Marketing for small business can be a sink hole for your hard earned dollar if you start down the wrong path. If you’re stuck and not getting the results you’re looking for, try looking at these 31 marketing challenges and how to overcome them.
Marketing Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Negative Online Reviews
Bad online feedback  can be amplified through tweets and posts. While some might be constructive, you need to mitigate the damage when the attacks are vicious. Finding a reputation management  company can run the necessary interference.
PPC Ads That are Prohibitively Expensive
Some people limit the scope here to search based ads where you’re picking keywords and choosing where you want your ads to appear. Therein lies the issue, Robert Brady, founder of Righteous Marketing  tells Small Business Trends
“Pay per click encompasses a lot of the paid options in social networks  as well,” he says.
Poor Customer Renewal Rate
The Harvard Business Review suggests that increasing customer retention by 5 percent increases profits by up to 95 percent.
If your retention rates are sagging, the problem might be in the tone of your messaging.
Small business marketing expert Ivana Taylor  tells Small Business Trends using words and phrases to establish a relationship based collaboration is more effective than the old hard sell.
Messaging That’s Off
Copying and pasting the messages your competition is using doesn’t resonate with your market. Besides, it can even get your website penalized with Google.
“It’s important your message is clear about who you are and what you’re committed to ,” Taylor says. “Unique content is what drives customers in.”
Website Doesn’t Convert
You might be getting the traffic to your website but not the numbers in visitors who convert into sales . Remember, first impressions are just as important in cyberspace as they were in the brick and mortar days.
You might need to tweak your landing page to get better numbers. Try simplifying your navigation. Something as simple as bigger buttons might be all you need.
Long Sales Cycle
Say you need 10 clicks to get one ebook download. Narrow that down to eight and there’s a 20 percent cost savings.
Shopping for less expensive clicks from places like Facebook is a great way to shorten that sales cycle.
Not Enough Leads Generated
The issue when you’re not getting a steady flow of leads  could very well be with the image and tone your emails, social media posts and website portray. Taylor suggests you soften that approach.
“Because of the Internet, our culture dictates you need to have strengths in areas that are predominately feminine,” she says.
Poor Lead Tracking and Follow Up
Small business owners can easily get overwhelmed with all the analytics choices they have. However, not picking a way to automate your follow up procedures could cause everything to stall.
Checking out the variety of social media dashboards available today is a good jumping off point if you haven’t taken the plunge. These supply great metrics that even include open rates for email.
Customers Confused by Your Offering
Too many choices on the landing page can actually be confusing and bad. That goes for products and services that aren’t clearly different than the competition as well. Taking the time to front load any and all of your marketing efforts to decide what makes your offering unique is worth the time.
Social Media has Become a Time Sink (and Isn’t Showing Results)
Carrying on with the too many choices theme, you don’t need to have a social media presence on every available site just because you can. Some work better than others and you need to match your target market up with the one that works.
Brady stresses that good tracking helps you to decide what works and what can be cast aside.
Keywords that Fall Flat
Search engine optimization (SEO) doesn’t get your website’s ranking to where it needs to be if you aren’t using the right keywords . There’s a process to getting the right ones and SEO gurus like Allan Pollett  know what they are.
“The first thing to do is make a list of the keywords that you think people will use to search for your product or service and always think locally,” Pollett tells Small Business Trends. You can actually fine tune your choices by searching them in Google.
Brand Messaging that’s Not Consistent
A message that doesn’t have the same repetitive approach  doesn’t resonate with your target audience. That means it won’t stick with the very people you want it to.
Take the time to blend the old with the new here. That means developing tag lines and product attributes you can use across any integrated marketing campaigns .
A Marketing Voice that Doesn’t Resonate
Just like Little Red Riding Hood’s porridge, some marketing voices are too hot (advertorial) or too cold (they speak down to your clients).
The trick is to be conversational and catchy, while still valued added and informational. Hiring a writer helps.
You’re Not Attracting Enough Email List Subscribers
Maybe your problem isn’t that you aren’t using tracking software. Maybe you’re having difficulty over what the software is telling you about the people opening up the emails you sent them.
Taylor suggests redefining who you send these blasts out to.
“One of the reasons they’re not selling is because they don’t know who their ideal customer is,” she says. Try creating some buyer personas  to filter the message.
Your Product Doesn’t Get Any Reviews
You might not be selling enough to generate reviews  or you’re not allowing for customer reviews in your online space.
Worst case scenario: you need to pull your product off the market and mine social media to find out how to fix what’s wrong in a new prototype. Best case scenario? Add a page or widget to your website to allow for reviews to be added.
Lack of Knowledge and Skills
Small business owners get overwhelmed with all the social media choices, analytical capabilities and other marketing toys they can adopt.
