Why weak marketing contributes to small business failure

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Marketing is an essential part of running a business and, for the small business, weak marketing can help contribute failure.


It doesn't matter whether the business is small or large, because all companies must reach out and try and connect with their target markets or else experience a difficult time reaching profitability. With customers not knowing a business is open, there will be little to no sales.

Enter marketing philosophies, principles and tactics. When planning marketing approaches it is important for the small business to:
  • Know its audience
  • Figure out ways to reach that audience 
  • Consider the timeliness of its advertising
Any weaknesses in these areas can ultimately lead to failure if the small business owner isn't careful. It can be a costly mistake to incorrectly select a consumer market segment, choose the wrong advertising venues and pick the wrong time to pitch certain products or services.

Here are a few reasons as to why any deficiencies in these areas can help contribute to weak marketing:

Not knowing an audience

The type of business will often decide what the best course of action where marketing is concerned. Before a small business opens it should have already done a market analysis and know who it targeted audience is.

Once that is determined, the small business owner can search for the most effective and cost-efficient ways to deliver their marketing message in order to reach their desired audience. Chances are the small business does not have a huge marketing budget. This means any misjudgements will be very costly. 

For instance, it is not worth any businesses' resources to market to audiences who have no use for the products or services being sold. It would be unwise for a toy store to target baby toys to teens or single men in their 20s; a smarter approach would be to target its sales pitches towards parents in advertisements, online sales or mailing.

The other alternative is to market towards a general audience and hope something will stick, but this can often be pretty costly. Advertising efforts are fruitless if the mailings end up in the trash. 

Try attending business expos, festivals or, if possible, trade shows and build up an email list and get to know potential customers on a local level.
Small businesses often do well at niche events. Photo credit: Leigh Goessl

Wrong advertising venues

Small businesses typically do not have excess amounts of cash on hand to waste on fruitless efforts of advertising. It is a weakness if ads are places in channels where they won't be seen. For instance, if a business is targeting the aforementioned baby toys, it would be kind of silly to advertise a big toy sale in financial newspapers, teen magazines, or on a sports network.

Instead the best place to pitch these would be on children's TV channels, parent magazines or on channels where parents who are interested in toys would likely be tuning in. Choosing the wrong advertising venue could be a costly mistake, especially for small businesses who must carefully decide where their advertising money should be spent.

Bad timing

Timing is also another important marketing consideration. For instance, a sporting goods store would be miscalculating if it heavily advertised ski equipment in the summer when everyone is looking for fishing, boating and other summertime related sporting goods equipment. If a small business really needs to move this equipment, it could do it as clearance sale and turn it into a way to entice customers, but for regular sales, the timing is going to be bad.

Lack of web presence

Another perceived weakness that is becoming more and more visible is having a web presence. Not just a web presence, but a mobile-friendly website too. The number of small businesses having a website, no matter how basic, has been steadily increasing. And with mobile in the mix, Google search rankings can be affected too. A small business does not want its site buried.

Long gone are the days of people turning to the yellow pages of the telephone directory, most people head straight to the web to find what they are looking for. A strong web presence has almost become a necessity for most small businesses who want to successfully complete. It can be argued that a lack of web presence is a huge marketing weakness.

A small business owner has to find affordable marketing that is effective. However, a lack of marketing or weak marketing effort is going to have an overall impact on the success or failure of the business. All businesses need to engage in a level of marketing and small business owners are no exception.

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