Overcoming Marketing Challenges for Your Small Business
No matter how big or small, every business deals with its fair share of marketing challenges. However, despite certain similarities in those challenges, each company has its unique struggles. HubSpot identifies nine common business challenges and points to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics that claims nearly 20% of small businesses fail by the end of their first year and 50% by the end of their fifth year.
Some significant causes for business failure include an absence of a written strategic plan, weak management, hesitation to adopt new technology, and, most importantly, poor marketing. As a small business owner, one of the most crucial things you can do for your business is to create a strong marketing foundation. Building a solid base allows you to be flexible with your marketing strategy, so you can navigate through changes in the market and ultimately grow your SMB. Understanding your challenges and aligning solutions with your business goals as well as the four core marketing pillars will help strengthen your marketing foundations and set you up for success.
The four core pillars of a strong marketing foundation are:
- Brand Identity
- Online Presence
- Email Marketing
We’ve created a worksheet you can use to evaluate your challenges based on your current business marketing state. When working through this, consider these common marketing challenges that small businesses face.
Common Marketing Challenges for Small Businesses
Every business is unique, and so are some of its challenges. Still, there are common challenges that almost every small business faces.
Lack of Marketing Strategy and Objectives
Small businesses can find creating marketing strategies and clear marketing objectives challenging. The most common reason companies find it challenging is that they don’t take the time to build their marketing from the ground up.
Solid marketing foundations play an integral part in developing strong and clear marketing strategies that drive all marketing activity. But when an organization hasn’t established the four pillars for a solid marketing foundation, it can be challenging to build a marketing strategy because nothing is holding it together. So, to have a chance at growing your business through marketing, you need to start at the beginning with a marketing foundation. From there, build your marketing strategy and design the marketing components necessary to reach your objectives.
Small Marketing Budget
Marketing can take a big chunk of your yearly budget, and as a small business, that can make things challenging. You want to invest your money in your product or service. Often, marketing falls at the very bottom of your budget. For small organizations, it is common to have the mindset that if there’s money left over, then we’ll put it toward marketing. Posting on social media will work for now. This is the first step in the wrong direction.
Another wrong direction is when businesses allocate money to marketing efforts without a solid strategy. Thinking that you need to run Google ads or purchase email lists to send out weekly emails without a clear plan may cost you a lot of money with a small return on investment (ROI). Marketing tools to manage email campaigns, social media posts, content development, and other activities can become overwhelming and expensive. There’s a wide range of features and functionality. Without a clear direction, spending too much on a tool is easy or, even worse, purchasing something you don’t even need.
A HubSpot blog explains how small businesses can create and manage a marketing budget. It reinforces what we stated earlier. It’s easy for small organizations to direct money toward marketing, but only with a “lean and concrete marketing strategy and a budget based on that strategy” will you see success according to Salesforce.
Even with a small marketing budget, it’s possible for your marketing efforts to have an impact if you have a strong marketing foundation to support your marketing strategies. Taking the time and investing in a clear direction of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there will save you money in the long run.
Lack of Time and Resources
It’s no surprise that small companies need help finding time and resources to dedicate to marketing. Small companies may have one or two people who manage marketing functions, but it may not be their only responsibility. And for a third of US small companies, the business owner handles the marketing. In a 2021 Semrush survey of SMB clients, 34% of business owners said that they manage their marketing. Almost 64% responded that finding time and resources to focus on marketing was the most important challenge that small businesses faced in 2021.
For small organizations, wearing multiple hats and performing various roles is expected, so time and resources are challenging. That’s why it’s common for owners to spend more time on day-to-day issues instead of strategic planning for growing the organization. But when you think of marketing, it’s easy for your mind to start racing because there are so many different facets of marketing. Where should you focus your attention? This is where things can snowball; before you know it, you’ve spent a lot of time and resources with few results. Without a solid marketing strategy, you may spend a lot of time planning and executing with only minimal return.
Your local marketing consulting firm or marketing agency can provide a marketing audit and analysis and recommend effective marketing strategies to push your company forward.
Without a clear direction for your company’s strategic growth or its marketing strategy, it’s hard to determine marketing messages and who your audience is for your products. Brand identity is one of the four marketing pillars we’ve identified as contributing to a strong foundation. When you haven’t fully developed your brand, then that can lead to distrust with your customers and prospects.
