Marketing is much more than advertising to find new clients. In fact, even thinking in these terms is the wrong way to look at it.
In most small businesses, the owners are the primary income earners. Not only are they responsible for developing marketing strategies and advertising promotions, they are also responsible for doing their fair share, or more, of the work that comes in when the advertising succeeds.
Therein lies the problem
This situation creates a conflict of priorities that keeps the business revenue fluctuating around a fixed level. When you get too busy to spend time working on your business and working on marketing, your efforts become directed to making sure clients are serviced and that the work gets done. This redirection of your focus means that you curb the effort you need to put into marketing and consequently the workloads tend to slow down. Marketing becomes one of the reactive tasks that get your attention when you have time for it.
Advertising decisions in most SMEs (small to medium enterprises) are often determined reactively, depending on how busy things are. There is no defined marketing plan. Advertising is initiated when sales slow and paused when sales pick up. Advertising is usually tactical rather than strategic. This endless reactive cycle just tends to keep the business operating around the same level of sales – survival level.
The second critical business mistake – reactive marketing
Most business owners tend to operate reactively when it comes to marketing and often use price as the main competitive element. This often creates a chain reaction with competitors, which ends up damaging everyone’s profits and cash flow.
It is no surprise that this is the case. Most business owners have considerable expertise in their profession or industry field. You have put all your effort into becoming a great designer, florist, mortgage broker, or whatever your field is, and your focus has been on providing an extraordinary service that people will tell their friends about. Your business has grown, mainly on the basis of the referrals you have been given by your satisfied clients. But somehow, it isn’t enough.
It is often difficult to make ends meet when times are slow. Especially when the business just down the road offers great service too, and they offer cheaper prices.
Many established business owners have never been taught about marketing in the digital age. What you know about marketing mostly comes from what you had to do when you started out. But now times have changed. Hardly anyone reads a newspaper anymore. Now it’s all about Google and Facebook.
Marketing and advertising all too often seem to be just the same as gambling. You spend your money and hope to get a result, but there is no knowing if your ads will attract any new clients and whether your investment will be a total waste.
Marketing is about communicating to the market the distinctive reasons why your products or service should be the logical choice for potential clients, compared to competitive offerings. Business owners often find it difficult to describe why their business is a better choice than their competitors in the first place, so it’s no wonder they often do a poor job of communicating their competitive advantage consistently. The lack of ability and effort in communicating competitive advantages leads to the focus on competing on price.
So, what’s the answer?
Top businesses work on creating their own value superiority. First they determine their company’s strategic advantages over the competition and then they proactively communicate the value of those advantages to the market according to a structured marketing plan. More often than not, this style of strategic marketing allows them to sell at higher prices than competitors because they focus on what customers really value.
Having a planned, strategic approach to marketing also means they have done the work to determine who is their ideal client and how best to communicate with them about the challenges and solutions that are specific and relevant to them in a way that is welcomed by the recipient. It also means they don’t forget about the value of having regular communication with existing clients and developing methods to provide them a service they love.
Marketing is much more than advertising to find new clients. In fact, even thinking in terms of finding new clients is the wrong way to look at it. The real key is to work on developing a systematic approach to communicating your value to clients in a way that attracts the ones you want most and keeps them coming back regularly, as well as bringing their friends. A reactive approach to marketing will never achieve that.
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