Small businesses that are naturally successful at marketing (or naturally marketable) like to preach their strategies as if they were the law. They make marketing look easy and relatively inexpensive. As long as you put enough effort into a select few strategies, their message seems to say, you’ll grow your business in no time. But blindly obeying what’s popular will eventually reveal one of the biggest frustrations about small business marketing: What works brilliantly for one business could very well fail miserably for another. This suggests that, if there were actual laws to marketing, number one would likely be that all the hype in the world doesn’t mean something is universally reliable.
There’s no guarantee that following the path of your largest competitors won’t work for you. What’s nearly certain, however, is that you’ll end up disappointed if this path is the only one you follow.
1. Relying Solely On Organic Reach
Much of the hype surrounding social media stems from the fact that you don’t technically need to spend money to reach and/or build your target audience. Yes, some companies have managed to do both for little or no money but the likelihood of your company having the same luck is getting smaller and smaller. Various platforms are just growing too quickly for you to rely solely on organic reach, or even social media in general. Years ago, it might have been possible to reach a substantial amount of people by simply maintaining active accounts, i.e. regularly posting about new releases, promotions or changes in your industry and then tagging a lot of people in the posts. But in 2018, this strategy is nowhere near as effective as paid ads.
The new challenge with social media is finding the right mix of organic and paid advertising, which is no easy feat. You might not have to spend as much year after year but odds are, you’re going to have to spend a considerable amount just to find the mix that works for you.
2. Automatically Adding Customers To Your Communities
Whether it’s online or in-person, you’ve probably noticed that more and more small businesses are taking advantage of their customers’ personal information. Many small businesses obtain this information from the get-go while others might offer a discount or membership to a loyal program in exchange for their email address. The customer doesn’t always know he or she is being added to a community. Some people don’t mind being added against their will, possibly because they know that their local gym, auto dealer, or beauty spa already has this information. They won’t get annoyed by weekly emails or social media tags. But that doesn’t apply to everyone.
You only get one chance to make a first impression, and there’s a chance that your new customers will get annoyed by a barrage of emails they did not sign up for. It might be better for you to give them the option of joining your email and social media communities by explaining the benefits of doing so.
3. Getting Caught Up In New Trends
Small businesses that claim to have it all figured out when it comes to marketing are constantly reminding you what is “in” and “out.” This might make sense if the subjects didn’t appear to change every month. You’ve just learned how to correctly use Facebook, but according to your more “innovative” competitors, the real moneymaker is Snapchat. At least, until tomorrow, when live video tutorials take its place. One thing is for sure: You will never have to worry about a shortage of marketing tools. But the constant emergence of new ideas can be quite overwhelming and intimidating. Are you supposed to invest in a new marketing tool every three months?
Just like growth in general, your marketing strategy will not work without a clear, laid out plan. Forget what could come out in the future and build your plan around the shape your business is in right now.
4. Dismissing Small Business Loans
Paid ads on social media are expensive, and the average small business owner likely does not have the time to navigate all these different tools or develop a comprehensive strategy. The idea of taking out small business loans to invest in marketing might not have been included in your original business plan but what if that small business loan carried terms that could let you work on a new product or service or give your business a massive makeover as the campaign is being developed? Alternative business financing companies like United Capital Source offer several types of small business loans that can be accessed in less than two business days and do not feature the fixed, monthly payments or due dates of traditional bank loans.
With a standard working capital loan or business line of credit, you could hire an in-house social engagement specialist or outsource a digital marketing team but not have to pay off the majority of the debt until you build sales. By this time, your new hire will have begun directly contributing to your revenue stream and whatever changes you made to other elements of your business will be near completion. A major advantage of a business line of credit is having all the time and freedom to do whatever you can to increase revenue before your largest payments are processed.
One Step At A Time
It doesn’t matter how good you are what you do: you won’t make money if no one sees the results of your hard work. Accepting this will help you accept the need to be realistic about marketing costs. At United Capital Source, we understand being hesitant about investing in something you aren’t familiar with. This is why we sometimes recommend a smaller loan that is very easy to pay back because you will likely become eligible for a larger amount that can be accessed shortly after. Working with UCS will help you not only become better at developing a marketing campaign but financing it as well.