As the saying goes, “Nobody is perfect”, everyone commits mistakes even in the world of small business marketing. However for an entrepreneur who only has small funds and resources, there’s no room for errors. Instead of committing them again and again, why not just learn from their mistakes to save time, energy, and money.Here is a list of 5 valuable small business marketing errors to stay away from:1. An Irrelevant Marketing Message. Remember, this isn’t about you. It’s about what the customers can benefit from your company or product. A lot of small businesses jump into a wrong step of focusing on themselves rather than the needs of the people. Why not identify the customer’s problem first? Then after that, make the prospect understand why the problem should be resolved at the soonest possible time and why your product is the answer to their problem.2. Ignoring the fact that marketing is all about worth. To maintain a small business, you have to sell something that’s of worth to the clients. Your business is marketing and giving value for your prospects should saturate through your selling endeavors. Keep in mind that people love to obtain more than they anticipate. What’s the way to do this? It’s by studying their needs and desires.3. Focusing on sales rather than customer education. Obvious “in your face” selling can be annoying at times. Refrain from doing so. Instead, give away more information to the customers to help them understand even more the underlying problem and why it needs to be solved. Show them your sincerity of really helping them out rather than focusing only on your business. This is an effective strategy as this establishes trust between you and the customer.4. Lack of follow-up. It’s useless to spend more time, money and effort in acquiring prospects yet failing to do follow-ups after that. If a customer shows interest in doing business with you, then it only means a trust factor already exists and a small business marketing relationship is already close to becoming a reality. Lack of follow-up will eventually lose the interest of the prospect which also means, you have lost a big part of your sales.5. Targeting the wrong prospects. It’s important to clearly identify the specific customers and specific market. Another factor to consider is who is going to purchase your product and who will utilize the service. Once you are able to do this, then you definitely are on the right track.The road to success is not smooth. It has bumps and rocky parts. Along the way, there can really be mistakes in small business marketing. However, this should not fear you. Instead, learn from it.
Distributing Marketing MaterialThe Chicago-land area has several great areas to distribute marketing material. The La Salle and Union Train Stations are great places to hand out postcards, brochures, and flyers. The great thing about distributing marketing material in these areas is that you are guaranteed to get a broader audience. People that take the train downtown to work in Chicago come from all over the state of Illinois. If you want to reach a large broad audience, handing out information at these train stations is detrimental. Millennium Park and North Beach are also very popular relaxing spots where several people gather in one place. When the weather is warm, these are also great places to hand out marketing material. Remember, handing out free material at any of these locations is legal as long as you are not selling or soliciting any product or service.DO NOT flyer parking lots or place advertisements on vehicles. First of all, businesses may call the police and you can be fined. Second, if too many of your advertisements are thrown on the ground, you or your business may be cited for littering. Finally, it is hard to win someone over to visit your business or website if you upset them by invading their personal space.Lawn SignsLawn signs are a cost-effective way to advertise your business. They are very cheap and can gain lots of exposure if marketed the right way. For example, 18 inch by 24 inch lawn signs only cost around $3.00 each and come with a 10″ x 30″ stand. Placing ten different lawn signs with your business info at major intersections (with the permission of the city of Chicago, Cook County, or state of Illinois) is sure to bring traffic to your business. If you do not have the time or effort to contact these authorities, there are other ways to use lawn signs. One possibility is contacting businesses off major streets or intersections and asking them if you can place your sign on their property for a small price. Or, you can talk to neighbors that live on busy streets or near intersections and offer them money or even better, discounts on goods or services that your business offers.DO NOT place lawn signs on un-authorized property without permission. Best case scenario you will lose a $3.00 yard sign from someone who is paid to remove them. Worst case scenario, you may be fined up to $250.00 in Chicago, IL.Trade-ShowsThere are several different trade-shows occurring each month in the Chicago-land area. Some of the most popular trade-shows are Home and Garden Expos, Home Improvement Expos, Bridal Expos, Golf Expos, and Pet Expos. It is relatively cost- effective to become a vendor at many of these shows. Prices range from $800 – $1,000 for a 10 foot x 10 foot booth to $1,500 – $1,800 for a 10 foot x 20 foot booth. Most shows are two days (Friday and Saturday), although some shows are three-day events (Friday – Sunday). The prices for these booths are for the entire show, whether it be two days or three days. You should not expect to pay more than $1,000 for a 10 foot x 10 foot booth, unless you are at the McCormick Place. Trade-shows are by far the best place to find new clients. You are able to see your customers face to face and have the opportunity to catch their undivided attention, at least for a few minutes. If you cannot sell them you product or service on the spot, you still have a chance to gather their contact information. When all other resources are exhausted, be sure to speak to ever vendor at the trade-show. It’s best to speak to every vendor the first day of the show a couple hours before the show starts. Go around to each booth when they are setting up, introduce yourself and ask them for a business card or marketing material from their company. Go around to each vendor until you collected everyone’s information.