This one’s easy. Hire a professional marketer, says Taylor. Hiring a professional, she says, can help you focus and not get overwhelmed.
Use links correctly and Google will reward you by ranking your page higher in the searches. Cut a few corners and pay a hefty price.
“Google is penalizing sites for bad links. Citation links drive traffic to your website and build up authority with Google.” Yelp is a good example of where you can get quality links.
Not Testing Your Copy First
Many small businesses make the mistake of throwing their copy into their marketing mix without taking advantage of the analytics that can help to define it.
“Test the copy in an email or PPC environment first,” Brady suggests.
Not Taking Advantage of a Big Email List
Not using a large email list  to full advantage is another barrier. Even when you’re not sure about something as simple as a headline, you can test it and break it down by sending it to different segments of your email list  to decide what works. Then you can build a page with the copy that got the best results.
Quite often, there are some generational divides in organizations. Some people may want to go for a more traditional print approach while others are interested in digital marketing.
The solution here is to adopt an integrated marketing plan that may use tools like Twitter to get the word out on live events.
Not Knowing What a Website Can Do
Some small businesses think they can circumvent having a website with a Facebook page. While that works, they don’t get the full analytical capabilities.
Having a website on a platform like WordPress opens up the ability to get all of the analytical capabilities so you can make smart marketing decisions, according to Brady.
Taking the Cheap Routes
Small businesses try to cut costs where ever possible without sacrificing what sets their brand apart. This strategy usually succeeds but not always when it comes to doing marketing — particularly online marketing — well.
“Sometimes people think they’re doing something good for their business,” Pollett says, “but they can destroy their website so it will never rank on Google.”
Make sure the people who are doing your internet marketing are transparent about the relevant factors like page and domain authority.
Failure to Prioritize Objectives
You can’t travel down any marketing road until you know what your preferred destination looks like. Benchmarks are a great way to determine how things are working.
Analytics are fine but you need to have concrete signposts like a consistent bump in sales to gauge success here. The two should work together.
Not Understanding Who is Pulling Your Marketing Strings
Some small businesses don’t pay attention to the Google updates like Panda. No small business can hope to ignore the rules set out in these and hope to succeed.
Pollett makes this clear another way.
“Google supplies 60 to 70 percent of most website’s traffic. If you get banned from Google , you’re basically saying you don’t want to be in business,” he says.
Your Spending has Increased but You Don’t Know What’s Working
You’re trying new marketing platforms because of the interesting emails you’re getting from internet marketing companies promising you page one rankings. Casting the net too wide might not work, but getting back to trusted fundamentals like AdWords is a sure bet.
Brady suggests you can use three different ads and use a trusted platform like AdWords to rotate between them.
“Try them with a keyword you’ve got good volume on and look at the click through rate,” he says.
Expecting Twitter Ads Will Work By Themselves
Nothing you do online works just by being in cyberspace. If you just put together a Twitter Ad  and let it all alone on the vast Internet ocean, you won’t get results.
Taylor says Twitter has a lot of features working with their ads like focusing on target market behaviors and interests. She says tailoring your approach here gets you results.
Confusing Tactics and Strategy
If you don’t have the language clear and use it properly, your marketing will be a jumbled mess.
Start clarifying with the difference between strategy and tactics. Mobile marketing, social media tools and the like are all tactics you use to further a business strategy. The business strategy being the objectives you use the tactics to achieve.
Lack of Coordination
Sometimes, your marketing team can be too big and/or disjointed. Social media teams might not have any connection to the print and radio advertisers. That can lead to a breakdown in the entire system.
If you integrate everything and load it into the right dashboard, you can see how Twitter and Facebook ads work together with live events and the ROI.
There’s a tendency for the DYI marketer to copy and paste competitor’s content. Cutting that corner can lead to penalties from Google that can cost you ranking and money.
The solution is simple. Make a few videos about your business and place them on your website.
Hostile Corporate Cultures
Franchisees might run up against this issue when they want to run a campaign for their individual stores. Not every big company will let their underlings hold the marketing reigns for themselves.You might be able to get around a restricting corporate culture by setting up your own social media accounts and posting personal items from the job. Adding pictures of employees and managers gives this a cozy personal vibe.
Lack of Vision
There are still those small businesses that think they don’t need integrated and/or digital marketing and can do well without even a website.
Keep in mind even the folks in a small town have smartphones these days. You’re missing out on getting the word out on your goods and services if you don’t take advantage of all the tools modern marketing has to offer.
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Note: This article first appeared in Small Business Trends Magazine — Marketing Edition 2017. To download a FREE copy and get future copies first, click here .
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