My partner and I have been in the marketing / advertising business for several decades now and we have seen it all when it comes to small business marketing. Here are the top 5 small business marketing pitfalls we come across most often and our suggestions for avoiding them.
1. Businesses do not own their own domain name: I have mentioned this before in previous posting but it haunts me. I deal with at least one major domain ownership problem a month and they don’t always have a pretty outcome. The worst one I experienced was when a client built a website through a freelancer who secured the domain and owned domain. When the client decided several years later to rebuild their website through Go Fetch Marketing and not the freelance designer, the freelancer refused to release the domain name to them and they eventually had to purchase a different domain that did not match their business name.
- This is an easy fix. Purchase your own domain through any register and own it for life. Domains are cheap ($10-$20 a year) and doing it yourself is worth the hassle. Domains can be purchased through various registers such as Go Daddy, Network Solutions, 1and1, etc…
- If you want to check to see if a domain is available, check out www.whois.com. This website will show you what domains are available to purchase.
2. Businesses never get artwork source files from designers: You have paid a graphic designer a lot of money to design you a logo, a brochure, a business card, or a website and you never request the designer send you the original source files for the design. I am not talking about a JPEG file of the artwork or a PDF, I mean the source files such as a EPS file or PSD file. You might not be able to open the file because you probably don’t have design software but if you ever move on to another designer, agency, or freelancer it is extremely helpful to have these source files so the new designer does not have to recreate artwork.
- Request all artwork source files on any project that involves graphic design. In our biz, once you pay for the artwork, you own it and have the rights to it.
- If a designer attempts to charge you for these files beyond the initial project, push back on them. You have technically already paid for it.
- To completely avoid this problem make sure you add to any quote that you want all source files to be provided at the end of the project.
3. Buying a hosting package that includes a free website: As the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for”. Free is sometimes good, but not in this case. If a small business owner has a zero budget for a website build, purchasing a cheap website hosting package that includes a free template website might be their only option but buyer beware, these websites are rarely dynamic or expandable and the catch is usually that the hosting provider ties you into a long term hosting contract (3 to 5 years). Additionally, when you move on to build a bigger and better website the template artwork you are using for free is not yours to take with you. The hosting providers own that artwork and you have to start from scratch.
- Do your best to scrape up the funds to build a good website with a good backend from the start. You don’t necessarily have to get all the bells and whistles on it from the start as long as it is on a dynamic /expandable platform like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal. We mostly build our clients’ websites on Word Press because it has a great CMS system (content management system) and the platform is expandable for future growth without having to completely rebuild a site. Learn more about “Why We Use WordPress“
- If all else fails and you still have zero budget make sure you understand the limitations of a free template website and the contract you might be signing.
4. A bad logo: So, we might be logo snobs but we see this problem on a daily basis. Small businesses on a tight budget skimp on their logo design and use some crappy clip artwork from the internet as their logo. Additionally, designs snagged from the internet and changed to meet your business needs are often low resolution files and look grainy or blurry on print and/or web work.
- A logo sets your brand identity and with today’s influx of marketing “noise” you need to establish the correct identity quickly and stick with it. Even if you don’t have the budget to get a nicely designed logo you can pay a freelancer a few hundred dollars to whip up a font type logo. Remember, get the artwork from them after you pay for it.
- Keep the logo simple and clean, preferrably with no more than two colors.
- Logo design prices range from a couple hundred up to thousands of dollars. Just make sure you shop the market and know what the end deliverable is when you sign the contract.
- If you have a logo idea in your head, present it to the designer. Don’t waste their time trying to guess what you might want and potentially you money for redraws. It ultimately might be a bad idea, but let the designer (the expert) be the judge of that and make suggestions.
5. Business owners managing too many marketing campaigns at once: Marketing in today’s technologically advanced world is overwhelming and confusing. Business owners often don’t know where to start. They don’t understand the basic of a good website, social media, printed sales materials, blogging, and that dreaded acronym: SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I recently started working with a small business owner who was so overwhelmed with where to start and how to do it that she could barely explain to me what campaigns or social media she had tried. It is important to map a plan of attack in the correct order and tackle one marketing issue or campaign at a time. Unless you have a large staff that can help you juggle all the marketing balls, trying to do it yourself all at once will be a waste of time and money. When I was in the corporate marketing world with large marketing departments, we did multiple campaigns all at once, but we tracked the metrics on all campaigns separately and understood the true ROI (Return on the Investment). At the end of the day, we would know if the campaign worked and if we should do it again. We would know if it drove customers to purchase our products/services.
- First and foremost, take a deep breath and relax. Remind yourself that you can do this if you have the right tools in place. Those right tools to start are as follows:
- A properly built website on a great CMS (Content Management System). You have to have the right plumbing behind the website to construct the house (pitfall #3) You can’t have good SEO or social media outreach without a good “mother ship” to direct it all to.
- A good logo design and brand identity with a matching domain name (pitfall #4)
- A basic but nicely designed business card
- A basic understanding of the different types of social media and which platforms you should attack first. Remember, as a business owner you want to be on social media as a “business” and not a “person” (e.g. Make sure your Facebook page is a business page not a personal page)
- Understand the demographics of your customers so you know which social media outlets to attack first and worry about the others later. For example, my brother is in the ATM business and most of his clients are banks. Although he has a Facebook page he focuses his social media efforts on Linked In (I think of Linked In as the Facebook for business to business marketing). If your business is something like landscaping or photography you might want to focus on Facebook and Pinterest to start. These are social media platforms where you can post great images of your product. I recently have heard that a lot of tweens are addicted to Instagram and they like to tweet or post pictures they take with Instagram on their social media pages. If your target market is tweens, check out Instagram and learn how to take photos and tag them correctly for social media.
I hope this post helps you avoid some major pitfalls that can ultimately cost a small businesses a lot of money to fix. Remember to take deep breaths and tackle each marketing item with the knowledge and foundation you need to do it right.