Tag Archives: Top Small Business Marketing Mistakes

10 Ways To Get Word Of Mouth Marketing

It’s not uncommon for us to get new bookkeeping clients who are relatively “new” in their business endeavors.  When we discuss their business and needs, we will often ask “What are you doing from a marketing perspective?”  When “word of mouth marketing” is their response, we often feel compelled to have a teaching moment with them.

Word of mouth marketing is not a marketing vehicle in and of itself.  It is the direct result of doing other tasks well within your business, one of which is other marketing.  This post highlights 50 ways that you can market your small business.  Shown here are the things that will help you generate that word of mouth buzz that so many businesses crave:

Provide an excellent product or service. If what you have to offer is just average, or even worse undesirable, don’t expect customers to extol your virtues.  What you sell and how you sell it, should live up to or exceed what your customers expect.  This is based on your ads, sales pitch and industry standards. If they’re happy with what they’ve bought, they will sing your praises to the heavens. Yet remember, word of mouth works two ways.  If customers are unhappy with your company, they will complain loudly and publicly about their bad experience. Don’t believe us?  Just look at this post about a poor customer service experience we had.  Which leads us to our next point…

Excel in your customer service. This post will give you several ways to be better than your competition, so we urge you to read it.  Yet a few basics to know: Be polite. Answer your customers questions as accurately and quickly as possible. Don’t keep them waiting unnecessarily. If you can do something for a customer, then do it.  If you can’t, tell them so and send them to someone who can (even a competitor).  By helping your customer solve their needs, they will remember you and send your their friends and family when they have a similar problem.

Give your customers something for FREE. People have needs that require solutions.  When they look for those solutions, they will go to the internet, call their friends or even visit your establishment.  However, there’s so much noise in the world  that it’s hard for prospects to know exactly what’s worth buying. Most people buy stuff that they have a personal connection with or that is recommended by a trusted friend.  By giving away your work (or a sample of it) you allow future customers (or readers or fans or whatever) the opportunity to hear about it, see the value in it, and then reward you for it.

Thank your customers for their business. Everyone likes to be appreciated and customers are no exception. When a customers pays you for services or a new customer signs their paperwork, why not send them a handwritten thank you card?  Doing something your competitors don’t will set you apart as a business who cares about their customers and is worth recommending.

Make you and your employees “likable” in their interactions. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, customers do business with those who they know, like and trust.  As such, make sure that when you interact with your customers, that they like dealing with you.  Be friendly; no matter how rude or angry a customer may be. Never raise your voice, be sarcastic, or speak in a demeaning way to customers.  Smile when you speak to them.  Take a genuine interest in their needs, concerns and wants.  When a customer likes dealing with you, they will like sending others to you.

Be personally visible to your market. The goal here is to not be viewed as a salesperson, but as a friend or problem-solver.  If you take the information regarding providing “free” stuff and combine it with this point, you will be seen as just that.  As such, join networking groups and industry groups that your customers join and be a regular attendee at meetings and events. Talk to people at meetings to find out what they do and what’s important to them and what challenges they face. When you can, give them tips or point them to resources they need, even if it isn’t a service that you offer.

Be Active in Social Media. A social media “share” spreads the word about your company to all the people who follow and like your information.  While you don’t need to set up an account on each, Facebook, Twitter, Linked, Pinterest, Instagram and SlideShare are all good places to start. Choose the social media channels that are most likely to reach your target customers.  Also, the easier you make it for customers and prospects to share your information and promotions, the more likely it is they will do so.  As such, consider adding the corresponding social media buttons to your website.

When people praise you, ask to use their testimonial. You can post it on your website and/or in promotional material. Their comments can help prospects “hear” good things about your company.  This is exactly why we have a testimonials page!

Make your business easy to find. Start by having a website, even if it is just a simple landing page.  Make sure that it is listed on Google, Bing and Yahoo’s business promotion sites.  If you have a location, make sure that you have singe indicating what you do, hours of operation and phone number.   If you have vehicles, make sure your name is painted/wrapped in big letters on them so anyone who sees it knows how to reach you. Leave “extra” business cards with customers so they can hand them out when a neighbor asks if they were happy with the job you did… and how to get in touch with you.

Refer business to noncompeting businesses. When you refer customers, patients or clients to others, those businesses are more likely to refer business to you.  Remember, those who give freely of themselves will receive the same in return.

