Small businesses are such an essential part of our economy, and offer so many great products and services to local communities. In a society run by giant corporations that are taking over the market (and unfortunately, the world), it is extremely important to assure that every aspect of your small business is performing to it’s highest potential. Comprised of an immense variety of different types of industries from food service to health and wellness, small business plays a very important role in everyone’s lives by providing us with genuine products and services. Cultivating a striving customer base is of paramount importance to small businesses, and your small business can not afford to overlook these mistakes any longer. Read on as I outline some of the most common mistakes I come across in small businesses!
1. Virtually no branding strategy
No matter the scale of your business, branding is extremely important and effects many, if not all, aspects of how your business is perceived by the public. Broken down to it’s most basic elements, branding generally follows this equation:
Brand = Culture + Customer Experience + Communication
You want your brand to be it’s own pretty little package that ultimately represents your business completely. Take away any one of these components and your business will become lost within the masses of businesses and services that we all have access to. Hopefully you’ve fleshed out these aspects of your business by now, and you have a good idea of what your business has to offer your target market. If not, get on it! If you you’re unsure of any of these, spend some time concentrating on getting to know your business better, and improving upon what you already know about your businesses culture, customer service + experience, and how you communicate with your customers. These will all vary greatly depending on the type of service or product you provide, who your target market is, and the scale of your business.
2. Not knowing your target market, or marketing to too broad of an audience
Because your services have the potential to benefit any person, it’s easy to think that your target market is EVERYONE. But one of my favorite sayings in the design community goes as follows:
“If You’re Marketing to Everyone, You’re Marketing to No One.”
This rings so incredibly true, and is important to keep in mind especially when your business if located in a city with many other similar businesses. Hone in on who it is that you are really trying to attract and take it from there. Assess your services, location, and specialized expertise to help determine your target customer. Are they students from a nearby college? Or perhaps you’re located in the suburbs and most of your customers are mothers. Much of this is based on location, and how your services can benefit the people within traveling distance. Consider where your target customer spends most of their time (Even if it’s online) and focus your marketing strategy on getting your name in their line of sight.
3. Lacking a cohesive, consistent layout.
Something that I see time and time again when visiting small businesses web pages is a lack of consistency in regards to bodies of text, layout and general navigation of a site. Consumers today are constantly flooded with information, imagery, and subliminal messaging, and it’s easy to click away from large bodies of text and completely ignore imagery in some cases. A sure fire way to lose your readers attention is to feature long line lengths of important information. Large bodies of text are daunting to your customers, especially when they’re usually just skimming for the answer to their particular question. Implementing optimal line length for body copy (55-75 characters per line) will help keep that attention on you and your business!
Anticipate what questions your customers may have and place answers in quick & easy to find spots.
If you find yourself wanting to share a lot of informational text, consider adding an FAQ page, or even starting a blog about your industry. Also, assure that the fonts you choose for you site is easy to read, and doesn’t hurt the eyes to read for several lines.
4. Lack of customer engagement via your online presence.
Be sure to have an easy way for your customers to leave reviews or testimonials of your services. Word of mouth is the original form of old school marketing, and today it is easier than ever to encourage your customers to leave their mark.
Linking your website to a Yelp review page, or having a page specifically for testimonials will help build trust and notoriety within your community.
Additionally, you’ll want to have an easily navigated contact page, so potential customers can contact you with whatever questions they might have about your business. Offering your customers the opportunity to connect and share with your business via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will open up even more pockets of target customers. Be sure to update these fairly regularly, at least once a week. People LOVE to connect and share these days, and will post to their network how great of an experience they had with you and your business.
Perhaps you’re under the impression that your target market is not an avid internet or mobile user, such as senior citizens. Consider who else may be providing your product to these people, or facilitating your service. Making your business’s mission accessible to absolutely everyone will not take away from your credibility one bit, on the contrary, your online presence will build trust and broaden your viewership. Assuring that your website and social media stay in tip top condition will not only bring your branding full circle, but will also attract new customers.
5. General lack of consideration for design.
Think of your website as a virtual store front. As people browse through their local listings for the service or product they require, there are so many subliminal ways to encourage them to spend more time on your site and discover more about you, your business, and your mission. And more importantly, how your specific services will benefit them more than a competitors! You want to grab them right away, like a beautifully composed and eye catching window display.
But, I get it, you’re not a designer, so the aesthetic of your site might not be a priority. And maybe some of it has to do with the fact that you don’t have the time to learn how to do these things yourself, or it’s just an aspect of your business that is trumped by your actual service. But here’s a news flash:
Most consumers do a lot of online research before choosing where they’ll go for the desired service. In fact, a whooping 81% of consumers do some kind of online research before buying!
The standard for web design has been raised, as we are all exposed to good, no – GREAT design on a daily basis. Why not hold your web design to the same high standard that you require of the services or products you provide, and your amazing customer service?
If you find yourself checking off even one of these mistakes, start working on improving them today! It’s easy for online presence to fall to the back burner, but once you’ve seen the effects of improving these mistakes, you’ll never look back. My branding + identity packages can help your business find it’s path and steer you in the direction of a prosperous, successful future. My social media package can jump start your brand’s online presence and get you service or product in front of your target market’s eyes. Additionally, I offer individual products if you’re not in need of an entire branding or social media overhaul.
Which of these mistakes are is your business struggling with the most? Let me know in the comments below, and join the discussion on my Facebook page!