a necessity to be a jack of all trades when you’re trying to cut costs and grow a business. Over the years, we have worked with clients of all sizes. And out of complete and utter honesty, we enjoy the challenges associated with helping small businesses grow just as much as filling a major role within a medium or large business. However, hardworking small business owners are driven by different factors compared to mid-level and top-level marketing managers at medium and large businesses. These factors can cause small business owners to make mistakes when it comes to marketing their business online. Below are 5 common online marketing mistakes that small business owners are more prone to make.
The Mistake: You’re trying to wear too many hats.
- First and foremost, small business owners can’t do it all forever. At some point, the time spent doing tasks that take away from business development cause small businesses to stop growing and level out or regress. For example, if you run a small bicycle shop in Kirkwood, Missouri, but neglect your customers by investing your time in areas outside of your expertise, you’re bound to get a flat tire. Often times, we get the response from small business owners, “I can just learn how to do my own online marketing.” This is absolutely true. Anyone can learn anything in my humble opinion. If I wanted to learn programming, I could research a starting point, then buy a textbook (I prefer paper over digital). If I were to try and learn how to do everything inside and out, I would have no time for online marketing. Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to be good at everything. I wish that weren’t the case. A lack of focus is distractive. Undivided attention that takes into consideration necessities such as marketing your business (offline and online) and development of internal efficiencies is much healthier than dividing your attention among many different areas.
The Fix: Be willing to delegate components of your business to invested partners.
The Mistake: You’re not staying educated, which leaves your business vulnerable.
- Understand what you’re getting into. If you hire an agency to manage your online marketing, then they should be expected to help you understand what their services entail. Depending upon your personality, you may want to know a lot or hardly anything about online marketing. My advice is to have at least a top-level understanding of online marketing and your goals. Retain the information that your agency sends you, be proactive, and ask questions. Part of the reason you’re hiring an agency is to have an experienced source for education, i.e. consulting.
The Fix: Be involved as much as you can. Marketing is dependent upon collaboration. You can’t expect to have a successful online marketing campaign that includes SEO, PPC, social media, content, and lead nurturing without communication, feedback, and execution.
The Mistake: You think marketing (online or offline) guarantees XX leads per month. Supply and demand, comparative shopping, and browsing exist online too.
- Understanding the components of online marketing lends itself to realism. There is a difference between setting lofty goals and unrealistic goals. Is their a fine line between the two. No. Goals in general take into account a myriad of variables, one of which is accrued data. Online marketing is founded on making decisions based on data. Without data, you’re in the dark. If you’re a small business owner who is unwilling to track online conversions-or be patient enough to accrue the data-how can you expect to make educated decisions moving forward? Marketing is an investment, not an expense. This is the true difference between someone who is driven by value and understanding compared to someone who is strictly driven by cost. There certainly is a hybrid, e.g. someone who would invest more into their monthly online marketing budget because they understand the value of driving visitors to their website. Unfortunately, they’re still very small. We understand and empathize with this particular business owner. However, your goals still need to be realistic. If you’re a small business competing against a national brand with great placement, a seemingly limitless online marketing budget, and a massive social media presence, then you certainly can’t expect to compete nationally with only a small fraction of their resources.
The Fix: Be realistic in setting your goals. Understand that certain components of online marketing take time (e.g. SEO and content), while other components have instantaneous effects on traffic flow (e.g. PPC). Marketing revolves around providing a solid product or service, presenting it effectively online (on your website), and marketing it online (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.). Remember that your actual product or service is the foundation of which marketing is built.
The Mistake: You’re not staying up to date with online marketing.
- Your product or service may be terrific, but adaptation is a necessity online. If your still telling your friends about your awesome website that was built in 2000, then you’re in need of a reboot. Today, it’s pretty easy to identify that technology is always changing. New hardware and software are being released at alarming rates. Online marketing is affected by these rapid changes. Take for instance mobile devices. Exponentially more people browse their smartphones and tablets today to interact with their friends online, shop stores, research products, find and call service companies, get directions, and more. The world is eagerly adopting mobile, which means that your online marketing requires adaptation. If you still think that Google provides 10 search results for the multitudes of desktop searchers, then refer to common mistake number 2: education. There are factors that have an effect on search placement today that weren’t in existence a year ago! Does this mean that your budget should be flexible and be ready to expand? Not necessarily, just budget accordingly. Unfortunately, online marketing agencies need to remain focused as well and can’t afford to provide an all-you-can-eat buffet of existing services and new services for $XXX per month.
The Fix: Be ready to adapt when it comes to online marketing. Within an environment that is regularly changing, it’s imperative that you rely on an experienced agency, stay educated, be realistic, and be adaptable.