Indianapolis CPA Explains: How To Have A Profit Explosion While Avoiding The Most Common Mistakes In Small Business (Part 2)

How To Implement Proven Marketing Principles To Attract And Grow Your Ideal Customers

When I first started my business, one skillset I knew I had was the ability to sell.  And I was great at providing my core product – as a CPA – so I figured everything thing else would fall in place.

And looking back at all the business owners I’ve worked with overtime, I’ve noticed that many of them remained in this same frame of mind.  Or in other words, the general philosophy seems to be:  “Build it and they will come.”

However, although I’ve generated plenty of business in referrals from doing good work, I realized that getting to the next level in my firm was not quite that simple.  And especially when it comes to marketing, it is a discipline important for every business owner to grasp.

I mention this because not knowing how to market is also one of the main reasons why businesses end up failing.

And with that said, here are some of the most common marketing mistakes I’ve seen businesses make over the years:

Not Developing A Real USP.  On on basic level, when you’re up against tough competition and a large number of alternatives, you better be working on your Unique Selling Proposition.  This is what separates you from any other choice your customers may have.  Otherwise, if you cannot answer this question, it will hurt your sales.

Not Putting In Enough Time.  Marketing takes much time and thought for it to really make the impact you desire.  It’s not something that should be done haphazardly – whenever you get around to it at odd times.  But there should be a consistent time and effort being spent to build up your marketing strategy and arsenal.

Not Taking Control Of The Process – There are plenty of companies out there who will sell you a pre-bundled or so called “customized” marketing service, who don’t know the first thing about you or your business.  But the truth is, only you can know exactly where you want to go, and how you want your customers to perceive you, and who your specific ideal customers are, and where exactly to go to find them, and how to interact with those customers – according to your own business plans.  It would be quite expensive to have someone from the outside – without truly aligned, significant incentives – to get on the same page with you in carrying out your visions.  So most of us have to take control of this process ourselves.

Not Developing Your Niche – Small businesses must know that in the end, trying to mass market to any and everyone is a losing proposition.  It just costs too much to develop a realistic strategy to gain market share this way, so you have to determine what niche market you want to develop.  Or even more specifically, you may want to determine which particular clients you want to build stronger relationships with.  This not only allows you to lower your cost of promoting to and reaching your audience, but it also helps you to find ways to increase the value that you provide and receive from your customers as well.  This value may be not only in increased profit margins, but it may also allow you operate more efficiently.  There is simply little to gain in a one-size fits all approach to marketing in small business.

Not Knowing Your Ideal Customer Well Enough – Of course, to get and keep someone’s attention, you must know what makes that prospect tick.  The more you know about who your ideal customers are – including their lifestyle, demographics, personalities, etc. – the more you will know how to position your own offering accordingly.  Positioning is simply how your customers perceive you relative to the rest of your competition.  You’ll want to be in control of this as much as possible, but you cannot if you don’t see things from their perspective.

Not Focusing On The Problem.  One thing that a business owner should know is how to identify the problems your customers are experiencing, and then develop those pain points even further in your sales and marketing communications.  Of course, this is more of an emphasis in large-ticket sales – as smaller sales have fewer decision makers, easier decisions, less at stake, and shorter-term relationships.  But if you have to make sales where long-term relationships are necessary, you should try to focus on things from a value-oriented perspective – which usually means that you’re saving someone a lot of money or relieving them from some other major issue or concern.  When the cost of the problem outweighs the cost of the solution, that’s when you’ve got yourself a client.

Not Marketing Consistently – It usually takes a multiple number of exposures – according to research an average of seven – for a prospect to respond to a message.  So if you try a tactic that reaches your customer once and never do it again, you’ll have very little chances of getting your desired response.  Therefore, whatever you do, make sure that you’re reaching your customers several times with consistent messaging to give yourself a real opportunity.  Otherwise, you’ll never really know what works and what doesn’t.

Not Marketing To Your Current Customers – It’s a well-known fact in marketing that it costs less to cross and up-sell a current customer, than it is to break through to brand new customers.  And not to mention, it’s further developing the relationship with your current customers that will help you to determine your ideal clients, how you can add unique value to your product, and what will help you to turn that value into attracting more “good” customers.

Not Rounding Out Your Product Offerings – The most difficult thing to do is get the customer. But then once you have them, product development should be a continual process – an element of your business planning.   So many business owners’ products or service offerings have become outdated or even obsolete, because little attention being paid to this area.

Not Noticing Other Niches For Your Products Or Services – Who else could benefit from your products or services, other than the prospects you are marketing to now?  I’ve seen plenty of businesses that started with one type of prospect, but then found that there were others who had a similar need and were just as lucrative – or even more so.

Not Linking Your Marketing With Sales & Operations – Although marketing is its own discipline, it must be considered as part of the whole in the business. However, there is often a disconnect here in small businesses, which does not allow the various functions within a company to work together at an optimal level of efficiency and effectiveness.  This usually happens because the owner is not diligent in business planning and considering each facet of the business together – and then sharing its goals and priorities across these functions on a regular basis.

Not Knowing Your Customer Lifetime Values – Understanding what a new customer is worth over the lifetime of a relationship is very important.  This average not only shows how much you can spend to acquire a new customer, but it should also be included in all of your forecasts, cash flow planning, and other growth plans that you use for your company.  Therefore, having this type of system in place is one of the first steps you should take before testing any type of marketing.  Because otherwise, your marketing performance will suffer from not having the data you need to make the best decisions.