Even though they are business owners, remember we are all consumers as well.Vehicle WrapsChances are if you own a business, you own a vehicle. Wrapping a vehicle with your company logo or information can be one of the biggest bangs for your buck when it comes to cost per impression. Cost per impression is the price that you pay for each person to view your ad. A vehicle driven on a Chicago highway will be seen by well over thousands of vehicles or more depending upon the length of time and distance the vehicle is driven. If the cost of a vehicle wrap for a standard car is two thousand dollars, which means the cost per impression over the cost of a year are pennies or even fractions of a penny per impression. The best thing about a vehicle wrap is the one-time cost. Unlike other advertising methods, in most cases, the vehicle wrap will pay for itself in less than a year. After a year, it is free advertising except for the cost of insurance and gas.a Great Idea on How to Advertise and Help People at the Same TimeSome businesses have to pinch every penny to get started and that is completely understandable. Sometimes making sacrifices now can help your business later. There are many of people in the Chicago land area that could use extra clothing. It is very cheap to print your company logo with information on a t-shirt and donate them to Goodwill, a homeless shelter, or other local charitable fund. On a more extreme note, can you image if you donated heavy jackets with your company logo to people homeless and freezing? The news stations would probably be following you up and down the Chicago streets! Of course, you realize what that could do for your business! If it is truly from the heart and money permitting, this would be a great idea to implement.Look out for Chicago Small Business Marketing – Part II Intermediate
If you are someone who has started their own small business, you have probably taught yourself how to do many things. However, you will probably reach the point where you are unable to continue helping your business grow on your own, and it is time to hire a marketer. Before you go through small business marketing consulting, read this article of the pros and cons of a business marketing consultant.Pros1. One of the most obvious pros to hiring a marketing consultant is that they are trained professionals. They have experience, education, and creativity that is an extremely good asset to your small business. If you get a good marketing consultant you will get someone who is trained to look into the buying trends, the market, what is popular, the demographics, etc., to get the best results for you.2. Another advantage is that it will pay off in the long run. If you hire a company that has a proven track record, you can be sure that you are putting your money down for a good cause. Although you may see results instantly, the marketing company will also give you weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports about how many hits your website is getting.3. The final advantage of hiring a marketing consultant is that you are given more free time to focus on other aspects of your business. There is a lot to do when you are running your own business, and saving time allows you to improve other areas of your business.Cons1. One of the biggest cons has to be money. If you are a small business you probably do not have the funds to go out and invest in a marketing company. Creating a marketing plan, advertising campaign, public relations strategies, and promotions take time which costs money. Luckily there are ways around spending too much money. You are able to hire a college grad, intern, or a freelancer, who are all much cheaper than a big business and do fairly good work.2. The final con when looking to get small business marketing consulting, is the feel that the company does not know your business like you do. You created the business which makes you feel like you know what is best for it, and that by explaining everything to the consultant you will be creating the marketing by yourself.These are just some of the pros and cons of small business marketing consulting. If you were unsure what to do when it came to hiring a marketing consultant, this article should help you to make a decision.