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What are some marketing problems small business owners have to deal with?

Discussion in 'Marketing and Promotion' started by 111kg, Oct 15, 2015.

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  1. 111kg

    111kg Member

    In my experience, people often rely on marketing agencies to run the ads for them. They often gain exposure, but no real clients and can't possibly know what works and what doesn't.

    There are also business owners that are terribly introverted and therefore they choose to run small marketing campaigns, because they don't want to burn bridges with their competitors, which is pretty stupid in my opinion.

    What other problems of this type are you aware of?
    Bruno Moreira-Guedes likes this.
  2. Cleveland76

    Cleveland76 Member

    In terms of pay per click and SEO, I would say that financial constraints are a huge burden. SEO and PPC are two things you really need people to be hands on managing, on a daily basis. But for many small business owners, they typically don't have the time and/or skill set to do it themselves, and they don't have the budget to hire someone to do it for them properly.

    If you're paying someone $250 a month for "SEO" or to manage some PPC campaigns for you - you get what you pay for, which is next to nothing. That much money is only going to afford you a handful of hours worth of work per month max.

    Thankfully, AdWords has at least started offering a more simplified version of their platform for small business owners, which tries to automatically optimize their bids and spending for them. They still need to be somewhat hands on to get things set up initially though.

    The other challenge with smaller budgets for SEO and PPC, is it's really hard to build up enough data to do any sort of realistic analysis on how they are performing, since the traffic is so thin/limited. You can't really do any A/B testing on your pages, for example, if you're only getting like 100 clicks a month currently. You can't really make any bid decisions on your PPC keywords, if most of them which have gotten any clicks so far, have only had one or two clicks max.

    Another issue is getting the client to provide content for their site. Otherwise their sites end up looking sparse and uninformative. They need to be publishing engaging articles/posts about their industry on a regular basis, they need to write up information about their company, details about the services/products they provide, company history and mission statements, etc... If they don't, then their site is only a handful of pages, ultimately becomes a ghost town, and then they wonder why it's not ranking for anything. Because in Google's eyes, it's essentially dead and outdated.
  3. Lori Boxer

    Lori Boxer Guest

    In my opinion, the last paragraph of Cleveland76's comments hits it on the head: content. It doesn't matter how much money you have to spend on a marketing or pr agency or even a social media expert, your web site has to be ever-evolving with new, fresh ORIGINAL content. Just populating your site's pages with 'key words' won't do it. If someone has limited funds, they should be put towards a good web site and CMS that they can operate themselves. Your web site is the foundation on top of which everything else will be built; it's your persona, it's your image. If that's where you want to drive traffic, what do you want people to see when they get there? Then, build it! Start on a methodical, consistent basis (for example, once a week) to write original content that relates to your business. Write as you would speak to a client, for example. What stories/case studies can you tell? Using the products you sell or services you provide, how have you helped someone in the previous week? How did you change someone's really bad situation into a happy one? What problem did a customer encounter that you fixed, and what was their reaction? Reach out to clients and ask them to give you a testimonial (even if, perhaps, you may be in a field of service where you may have to change their name for confidentiality purposes). All that original content can then be re-purposed throughout all the various social channels (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.), always linking back to your web site.

    Make sure you have a professional, from top to bottom, LinkedIn profile. The blogs you create for your site should be published at LinkedIn (their publishing platform is for publishing---not for advertising. Use that platform correctly.) All published content at LinkedIn becomes a part of your profile. Again, if you have a LinkedIn profile, what do you want other professionals at LinkedIn to see when they visit your profile to see whether or not they want to connect with you? Then, build that!

