You want to stand out, we get it. You want people to see your company, understand your vision and buy your products. So what do you do? You spend lots of money trying to get your message where you think your customers will see it. You spend a ton of money on television advertisements, radio advertising and any number of print advertising mediums. Then you sit back and wait for the phone to blow up but it never does. The problem is that people don’t pay attention to “interruption style” (outbound) marketing tactics any more.
“The consumer is smart and it’s time we stop trying to trick them in to seeing our message and start giving them the information they want, the way they want it, how and when they want it.”
That being said, here are the top 5 ways businesses are wasting their small business marketing budgets:
86% of all tv ads are skipped with a DVR. Unless you have a multi-million dollar advertising budget you are absolutely wasting your money on television advertising. Unlike many people I actually watch TV commercials. Not all the time but I like to stay up to date on what companies are doing with their television advertising. it always makes me laugh when I see a small company who puts a cheesy TV commercial out there and pretend it does anything but make them look like a small business with no production budget. TV viewers expect to be wowed with the commercials they do see and few actually remember or pay attention to the ones that don’t stand out in this way.
I’m not saying there is no place for your small business to be advertising on television, but you would be far better suited spending that money on building an organic web presence, generating compelling original content and making your company easily accessible online.
Although considerably less expensive than TV advertising, radio advertising is expensive and equally ineffective for your small business advertising strategy because it is difficult to build brand awareness through this type of marketing channel. Think about it, when was the last time you heard a radio advertisement and dropped everything to go buy that product? More often than not you are in the car and when a radio commercial comes on you change the station.
Both television and radio advertising are good for building long term brand recognition but they are not great for building name value and delivering a strong ROI for small business advertising efforts. You are better off spending that money on a different advertising channel. One that helps you build a more intimate connection with your buyers and potential customers.
I know you have seen the guy on the side of the road waving that obnoxious sign around. Sometimes I actually enjoy watching them especially on that rare occasion when the person is actually in to it and enjoying themselves, dancing or twirling the sign to the beat of their own drum. Sign waving is only slightly worst than billboards since the billboard is bigger and is up 24/7 but the sign waver has a way of grabbing your attention at that busy intersection although you’ve never turned in or made a buying decision after having seen one have you? You don’t care about the half off offer because you aren’t looking for their product whether its full price or free, you just don’t care.
You see, the only person winning with these forms of advertising are the people who put them up. The average billboard will cost you at the very least 5 grand and they can go way up from there. The sign waver is making at least 10 an hour plus whatever the agency charges for their time on top of the cost of designing and printing the sign. All of which result in a lot of money spent with no quantifiable returns. You have no way of knowing what kind of traffic this type of advertising generates and it is all focused on interrupting your audience and people are just plan tired of being interrupted with advertising.
Poorly planned out pay per click campaigns:
Let me start by saying that a pay per click campaign is a great way to generate exposure for your website but you have to be careful how you use it. You need to make sure that you have targeted specific keywords and optimized your landing pages so that when that traffic gets directed to your site it has the best chance of converting that traffic in to a lead.
It would be a complete waste of time and money to send people to a page where there is no form to fill out or to a page that reflects what the person clicking was looking for. It is equally wasteful to send them to your home page and expect them to search out what they are looking for on your site. Any pay per click campaign should be well structured to make sure that the landing page is relevant and actionable. When they click on that link they should find whatever it is they were looking for in the first 5 seconds or they are gone. Not only are they gone but you just got rung up for that click regardless of if they converted or not. It is easy to turn pay per click campaigns in to money pits that just swallow your entire marketing budget.
This is the mistake that almost all small business owners make. It used to be that print advertising was the only way to get exposure and there is a place for it as a means to support your local publications or association but as a form of lead generation it is absolutely atrocious. People don’t use the phone book anymore when they are searching for your small business. They look to google or some other search engine. So why are you still spending money on that large ad or the full page color print in the weekend paper. Granted, it may be a package deal with some form of online exposure as well but in reality it is all quite ineffective at generating traffic and it would be almost impossible to distinguish where that traffic came from even if they did happen to find you through one of those channels.
My personal feeling is that print has no more than 5-10 years as a viable advertising medium. Maybe faster with the way tablets and mobile devices are taking over the advertising world. People don’t want to carry a bunch of magazines or deal with subscriptions. Eventually all magazines and printed material will shift over to the digital world. Just ask your local newspaper, if there is one anymore wherever you are.
So what is the solution?
The solution is to have a unified approach to inbound marketing in order to tie all of your marketing efforts in to one place and be able to quantify your ROI. I am not saying that all small businesses should stop spending money on traditional advertising, I am saying that they would be better suited developing a strong presence online and create content that helps them stand out. Create a strong value proposition for your business online and then market that through the traditional channels.
A lot of small business owners don’t think that their product can be sold online. They think that everything has to be done face to face but I disagree. Now I am not saying that you have to take the human interaction out of your sales process or try to automate the whole thing but you should definitely be positioning your small business online so that you can answer many of the questions that a lead might have and allow them to explore and find the information they want on their terms. If you did it right and if your product is strong enough then they will contact you. They will reach out for more information and then you can start them on a lead nurturing track with the hopes of converting them in to a customer somewhere down the road.
It is a difficult marketing and advertising concept for most small business owners to grasp because it is all so new. It is not the way they are used to doing it but I can promise you this. The companies who get used to doing it are going to be way ahead of the curve when the time comes where all companies have to be doing it.