Being a small business owner in the first stages of your business, it can be tough to figure out what exactly you should be doing to ensure that your small business takes off. You could be trying every single thing that you think you should be doing and yet, you still don’t see any results.
One reason why small businesses take too long to take off is due to a lack of clarity in our marketing strategies. We are doing everything and talking to everyone without much of a focus. You could also be focusing on the wrong things in your strategy.
In this blog post, I take a look at the 7 mistakes you could be making as a small business owner and I also offer up some quick solutions to these mistakes.
Let’s get started!
Mistake #1: You are marketing on every single platform out there
Twitter. Facebook Groups. Facebook Pages. Blogs. Instagram Reels/Stories/IGTV/Live. YouTube. TikTok. SnapChat. Email….
That’s the fastest way to drive yourself completely insane and burn yourself and your business down to the ground. Each platform was built with a different purpose in mind. When you stretch yourself too thin, you do burn yourself out incredibly quickly and you’ll find that you’re unable to focus on creating great content for each platform.
Another thing to take note of, is that people use these platforms differently. In a piece of research I did as part of my day-job (I’m a PR & Consumer Behaviour Researcher), people were on IG for instance looking for:
- Entertainment. And to be entertained. Drama. Celebrity Gossip.
- News. The fastest way to get short soundbites of what is going on in the world (especially for the younger ones)
- Keeping up with friends and fam’s updates.
For FB, people were attracted to its sharing feature:
- News articles and short commentary to be shared with others
- Keeping up with friends and fam
- Joining event groups
For instance, if you were a lifestyle coach, how you marketed on Instagram would be totally different from how you showed up on Facebook.
Solution: Choose 1 or 2 strategies and stick to it. You wouldn’t really know if something works (or not) til you get down and dirty and try it. Go with something you are comfortable with. Love making videos? See if you can do a series or tutorials on YouTube. Or maybe IGTV/videos are more your thing. Do some research and find which niches do well on which platforms. Not all platforms have equal opportunities for varying niches.
With that that said, you gotta be patient. Pick 1 and stick it with it for a couple of months before you decide to switch.
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Mistake #2: You are marketing to everybody
Jack, Jane, their mums, dads, friends and maybe even their pet goldfish. When you are marketing to everybody, you market to nobody. Having a product that is so general and encompassing
This is related to #2, but is more about what services and products you are trying to sell. Are you a lifestyle coach for everyone? A relationship coach for ALL women?
Solution: Start with a small niche and grow out from there. There may be related niches that have something in common. For instance, you may start off as a relationship coach for ladies in their 20s (for eg) and find that your clients/target audience also struggle with self-esteem issues. So you may want to go into that as well.
Mistake #3: Spending way too much on ads
When you are first starting out, ads shouldn’t even be a part of your strategy. You wouldn’t have enough information – yet – about your target audience, what works, what business you should be involved in and so on. You might even be a little bit unsure of your exact business niche.
When you have very little information about your business, then your ads may be confusing. Who are you speaking to, and how do you grab attention – these are things that are difficult to determine from the get-go.
Furthermore, ads on Facebook and Google are expensive and you’d always be out-bid by larger businesses that have more money to spend on these campaigns.
Solution: Focus on building up authority through content and determining which target segments of the population respond the best to it. The thing about target audiences is that it’s not as easy to figure out as the experts always tell you. It does take time – it took me 3 years of experimenting to really settle on a target segment. so put out content to determine who is biting and then study that demographic and look up their pain points.
Struggling with your career? Aren’t sure if you are in the right job? Nervous about the upcoming interview? Or perhaps you have a really toxic work culture/boss/management and you are not sure how to deal? Come drop your question in 100 words over here, and I will write back with some solutions 🙂
Mistake #4: Not promoting your stuff at all
Many business owners make this mistake thinking that as long as I have a webpage up with a few articles and such, people would automatically come knocking.
There’s way too much stuff going on in people’s lives and the information saturation out there means you need to vy for their attention.
It doesn’t work that way. In fact, this is the reason why there is so much competition on YouTube and Google from businesses – everyone wants to be on the first page for searches as it means people will click through.