    It's your original content that has to be the focus, in my opinion. And that takes time, and just like anything else you want to achieve--whether in life or in business--you need a strategic plan. It can't be done willy-nilly, just throwing different shit against the wall to see what will stick. Have a goal, set the plan, follow-through. In a year from now, you'll wish you had begun today.
  4. DonWhitley

    DonWhitley Member

    Its funding! I feel that funding is one big problem. Even if you have proper funds, a proper plan is something everyone lacks. I am talking this out of personal experience. I had a tough time marketing my gaming keyboard. It tool 7 years for me to get a deal cracked. I had to keep changing my product spec and design all alone. I had no help. 2 years back I got help from a product development company based in USA. They helped me redesign the whole keyboard and I had a very good mentor from their side. Its basically a push which everyone wants! A push can make a lot of difference. I am not saying that you should go to a company. I just wanted to say that, you may have everything and still fail! It's about the confidence in yourself. I guess, everyone will have the same thing to say to all upcoming entrepreneurs.
    Bruno Moreira-Guedes likes this.
  5. xeylonfm

    xeylonfm Member

    SMEs face a problem of budget and branding. These two factors are the same that ensure large and magnanimous business remain at the top, then there is a gap and then SMEs follow at a distant. Large business communicate to customers with authority in their brand as well as the authority in their budget, how much they are willing to pay to stay popular because they are running a fraction of their budgets with high expenses…kind of like buying a king a new castle yet he owns the land! If you have walked through AdWords then you will realize that some key words have a price tag of up to $10 per click and even more. Who the hell pays for such? Yeah, the larger business and they are willing to pay more because these ads have the highest exposure and best targeting configuration. So the SMEs are disadvantaged right from the start in terms of budget and branding. However strategic SMEs go social media to build popularity and strengthen their branding and use high targeting to reach out to their prospects. This would ensure higher ROI even if they are spending less for the exposure.
  6. T J Tutor

    T J Tutor Member

    I have to say that your title reflects a very common problem in the small business community. You have asked "What are some marketing problems small business owners have to deal with?" . Most successful entrepreneurs have learned this is not a fruitful, or beneficial, style of question in which to engage. The entrepreneur will ask "Where are the challenges in this business? What improvements can be made and what new elements can be added to increase brand and performance?".

    The challenges that small businesses have with marketing today are largely split between learning to do it internally as a business owner (possibly training someone), and hiring someone with the skills (or outsource it). Now, for a small business today, any and all challenges can be met very nicely through outsourcing. All a business owner really must possess is the ability to properly vet the prospects for the work. Most all marketing challenges for today's small business can be met in this fashion with great reliability and results.
    David_Wu and Bonsco like this.
  7. Bonsco

    Bonsco Member

    If you focus on problems you will keep getting them! Collaboration with others who have similar interests. Letting go of the things you don't Love to do!
    Become an expert in your field, and you will find those who have different skills which they love. Working with other IS the only way to accomplish great things in any area of life.
    T J Tutor likes this.
  8. @RetoWolf

    @RetoWolf Member

    G'day everyone

    For me the common mistake when it comes to marketing is that a lot of business owners often jump to execution mode right away. This then leads to a - rather costly - hit-and-hope marketing strategy. You spend money on marketing initiatives and hope you see results. What we often skip is answering the 3 key marketing questions BEFORE we spend $$$. The 3 questions in my mind are:
    1. What Problem do you solve? (80% of businesses fail not least because there was no market opportunity to begin with! If you solve someone's problem they will be happy to pay you)
    2. For whom are you solving this problem? (The key here is to define your target audience and less is definitely more in the beginning! The more narrow you can be, the more specific you can talk to them. You will also be in a much better position to address the problem you are solving for whom this matters the most. We often make the mistake at trying to appeal to everyone. But unless you've got unlimited funds Jack of all trade and master of none is marketing suicide!)
    3. How are you solving this problem better than anyone else? (Unique selling propositions are a very rare thing these days. If you've got one - well done! But even then within a few months typically your competition has caught up. Once your product/service has been commoditized you have to win on superior customer experience! So do your research and find out what it takes to be better than your competitors)
    I'm interested to hear what other people think.
    jc banks likes this.
  9. Goldstandard89

    Goldstandard89 Member

    I have used Fiverr to increase the people on my Twitter and Facebook. Both of those sites are great for promoting you products for free and in a very personal, timely manner. I'm a fan of using free social networking sites to get people to know about my new products or sells. Think of followers as another form of a list that you need to build up.
  10. Vinaya.Ghimire

