As an entrepreneur, it can be difficult to balance all the separate needs of your business, especially when it comes to marketing.
On the surface, writing a few blog posts and Facebook statuses looks like it should be an easy task, but there is a reason why there's an entire specialized writing field for digital marketing—it's not as easy as it looks.
Today, let's look at some ways that a business owner might think that they're doing the right thing for their business's success, but in fact be harming their long-term reputation and success, potentially ruining their business.
Related Article: The Top 10 Qualities That Define An Entrepreneur
1. Do you have an endless list of marketing to-dos?
To-do lists keep us organized, help us remember important tasks and when used carefully, can be inspirational reminders of what we've done, how far we've come and where we need to go next. But if your to-do list is constantly growing, and not much is getting crossed off, then you run the risk of overwhelming yourself.
When it comes to marketing, if your day is an endless round of checking Facebook, Yelp, Twitter and your company's external email address, you as the business owner aren't doing your job of actually running your company.
Instead: Considering outsourcing your content creation, your response creation or even your entire online brand and marketing. The process can be done in a variety of ways:
- Create an editorial calendar and hire contractors to create content for you.
- Hire a virtual assistant that you train to respond to customer concerns and issues.
- Hand the entire bundle off to a company with expertise in this area.
However you choose to proceed, you get the entire mess off your desk, and into the hands of an expert. Plus, this gives you practice delegating.
Related Article: Work Smarter, Not Harder: Tools to Help You Delegate
2. Are you spending every cent of your marketing budget?
If the answer is yes, you need to be very carefully tracking the ads and paid content that you're using, to make sure that you're seeing the return on investment (ROI) that you expect. If you're not, you need to start looking at why. Are you missing your market? Are you pushing to the wrong customers? Is your story not lining up with your customer's pain point?
Margarita Hakobyan advises, “Rather than buying every promoted post that social media suggests, consider what free marketing opportunities exist. Rather than Facebook being your vehicle for connecting with your customers, for example, it might be time to create a website where customers can subscribe to your newsletter, and get (content heavy, non-spammy, interesting) information on a regular basis. “
3. Are you blanketing the entire world with your ad?
Fortune 500 Company tactics don't necessarily apply to startups.Yes, in the early days, it's tempting to dream that everyone in the world will want your amazing new product, but the most successful startups have precisely targeted customer profiles. Covering the Internet with your message, sometimes called "casting a wide net," isn't helpful if you're not getting click-throughs and purchases.
Instead: Drill down on your customer's profile and pain points until they're as specific as possible. You're not just marketing to a mom, you're marketing to the mother of a 3-4 year old who used to baby wear, responds to the message of "crunchy" parenting, but works out of the home.
Once you know these things, you can determine the niches where this customer spends their time, and advertise there. You can create content that will be interesting to this person, and build engagement.
4. Do you respond to every single comment on your profile?
This is a delicate area, and not everyone agrees, but when you see reviews of your business on areas like Yelp, it can be tempting to respond quickly to every single comment, negative or positive. Ultimately, this can be a big time-waster, especially if you're trying to capitulate to negative customers. If you respond to every positive comment with a generic "thanks for coming in, [name]," you look like a boring hack, and there's probably nothing worse you can do for your business than get into a public fight with a customer on social media.
Instead: Target your responses just as precisely as you did your customer profile. Responding to positive comments probably doesn't help if you're not able to say something personal.
However, if you do remember the customer in question, and can make a personal comment (appropriate for the public space) such as "It was so great to see you today, Helen; thanks for chatting with me about that author, I can't wait to read her next book!" you will both show that customer that you were engaged and interested in your transaction with them, and show future customers that you can be counted on to care.
For negative responses, no matter how upset you are, or unjustified you feel the review or comments are, the risks to responding in that tone online are huge. You're better off apologizing to the customer for their experience, and if warranted, inviting them to either come in and discuss the situation with you, or offer to message them your phone number so the two of you can talk. Do not get into a back and forth with customers. Just don't do it.
5. Does the experience live up to the marketing?
If you're doing everything right, but your business is still faltering, consider whether or not the customer experience lives up to the marketing. If your staff are rude or poorly trained, there's no amount of content strategy or promoted Facebook posting that will make up for it, and you will lose customers and may even start alienating the loyal ones.
There's a reason why the Internet age contains marketing experts. There's no harm in using them, whether it's for a brief consultation or a more involved hand-off--but the harm to not using them can be huge for your business.