But we all can’t be on the first page, so we do have to find ways of promoting your business. You need to let people know you exist.
Solution: Research and think of several ways of pushing your biz out there. It could be social media, guest posting, making YouTube videos – whatever suits your type of business.
Mistake #5: Trying every single thing the pros tell you to
Someone tells you, you need to start a blog – you do just that. Someone says FB ads are good, you try to set up a few campaigns. Someone tells you to get on Instagram, you do just that. Get on Twitter… set up a YouTube channel, write long posts, film more videos etc etc etc.
Wonder why you then lose steam after awhile and cannot follow through with anything?
This is because you are being stretched too thin, doing everything that people tell you, you should do.
Remember, each business is unique and you gotta figure out what really works for you.
For example, I’ve not filmed any videos as part of my content marketing strategy despite people telling you that videos are doing well on Google SEO. Why? My strengths are in writing and speaking, so blogging and podcasting work the best for me.
I also took into account the consumption habits of my target audience. Most of them were reading articles, hence it made no sense to start creating videos (which are time-consuming by the way) which they wouldn’t be watching anyway.
Solution: Do the legwork for yourself. Figure out, read around, do research, talk to people. Study your users’ consumption patterns. Are all these what they really need? Will these things touted by experts benefit your business?
Mistake #6: Not evaluating your strategy and tweaking
Many of us make a mistake of putting something out there but not checking back to see if there has been any form of feedback on our posts or strategy.
Do you ask for feedback from your audience? Do you examine the analytics linked to your account? If you haven’t, it’s time to do so. You don’t need a huge amount of knowledge about analytics to really examine what is going on. Sometimes, just quickly checking which links are people drawn to is all you need.
See this example taken from my Google Analytic dashboard – the more popular posts weren’t actually the ones I expected: Long-time friends who cut you off, Should you stay or leave a toxic workplace
When I wrote those articles, I wasn’t expecting much results from them. But time and again, they have been my top two articles, give and take. This allowed me some insight into which areas I should be focusing on for my business.
If I hadn’t bothered checking and just continued making new posts and products, I would have been going in the wrong direction. So gaining feedback and tweaking your strategy as you go along is the smartest way to go about your business and saves you a lot of time! Don’t just throw something out there and just leave it as it is.
Solution: If you are launching a brand-new product and you haven’t had the results you’ve expected, reach out to your audience and ask them what didn’t go well, in their opinion. Study the best performing posts via your analytics, it will help you work out which content is resonating with your audience and which needs to go. Develop the habit of going back to your content/offerings and refreshing it.
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Mistake #7: Too over-reliant on social media
Don’t get me wrong – promoting your business on social media is a great way of engaging and interacting with each other. It also can get more eyeballs to your content. However, despite all that the experts are telling you, social media is not the best way of getting traffic to your website. Look at the traffic on mine below. Despite trying out most social media platforms (and deciding they aren’t for me) and primarily sticking to Pinterest, the bulk of my traffic still comes from organic search (Google):
Some of us also fall into the trap of thinking that we need to be on every single social media platform but don’t make that mistake. Turning your social media following into an engaged audience who will take action takes a lot of time and effort. So do spend it wisely.
And the most important point:
You may never get enough conversions from social media that would justify the time and money you spend on it.Gill Andrews
A study found that businesses do not get as much return on their social media efforts versus other methods:
This is because Social media, no matter the platform, is just too crowded and over-saturated. Plus, most people are on there connecting with their friends/fam, stalking celebs and scrolling through photos. They are there because they are bored or want to be entertained, they are not on there to buy something. In fact, many are getting tired of the ads on Facebook or Instagram.
Social media can be part of your business strategy, but it shouldn’t be the main way you go about promoting your business.
Solution: Examine which platforms suit your audience and business. For instance, if you are very focused on videos, which would be the right platform to put them on? Also, explore other ways of promoting your work instead of spending 100% of your resources on social media – it can be a huge timesuck.
As business owners (small or large), it can be challenging to figure out what really works for your business, especially with so many things constantly changing in the world – business or otherwise!
The key to overcoming this is to be adaptable to changes, constantly revise and update your strategy, and really be in tune with what is working for your business, your audience and for yourself.