Without a defined voice for your messages, or defined colors, values, or audience for your brand, your marketing can be confusing, and you’ll lose trust with customers and prospective customers. Having consistent marketing campaigns across all areas of your brand is critical for your success.
Developing content can be challenging for small companies for several reasons, including a lack of time, knowledge, and resources. Good, effective content comes from knowing who your customers are, what information they need, and how to create the content. There are several objectives for creating content, including being relevant for online searches, attracting new customers, and building trust. Of course, the ultimate objective for everything you do is to increase revenue.
Your marketing content should help educate potential customers instead of selling your product. Leave that to your sales team.
When people go online to search, they’re looking for general information or a solution to a problem. So, by providing relevant information, your content will end up in front of the right audience at the right time. Every piece of content you create should be strategic. Otherwise, you’re wasting valuable time creating something without a significant impact. A clear marketing strategy will help you establish what type of content you need and where you should promote it.
Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms
An online presence is one of the four pillars of creating a solid marketing foundation. Social media platforms are part of an online presence that can help build brand awareness, develop customer relationships, and even generate revenue if you have the right product. Choosing the proper outlet for your marketing campaigns is vital for reaching and engaging customers.
According to HubSpot Social Media Marketing Report 2022, Facebook is the most widely used platform with the best quality leads. Knowing which platform will work best for reaching a particular target audience group is challenging because not all social media is the same. Selecting the right platform for your message and audience is important because social media marketing takes a lot of time. And you don’t have much time to waste on activities that don’t provide results.
While lead generation is a vital element for the success of any company, 58% of company owners consider it a primary challenge. For small businesses, the challenge in lead generation is the number of leads and quality of leads. Lead-generating and management tools such as marketing automation platforms and CRM systems can seem as though it’s too much for small businesses. However, CRM and email marketing are two foundation pillars for small businesses to continue growing.
A CRM tool eliminates the manual tracking of customers and information. It allows you to pull leads from multiple sources and track them through your sales and marketing funnel. Knowing where a lead is in your funnel provides a wealth of information so you can provide them with effective marketing and a great experience with your company.
An email marketing tool that can be an extension of a CRM system allows you to automate and track customer and prospective customer communication and engagement with your organization.
A marketing agency can be a valuable resource for recommending and helping you set up, manage, and use a cloud CRM and email system.
Unrealistic Expectations of Fast Results
You are not going to see overnight results from marketing. It’s just that simple. Marketing takes time. It takes time to build an audience, time to build trust, and time to build loyalty. You may see initial results from a marketing campaign or an email that goes out, but remember that your marketing activities need to be designed for specific objectives long term growth.
It’s essential to define what your success looks like before anything is executed, and it’s also important to have the tools to collect and measure the results. Your marketing strategy should allow you to maneuver as the market changes. This means evaluating your marketing activities and results need to happen regularly, but measuring overall success takes time.
Retaining a customer is challenging for all organizations, regardless of their size. Acquiring new customers takes a lot of effort, dedication, and time, so it’s essential to keep them once you get them. Converting visitors into potential customers and turning them into loyal brand customers is part of the marketing journey. And keeping customers is more affordable than acquiring new ones.
So why is retaining customers such a challenge for small businesses? First, you’re working with a small customer base, so losing just a few customers impacts you more than it would a larger organization. Relationship management plays a crucial role in retaining customers, but you must have the resources to manage the relationships. Automated marketing platforms allow you to personalize communication with customers, can communicate with them when the time is right.
Suppose your company operates with annual renewals for service. In that case, managing renewals from a spreadsheet or some other manual process can be difficult, if not detrimental. With automated marketing platforms, you can automate the renewal process assuring customers that you are watching out for them and teaching them to trust you.
Small businesses face many marketing obstacles because they are limited in money, time, and resources. But there are ways to overcome many of those challenges by building a strong marketing foundation and developing a comprehensive, solid marketing strategy that will adjust to changes and challenges. Local marketing firms like ours help small businesses evaluate their current marketing environment to see opportunities for improvement and future growth.
Tomato Fish Is An Indianapolis Consulting Company Focused On Helping Small And Midsize Businesses Make Good Strategic Planning Decisions.