Most Small Businesses Will Never Be Great at Marketing. Read Why

Most Small Businesses Will Never Be Great At Marketing | Kathy Ennis | LittlePiggy

OK, so here’s the ‘science’ bit. The thing that most small and micro businesses are doing that they call ‘marketing’ isn’t marketing at all; it’s promotion. And promotion is one tiddly, tiny (incredibly important) bit of marketing.

Marketing is a whole bunch of stuff; it’s all the things you need to make sure that you are offering the right product, to the right people, at the right price so that they really want to buy it from you.

Here are 10 reasons why most small and micro businesses will never be great at marketing. Do any of them apply to you?

1) They take lots of action, but they don’t plan

Planning is boring, planning is time consuming, plans are written and then filed in a drawer never to see the light of day, plans are only necessary if you’re going out to finance, planning stops ‘doing’, things always go wrong so planning is a waste of effort.

Any of these resonate?

If you ever feel out of control, that you are working really hard but can’t see any positive outcomes, the ‘to do’ list never seems to end or you’re not as successful as you should be for the amount of time and energy you put into your business – I bet you don’t have a plan.

A plan for your business (notice I didn’t write Business Plan) is a necessity; not an option. It’s the thing that tells you what you are doing, why you are doing it, who you are doing it for, how much all of that will cost and how you will know if it’s working.

If you haven’t got something like that your business probably isn’t working and if you keep doing what you’re doing in the way you are doing it, you will fail.

2) Their business model is ‘fake’

“That ‘guru’ is doing it like this, so if I do it too I’ll be as successful as they are.”

The answer is to model, not to copy.

If you copy, the business you create will be a watered-down, wishy-washy version of the original and, in all likelihood, will not provide consistent, repeat profitable income or allow you to achieve your true potential.

However, if you model your business on a successful business – by researching and gaining insight into what do they do well, where the gaps are in their offer, how you would approach solving a particular problem or how you would go about offering those products or services – you are able to incorporate their elements of success into something specific and unique to you. 

3) They don’t know their audience

If you don’t understand your customers, you might as well do nothing. You have to KNOW who they are.

You need to understand the hearts, minds and behaviours of your target audience. And you need to know this before you start your promotional marketing. When you know who these people are it’s so much easier to know what to say to them, how to say it, and where to say it.

4) They don’t nurture their customers

Spending time seeking out new customers, rather than nurturing the ones you already have, is crazy.

For one reason, it’s massively time-consuming; for another it’s incredibly expensive. In fact, it’s seven times more expensive to bring on a new customer than it is to get a past customer to buy again.

Get to know the people who are buying from your now. Make them your priority. The stats say that the top 20% of your customers probably account for at least half your income. If you don’t look after them, that’s money you are leaving on the table. 

5) Their pricing is wrong

 The right product to the right people at the right price.

Pricing is not about what you want to earn – that’s turnover. What you charge is about what the market will bear, i.e., what is your target audience prepared to pay or how much does your target audience already pay.

You then have to communicate what makes your products better, different, more unique than everything else out there – that’s marketing.

Just because you think you have the greatest thing since sliced bread – if your target customers don’t – you’re not going to be able to sell it to them. 

6) They don’t spend money

Whatever business you are in, marketing is your business. And marketing costs money.

However good, unique, quirky or functional your business is, people will not flock to you with cash in their hands, clamouring for your products. You have to provide them with a way of getting to know you, to like you and to trust you before they will even consider buying from you.

This means you have to plan what you will be doing to allow the KNOW – LIKE – TRUST – BUY cycle to happen. It also means you will have to set a budget because, however many free tools are available, there are always costs.

The reason most small and micro business find marketing so hard is because it’s a full-time job. If you can’t do it – time or skills – then you need to pay someone who is.

7) They believe social media is “the answer”

There is anobsession with social media. It’s as if the hundreds of methods of engaging with customers that served business for many years are now totally irrelevant. They’re not.

Social media is great, but it should be part of a wider – planned – marketing strategy. Too many small businesses dive in with no better strategy than to “build a following.”

That worked in the early days, but not anymore. The forerunner of change is Facebook. In the beginning, Facebook’s reach was high and businesses were able to grow massive followings with a little time and effort. But with Facebook’s constantly changing algorithms, and the move to prioritised paid-for content, only a tiny fraction of followers will ever see your content in their News Feeds.

And with Facebook’s success in prioritising paid-for over organic reach, it will not be long before all the other platforms follow suit.

Should you be using Facebook advertising? I definitely think you should – but only once you know how. In the meantime, I would recommend you start utilising your social media platforms to encourage your followers to join you email list so that you can communicate relevant, interesting information to them directly. 

8) They don’t measure

If you don’t know what’s working how will you know where to spend your time and your money?

The real positive of using online promotional tools like a website is that there are simple, analytical tools, such as Google Analytics. But even if you are using Networking as a promotional activity you can create a simple document or spreadsheet that will allow you to record the number of referrals you receive and the amount of revenue they generate.

On the subject of Google Analytics; if you’ve got it on your website, but you don’t know how to use it, why not take some time to learn via Google’s free online Analytics Academy 

9) They are doing too much

You’ve got limited resources, particularly in terms of time and money.

You can’t do it all. You can’t be on every social platform, publish content everywhere, or try every shiny marketing trick that comes along – and deliver your products and services.

Focus on getting to know your audience. Use the social media platforms, websites and marketing tools they use. But make sure it’s consistent. It’s far better to do a little regularly than to do a lot infrequently. 

10) They promote, but they don’t campaign

Is what you are doing marketing? Is it promotion? Or is it just chatter.

Being ‘out there’ is not marketing. Think of all the things I have written in this article – planning, knowing your audience, know how and where to reach your audience, measuring your impact – this is marketing. And part of that mix in Campaigning.

This is the process of identifying a particular goal, and implementing a series of activities over a time period that will achieve the desired outcome. If you want to know more about creating marketing campaigns read my blog: You Need to Stop Marketing and Start a Marketing Campaign

If you want your small or micro business to be successful, don’t spend another minute wasting money, time and energy on doing things that won’t work. If you can’t do it on your own, find someone that can guide you through the mine field of planning and marketing. They will help you to achieve what you want, earn the money you need, and enable you to make the progress you long to.


Kathy Ennis

I mentor dynamic, action-taking micro business owners who are not making the profit they deserve or dream of. I help them transform their good ideas into a successful business. I enable them to create simple, sensible, achievable business plans and engagement marketing strategies that turn their passion into profit.

  • Susan says:

    Good advice. I’m SURE none of it applies to me 🙂

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