Here are five bad small-business habits, plus some tips for breaking them, from marketing consultant Shawn Graham.
- Putting all your energy into web marketing — No one would argue the power of online marketing. According to Graham, “With tens of thousands of small businesses already online, you can’t just assume prospective customers are automatically going to find your website or engage with your business on social media. To be successful, you need to develop a marketing mix of both online (website, social media, email marketing) and offline (events, brochures, direct mail) tactics.”
- Overlooking local influence — Small-business owners may underestimate community connections, especially if they’re focused on gaining national attention. But success starts at home, Graham notes. “As a small-business owner, you need to take advantage of every opportunity to make meaningful connections and gain exposure for your business, especially in your own backyard,” he says. “Local events, media outlets, and strategic partnerships can all be great ways to get noticed by prospective customers.” And, once you get good at connecting on a local level, you’ve set the stage for establishing a wider customer base.
- Marketing only when it’s convenient — You’re doing well, and you’re busy. So why spend your precious time drumming up new business? Because you’ll eventually run out of steam if you don’t keep up your marketing efforts. Graham suggests that entrepreneurs routinely schedule time for marketing. “Even 30 minutes a day can make a big difference,” he says.
- Catering only to prospects — It’s important to generate leads, but don’t forget about your existing clients. Because past customers can easily turn into repeat business or be a source of referrals, Graham recommends that you “always make sure you stay in touch, especially after you make the sale.”
- Blogging infrequently or not at all — Inactivity doesn’t fare well online. You risk losing potential customers who may perceive a static website as disinterest or a dead business. “Having a blog helps keep your small-business website minty fresh,” Graham says. “Each new blog post you create helps to give the appearance that your website is alive and kicking, and that’s always a good thing. A blog is a great platform for creating a dialogue with prospective customers and for helping drive more eyeballs to your website.”