Reward those who refer business to you. How you thank them will depend on the nature and what is considered ethical in your line of your business. It may be in the form of a hand-written thank you card, a coupon, a cash reward, or whatever else is practical or expected for your line of work. But the point is this; rewarding those who help you will make them feel their efforts are appreciated, which will make them be glad to recommend you to more people.

Top Small Business Marketing Mistakes

Recently we were having lunch at Columbus’ Curry, a new quick dining establishment specializing in Indian cuisine.  During this visit, we had the fortunate opportunity to meet the owner.  Turns out that they had only been open for four weeks, but they indicated that things were going well thus far.  At some point, our conversation turned to what the “most important” thing to focus on should be.  Our response?  Generating sales!

As we’ve said in previous posts, nothing happens in an organization until a sale is made and sales don’t happen without marketing.  Unfortunately, many new/fledgling small businesses often underestimate their marketing needs.  With that said, we figured we’d discuss the top marketing mistakes new business often make and how you can avoid them.

No marketing plan.  Failure to plan is like planning to fail – we’ve all heard that statement correct?  Well, if you don’t have a marketing plan, then you can rest assured that your marketing will not be is effective as it needs to be.  People often think that a marketing plan needs to be this overly complicated document that takes months to develop.  That is not the case.  A simple marketing plan can be made in short order.  Take a look at this article to see just how to put one together and what it should contain.

No marketing budget.  Equally egregious as not having a marketing plan, is not having a marketing budget.  When you start a business you may be consumed in pouring all of your dollars into research and development, product engineering, hiring staff or outfitting your headquarters.  However, if you don’t have the budget to tell your target market about your product or services, how will they find you?  “Oh, if we build it they will come” is your response?  Read the next bullet dear friend.

Having a “build it and they will come” mentality.  We’ve written about this before in our Small Business Marketing 101 post.  The key takeaway from it is that even with a highly visible location it’s EXTREMELY hard for potential customers to “see” you.  The only way to ensure that the do, is to market to them.  Furthermore, even if they know you are there, what is going to make them choose you over your competitors?  For that, we recommend that you emphasize your Unique Selling Proposition or USP in all of your marketing collateral.

Failing to “test” your marketing.  Marketing should never be viewed as a “one and done” type of activity.  The one thing that is constant in the world is change.  Thus, you must frequently look at your marketing activities, vehicles, collateral, etc. and make sure that it is working.  If it isn’t, then you need to make adjustments to it.  If you do a mailing and you get a 2% response rate, test doing a similar mailing but tweek the headline, body, mailing list, etc to see if the results change.  Keep “testing” various elements of the campaign until you get the desired result.  All of this leads us to the next point.

Not holding your marketing accountable.  If you are involved in various marketing activities, you should always hold your marketing ruthlessly accountable for revenue.  One of the first things we ask customers is how they heard of us.  Why?  We want to know which vehicle brought them to us.  We then track various metrics associated with this such as number of leads, leads converted to customers, revenue spent per customer, cost of client acquisition, etc.  If we don’t see the return on investment for a particular vehicle we either 1) test it, 2) change it or 3) abandon it.  If we get to the third, that allows us to shift those dollars to something that IS producing desired results.  The worst thing you can do is continue to pour money into something that is not generating sales.

Trying to reinvent the “Marketing” wheel.  Marketing is not hard stuff (in simplistic terms of course).  Yes, there is the need to reinvent and refresh your marketing so that it remains relevant and in sync with the times, but you don’t have to go back to the drawing board to make it yours.  In this post, we talk about 50 ways that you can market your small business.  The point?  You don’t have to start from scratch; look at the items, choose what works for you and then make it fit your business.

Continuous planning without execution.  The fear of failure is a very powerful thing.  In this post, our CEO Jared Rogers talks about getting over his fears when he struck out to head the Beverly office.  In the end he got over them and started doing things. The point is that you can be so busy preparing, organizing, and researching your marketing to prevent failure that you never get around to the actual marketing.  To combat this remember:

  1. Activity is not productivity.
  2. In order to sell a million of something, you have to sell the first ONE.

At some point you have to start your marketing and just see what happens.  Remember, mistakes are the price of entry into the world of success. A failed promotion means you have SUCCESSFULLY determined what does NOT work; and that is a invaluable tool in getting you closer to discovering what DOES work.