3 WAYS TO OVERCOME SMALL BUSINESS MARKETING CHALLENGES

 In Strategy

Last updated on June 27, 2019

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. Small businesses need to have a solid marketing strategy, so they can stay focused and not get distracted by the “shiny” stuff. There are many challenges for small businesses. I’ve seen it with CMA, as well as with the small business customers we’ve serviced.

One of the biggest marketing challenges and most obvious is running out of money. That’s why it’s smart to be conservative and only concentrate on the marketing tactics that will maximize results. Most importantly, realize that you can’t do everything all at once. A phased approach, which addresses your topline goals and objectives, is most effective.

Here are 3 ways to overcome small business marketing challenges:

1. Develop a marketing plan and measure success.

Thanks to the emergence of the digital age, there are even more mediums to market your business. With so many multimedia marketing channels, it’s imperative to harness and develop a marketing plan that includes only the tactics that will give you the biggest return on investment (ROI). Some of the top channels encompass digital marketing, content marketing, public relations, social media marketing, branding, advertising and event management.

Your marketing plan should begin with building a strong brand, which will set your business apart from its competitors. One of the top tactics to consider is email marketing, to increase your customers and sales. Why? Email marketing continues to be one of the largely preferred approaches for getting information. Since the proliferation of mobile devices, billions of people are now walking around with email in their pocket. It’s also a cost-effective way to communicate information about your product or service and get your message in front of your target audience.

I caution you to pay particular attention to detail, when building your email list. This will ensure that you’re correctly targeting your emails and not just sending them haphazardly—which is the quickest way to anger the recipient.

Most importantly, include ways to measure marketing ROI in your marketing plan, so you can determine what’s reaped successful marketing results, what hasn’t and adjust accordingly.

2. Be visible online and in the community.

Let’s start with being visible online, which is a challenge for many small businesses. According to a MarketingHub survey, which examined the biggest marketing challenges for small businesses, only 47 percent of small businesses believe their online presence is serving their business well.

Doing business in a digital world means two things:

1) You must be “found.”

2) You must be “seen.”

When prospects have a question or problem, they don’t “Ask Abbey” or go to the library. Instead, they type their problem, in five words or fewer, into a search box on Google, Bing or Yahoo and click enter. Then they expect a full screen of answers to appear.

That brings me to the second point, which is that you must be “seen,” once you’re found because people no longer seek, then search. In other words, your business must have effective marketing to make a good first impression online, in addition to being positioned as helpful and likable. There’s a reason the button on Facebook says “Like,” not “Buy.” However, the two are closely linked. People buy from people that they like.

Finally, once you are found and seen, make sure your website is user-friendly, easy to navigate, warm and approachable.

In addition to having a strong online presence, small business owners and the team need to be visible in the local community. The good news is that it can be accomplished through volunteer time, speaking at and attending local events, and/or lending your expertise. CMA cares about its local community. It’s a central part of who we are. As such, the firm has dedicated more than 3,000 hours to its community, over the past three decades, through volunteering, fundraising and offering pro bono services.

3. Hire people with shared core values and reward them.

If you’re struggling to find and retain excellent employees, something I’ve learned over the course of time is to hire and surround yourself with people that share your core values. This will ensure that they will buy into your company’s philosophy and provide excellent service to your customers.

I always say that “our product is our people.” A superior customer experience can drive positive marketing, either through word-of-mouth, lead generation or online reviews. With 91 percent of 18-34 year old consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to a recent Bright Local consumer review survey, that’s a big incentive.

Also, recognize and reward those employees that go above and beyond and who exemplify those core values. To support that philosophy, CMA implemented the “Crew Star” award. It acknowledges a team member each quarter for his or her dedication to the company’s core values, including passion, excellence and teamwork, while spreading these positive principles to the team. CMA recently announced its latest Crew Star.

One of CMA’s small business customers, First Bank, had some marketing challenges to overcome. First Bank is a New Jersey state-chartered bank with 16 full-service branches throughout New Jersey in Burlington, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset and Morris counties, as well as in Bucks and Chester counties, Pennsylvania. CMA created a marketing plan that included public relations and social media, to address the challenges.

The goal of the program was to expand brand visibility in the marketplace and support its commercial lending business, as well as growth in additional branch locations. In an industry that is challenged in differentiating one brand from the next, the bank desired to reposition itself as a “true community bank.”

CMA launched an ongoing public relations campaign, targeting regional media in business and consumer print publications and online venues. CMA also initiated press campaigns for business achievement and growth, executive recognition, volunteerism and community involvement, and events.

Results from the marketing efforts included more than 14 million impressions from local and national media, and a 42 percent stock price increase.

CMA continues to work with First Bank on re-branding, key messages and advertising.

There are many marketing challenges for small businesses. In today’s market, small businesses need to be found. That can be achieved through having a focused marketing plan, a website that represents who you are and can sell for you, as well as employing people who share your core values. Finally, be a small business that’s visible in the community, as well as can be found in five words that solve your customer’s problem.

Are you interested in learning more about how your small business can overcome its marketing challenges? Contact us today, to begin the conversation.

Christian Amato is the President of CMA, a full-service communications, marketing and association management firm, which has provided its clients with award-winning and proven results for more than 30 years. 

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