    Vinaya.Ghimire Member

    I am a small business owner. Some of the problems related to marketing that I am facing are:
    Budget: I have a small budget thus, I am unable to promote my product as much as I want.
    Customers: For a small business, it is really difficult to find customers. It is difficult to make them understand that you are offering a better product and service.
  11. ReadmeByAmy

    ReadmeByAmy Member

    Small businesses had limited capital outlay that is why they are having a hard time to expand the scope of the marketing aspect of their business. And one thing since they still don't have established clients and customers that will refer or build them up it is hard for them to get the right customers for their business who will patronize their products and services.
  12. Kathryn M.

    Kathryn M. Member

    Once social media came out, and more and more people and businesses started to use it, I started using it in my business for marketing as well.

    I do most of my marketing on social networks like Instagram, Pinterest, and G+. Those are the visual social networks, so the most important thing I needed to focus on were the images I posted on each network. The image really needs to grab people's attention, otherwise the ad will fall flat every time. Hoping people will discover it, won't work. A strong, beautiful image is needed every time I posted ad.

    One problem I had was some of the people working on my team were getting the images and their captions mixed up. They did not always know what images and captions to post to which network. At first, I was just giving them an image with a caption and said, "Post this to Instagram at 8am, 12pm, and 3pm." They would post the wrong image and caption at the wrong time. I got tired of typing up which image and caption went to what social network and emailing it to them everyday.

    So I started to let my team see the entire marketing process, as well as my marketing calendar of when I wanted to post each ad/image/caption. When they saw the whole process they were able to understand much better what each ad was for, and why it needed to be posted to a certain social network at a specific time.

    At first I just did a "share screen" of my desktop so they could see my calendar. But since some people on my team are in different time zones, I would not always be awake when someone needed to see my screen.

    To remove that hang up, I started using desktop solutions like Proofme.com so I could upload all the ads/images/captions/calendar there and my team could login and see everything all in one place whenever they want. They could leave comments there for me to see when I woke up, and also leave a comment there once they had posted an ad to a social network.

    I guess you could say, once I made my marketing more of a collaborative effort between me and my team, things got SO much better. Suddenly everyone understood everything. Now they just login to Proofme, grab the ads they need, post them to the social network, leave a comment that they did it, and log out. And it's free.

    So if you can let your team see your marketing plan, timeline, calendar, etc. then everyone working on marketing will have a much easier time knowing what to do and there will be less mistakes, hang ups, and bottlenecks when it's time to execute advertising.
  13. jc banks

    jc banks Member

    That's true those are things every one should be asking before they start. Funds are a big thing for those of us starting out, trying to let people that want what you know you have is not always easy. Hiring it out maybe easier, but unless you see a big jump in business that may not be the way to go. I use social media because in cost its less but in time its still is work. Don’t get caught in the media make sure when on the on for you business that’s what your doing, and don’t over sell, keep content that is reverent coming to your site, convert those people into buyers.

    Do your research after all this is your business you want to be the best at it, and show people you are by being able to answer their questions. Put your self in their shoes, and treat them the way you want to be treated. Don’t be afraid to put your self out there.
  14. Ladyferoz

    Ladyferoz Member

    This is an interesting way, how did you use Fiverr to increase your followers? Did you pay them money to follow you or did you offer a service?
  15. pwarbi

    pwarbi Member

    While I agree that small business owners are going to run in to a number if problems, it's how you deal with them that will make your a business a success or not.

    For every problem you need to be able to try and work out a solution. While money doesn't make the world go round, in business you'll find that funding is a massive part but not necessarily earning money, but knowing just what to spend it on is a big issue.
  16. Corazon

    Corazon Member

    The primary problem of small business in marketing is the lack of client base. When your business depends on the so called walk-in customers, it is like waiting for rain. Especially the small business that doesn't have a good location, it needs a client base for continued support. I know of a business that depended on a company owned by the sister of the owner. Employees of the company were granted credit to the boutique so they could buy even without cash and most of their purchases were deducted from their salary. Those employees formed the clientelle.
    jc banks likes this.
  17. I live in a country where nearly half of the companies don't last three years (about 48% 3-years survive rate). According to researches, 46% of them hadn't even a clue about their number of expected customers or their habits and behaviors. And as long as I know lots of them personally, I'd dare to say a few things on the root causes.

