Advice from 5 Marketing Experts
Small business owners are often passionate, optimistic, and have big ideas they believe will be profitable for them and beneficial for others. Often passion replaces experience and knowledge leading entrepreneurs to miss the mark on a few high-value marketing strategies. Many small businesses find it to be financially challenging to hire marketing consultants and professionals to guide their branding and marketing strategies, so I consulted 5 marketing experts to identify common small business marketing and branding mistakes and offer their best advice. Here you will be able to identify areas of improvement in your approach to marketing and receive direction on how to turn it around.
Mistake #1: Not Having A Marketing Plan
A study conducted by CoSchedule found companies that documented their marketing strategies were 313% more likely to succeed and meet their goals. Kishia Ward, owner of Opulence Marketing Group believes, “When starting your business, you always want to have a clear goal for how you plan to reach your target audience. This should be compiled in a Marketing Plan. This is an outline of the major areas you plan to engage in marketing. It should spell out who your audience is, where you can find them, what online and off-line marketing looks like for you, social media platforms you plan to build a presence on, how you want to spend on marketing, where you plan to advertise, and any influencer marketing you plan to do.”
Research by Fundera found, 17% of business failures were due to lacking a business model, 14% fail due to improper marketing, and 14% fail due to not engaging with their target audience. These outcomes can be largely be avoided by putting together a written strategy that details who to market to, what the goals are, how to best implement strategies and when, and how to analyze progress. It is important to understand that a marketing plan should be a fluid document that evolves and changes over time to best fit the needs of your growing business and adjust to the data collected from your marketing efforts. Kishia suggests, “Find examples online of marketing plans and implement one that works for your business”.
Mistake #2: Not Establishing A Brand Personality
86% of shoppers prefer supporting businesses that present an authentic and honest brand personality on social media. Tourism/Ars Marketing Consultant, Carmen Ackerman “A brand’s personality plays a crucial role in developing and maintaining a strong brand. A brand should have characteristics that reflect the business' mission and vision while also providing a persona that feels authentic and relatable to consumers. Like a human’s personality, a brand persona is both differentiating and memorable.
Regardless of an organization’s size, a brand is best defined by what patrons and visitors believe it to be. The more we can effectively communicate our businesses’ vision, the better the chance our customers’ opinions will mesh with how we want to be perceived. Taking the time to create a brand persona and aligning your communication and business strategies to reflect authentic and consistent messaging will translate into higher sales and greater consumer loyalty.”
Mistake #3: Inconsistent Branding
Some small businesses develop and implement marketing plans as best they can within their budget but fall short of keeping their branding consistent through their marketing efforts. According to Forbes, businesses with consistent branding across all platforms can see a 23% increase in revenue23% increase in revenue, according to Forbes. KeAira Chantell Gamble, Owner and Creative Director of KeAira Chantell Events, states “I think it is important for small businesses to step back and ask themselves “who is my target audience?” You must think like the people you want to attract, not just select a pretty pink color and scripted font for your logo because it looks nice. The brand voice should trigger an emotional response from your potential customers.” While I’m big on budget marketing for start-ups and small businesses, KeAira and I agree that hiring a professional to assist in the development of your logo and brand identity is extremely beneficial to the strength and effectiveness of your brand. “They will help you create brand guidelines and make sure that brand assets such as your: logo, colors, slogans, etc. are always aligned.”
Tech Marketing and Sales Coordinator, Anna-Michelle Lavandier, adds “… inconsistency can lead to a lack of brand awareness and can leave the audience/consumer confused as to what the product or service can be and, on a larger scale, who the company is and what it represents. Keep your branding online and on social media consistent to keep your intended audience from tuning out and finding their needs met somewhere else who knows who they are and what they’re about.”
Mistake #4: Not Owning Their Design Assets
Although hiring experts to mold brand identity is beneficial, FIU Marketing Professor Sarah Cherres warns, “One of the biggest challenges small businesses face is owning their assets. I’ve heard many times from small business owners and entrepreneurs that their contractors own their art files, mailing lists, social media accounts, and other valuable company resources. Businesses must have conversations and agreements in place where they have ownership of their assets, particularly if a working relationship ends.” I’ve had my share of clients come to be with inadequate files and no source files for their logos and other documents which can make it difficult to deliver high-quality products and at times result in added costs from having to recreate the files. Take a moment to clarify your needs at the start of a new business relationship and ensure that you will have full ownership rights over the content developed on your behalf.
Mistake #5: Not Having An Online Brand Presence Or Website
Establishing an online presence is extremely vital to the development of your business in this digital age. New Survey Data reported, 28% of small businesses don’t have a website. Kishia urges, “With the increased usage and accessibility of social media post-pandemic, a lot of small businesses have been able to get their start. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of businesses do not currently have a website. Whether you are showing your products or giving a list of services, a website is crucial to establishing your brand’s online identity. There should never be a business without a website; it is the foundation of your online identity. Customers still trust brands with websites more than without. Additionally, it is easy to trust brands that can be found on Google. Customers want flexibility with how they access and shop with a business. Websites can offer that flexibility along with telling your brand story, providing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) opportunities for you to rank higher on Google searches, and allows you to collect lead information organically.”
In conclusion, branding is an essential aspect of any small business that can make or break its success. Avoiding these five common branding mistakes can set your business apart from the competition and establish a strong brand identity that resonates with your target audience. By focusing on creating a clear and consistent message, utilizing your unique selling proposition, and staying engaged with your customers, you can create a successful and recognizable brand that will attract and retain customers for years to come. Remember, your brand is your business's first impression, so take the time to develop it carefully and thoughtfully.