Small business marketing & 4 reasons why yours may not be working

small business marketing

Why your small business marketing doesn’t work

Recently I was chatting to a small business owner at a networking function when he started telling me about some proposed changes to his business he wanted to implement. These changes went right to his business model and the result would most definitely see a churn from a percentage of his existing customer base, and quite possibly frustration from the rest, who would stay because they are too complacent to do anything else about it. Over finger food, we talked about how he needs to approach such a change and agreed that for both audiences, he would need to develop a solid marketing and communications plan and deliver it in a relevant and timely manner. He wanted to know if I could help him – of course – and went on to explain to me the bad run with ‘marketing people’ he had experienced in the past (possibly as a warning for what I was about to get myself into). I could see his frustrations, contractors, consultants and hired team members had promised him the world with regards to marketing his business but had failed to deliver. He was over it, and marketing people. However, during this rather long and complex conversation it became clear to me that the reason his small business marketing wasn’t working was not because of the people he had engaged to do it, it was because of him. So before you start casting blame at all marketing people, ask yourself if you are guilty of one of the below reasons.

4 reasons why your small business marketing doesn’t work

1. You don’t have a business plan

The number one reason any small business marketing will fail is because there is no business plan driving it; or if there is one no one else knows about it. A solid and well-communicated business plan is the backbone of a business as it lays out exactly where it should be heading and, more importantly, why. Your business plan doesn’t have to be a 1000 page tome steeped in complex business language, it can be written on a single A4 sheet of paper if you desire, but it does need to cover off some essential points.

  • The strategy – why you are in business (and no, just stating ‘to make money’ isn’t a valid reason).
  • The goals & objectives – what you are hoping to achieve with your business.
  • The market – who you are targeting, where are you targeting them and who are your competitors.
  • The financials – how will generate revenue and what you need to spend to achieve it.
  • The how – how the business will achieve all of the above across, finance, distribution, R&D, sales and marketing.

Tip: Sit down and put your business plan  on paper now. If you already have one, revisit it and update where necessary to ensure it is absolutely reflective of where your business currently is and where you want it to go.

2. You don’t have a marketing plan

It goes without saying if you don’t have a business plan, you probably don’t have a marketing plan. A well-crafted and solid small business marketing plan branches out of the business plan, as does a sales plan, distribution plan etc and puts more detail around how these functions of the business are going to work together to deliver on the overall business plan. A marketing plan covers more than just your advertising and promotions because, surprisingly to some, there is more to marketing than just advertising and social media. The marketing plan must address everything about the brand across product, pricing, positioning, packaging, people, placement and promotion to make sure your business is bundled and presented to your target audience/s in the most relevant way possible.

Tip: Invest time and/or resources in crafting a solid marketing plan for your business. If you have a business plan in place, bring a marketing consultant into the business to do most of the work for you or better still, give it to your marketing resource to do it for you. If you are confident they don’t have the skills to do this for you, then you have the wrong marketing resource in place.

3. You are not communicating well with the marketing team

As was the case with this particular business owner, he just wasn’t communicating the bigger picture to his small business marketing team. On top of that, all he had them focus on was promoting the business. The result from this approach was a marketing team who only knew half the story, and it wasn’t the important bits. He was frustrated that the marketing experts couldn’t show him direct ROI for his marketing spend, however, the problem was that he wasn’t telling them what needed to be measured, or how he was actually measuring it. A marketing team can only function effectively if it has clear insight into what they are trying to achieve. Once they know this, any marketing team worth their salary will be able to develop a strong plan and tactics to deliver on it, and more importantly report on it.

Tip: A great team is a cohesive team working toward a common goal, so make sure you communicate with your marketing resource regularly and with transparency.

4. You know better

The curse of the small business owner is acting as the ‘know it all’ across the entire business. I have met and worked with a handful of exceptionally talented and savvy business owners in my time and the common thread they all shared was the ability to identify where their skills lay and where they needed to recruit experts and professionals to guide them and the business. Unfortunately the majority of small business owners I have met and worked with are, according to themselves, the experts, rebutting any advice they either don’t understand or don’t agree with. Marketing is a skill set that extends far beyond booking the weekly radio ad, sponsoring the local footy team or posting on social media. Second guessing, overriding or completely disregarding any input from your marketing resource will, in the long-term, damage your business and more importantly the morale and confidence of your marketing resource.

Tip: Let go and lead the marketing process, don’t suffocate it.

If you need help developing or assessing your small business marketing, get in touch for an obligation free chat. We’d love to help you.

About Zena Churchill

Zena Churchill is a Director at Max & Buddy Consulting. She has worked in senior level business roles across national and multinational corporations, as well as being a small business owner. Zena is a strategic thinker and brings a practical, straight-forward approach to marketing and social media. She has a passion for training & development running practical business workshops for small business. Zena is a Certified Practising Marketer (AMI), sometimes tutors in Marketing at the University of Wollongong and is a Senior Consultant with Trinity P3.

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