    Most people approaches marketing as a "halfway", as advertising only. People advertise, advertise, advertise, and it's just a small part of marketing. Do you know that people who are always speaking, speaking and speaking, but never hear anyone? Yes, this is what many small business are alike!

    Much more important than advertising is researching, surveying, this is where you REALLY LISTEN to your customers (and not a biased set of them). Then, and only then, you start speaking - when you know them enough to talk to them and be heard by them. But rather, most entrepreneurs don't actually do that - or worse, they think they do that when they actually don't. They do a small market research when building a business plan, and think that's enough. "Hey, I did a market survey 1 year ago to know whether my business were viable, so my customers never changed and I know everything about them, because I read minds".

    And come on, who never thought like this? It's not a thing to be ashamed of, I did it, a lot, and paid the consequences (normally expensive). I think everyone do that in certain moments. And I think that's the root of all marketing problems small business owners face.

    When you don't hear your customer through the due methodologic survey, you'll for sure will face some troubles:
    - Your advertising isn't effective enough. If you don't know your customers enough, you'll barely be able to communicate with them!
    - Your customers might buy you, through advertising, but won't come back nor spread your message. If you don't know your customers well, and for any reasons you may be able to communicate, it'll be a superficial communication, and you'll break their expectations.
    - Your customers just don't buy your product/service. Because you're not offering what they need/want, as you don't know what they need/want!

    And the worst problem is when you think you know your customers, but you actually don't! You informally asked for some couples of customers what they do think about your product or service, and they answered: "it's great", or "it's great, but lacks <anything they want to do as an excuse to don't buy you at the moment and get rid of you>". And then, in the last case, you start a crusade to improve your products or services based in a biased, and very often inaccurate feedback you got in a not trustable context (sales moment).

    That, in my experience, is the main challenge people face in marketing.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2017
    djbaxter likes this.
  18. djbaxter

    djbaxter Administrator Moderator Member

    ^^^ Excellent post, Bruno!
    Bruno Moreira-Guedes likes this.
  19. Thanks, @djbaxter, I'm really glad you liked it!
  20. Small to Feds

    Small to Feds MVP Member

    As a small business counselor I have noticed there seems to be a belief that automation, the Internet and social networking can make the business succeed when in fact the real design of the enterprise itself is lacking (niche, market base, business plan, competitive analysis and financial forecasting)

    I hear from many clients who ask, "What Now?" having launched an enterprise that is going nowhere because they are driving the tools and not the car.

    I take them back to the garage; design the auto to see if it can run and then apply the wrenches retroactively if that is possible. It is usually a traumatic experience and could have been avoided with strategic and business planning before launch.

    Below is a simple test to develop your potential idea for a business.

    1. Do you have a product or service niche in mind?

    2. Do you believe you have a market for 1 above and the means to reach it?

    3. Are you willing to develop a business plan using the tool kit linked below to validate 1 and 2 above before you launch?

    If the answer to the above questions is "Yes",use the below planning aids to design your business vehicle and the road map you intend to follow on your journey:

    General Planning Considerations

    Market Research Guidance

    Free Sample Business Plans

    When you have completed the above definition and planning process you will then be in a position to astutely select the tools you wish to use along the way and apply them successfully.

    You will be able to network your vehicle, pick up riders as industry partners, and attract revenue fuel in the form of customers by marketing and social networking based on the thorough definition and content of your business plan.

    In short, don’t let technology make a monkey out of you and your idea as well as raid your treasury before you launch.

    Define your business vehicle and its journey first. Then pick the right technology tools to make a successful trip.
    djbaxter likes this.

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