Today we see advertisements at sporting events, roadsides, menus, and pretty much everywhere else. What are some early (you define early, but I was specifically thinking of the hey-day of the Colosseum) examples of advertising for local businesses?
According to Mass Media in Ancient Rome:
Painted advertisements for games have survived under the ashes that buried Pompeii in 79 GC. These advertisements promoted the games' sponsors as well as the games themselves:
Brought to you by Decimus Lucretius Satrius Valens, permanent priest of Nero Caeser, son of Augustus, twenty pairs of gladiators. And presented by Decimus Lucretius, son of Valens, ten pairs of gladiators. They'll fight at Pompeii from the sixth day before the ides of April, through the day before. There will be a standard venatio [animal fights or men hunting animals] and awnings [to provide shade for spectators].
Around two millennia later the Houston Chronicle notes:
In Caesarian times, a Roman named Maius published in the Acta Publica one of the first known advertisements:
For rent in the Arrio Pollian Block belonging to Allieus Nigidus Maius, shops with rooms above, second-story apartments fit for King and House. Apply to Primas, slave of Maius.
About 19 centuries later, in the Chronicle's second-day edition, an ad ran that was similar in form, if not content:
$50.00 CASH and a small monthly payment at 5 per cent interest will secure a lot in the Empire addition, at the end of Fannin street car line. Better buy at once while you can have choice. Hooper, Fuller & McClintock, 218 Main.
Some additional sources:
… the earliest surviving graffito is thought to be an ancient Greek brothel advert in Ephesus, now on Turkey's west coast. Telegraph.co.uk
The same article contains other discussions of advertising in Pompeiian graffiti
6 Best Online Advertising Strategies
When you first enter the world of digital marketing, it can be overwhelming. There are many different channels and platforms you can use to advertise your business, and for many people, the hardest part is figuring out a starting point.
If you&rsquore like many marketers, two of your biggest concerns when evaluating your options are cost-effectiveness and results. That&rsquos why on this page, we&rsquoll go over a few of the best online advertising strategies, their costs, and their benefits for your business.
Give us a call today at 888-601-5359 or contact us online to speak with a strategist or keep reading to find out the best advertising strategies for your business.
Table of Contents
Video: The best online advertising strategies
“Orange is a European cell provider that was expanding into Thailand. They blanketed Bangkok in billboards with black and white photos, with just a touch of orange. Next to the photos was the phrase ‘The future’s bright, the future’s orange.’ They didn’t say what the ads were for, so you were left wondering. A few weeks later, they replaced the photos with adverts for the Orange cell network.”
Is orange the new black? And what does that even mean? Here’s 10 fascinating facts on black color meaning.
How Brands Were Born: A Brief History of Modern Marketing
The "Mad Men" era of the 1960s was a Cambrian explosion of brands -- from cigarettes to soap -- that have come to define modern marketing. Understanding how those marketing campaigns began helps to explain why branded products are so ubiquitous today.
There was a time, going back at least 70 years, when all it took to be successful in business was to make a product of good quality. If you offered good coffee, whiskey or beer, people would come to your shop and buy it. And as long as you made sure that your product quality was superior to the competition, you were pretty much set. Well into the 1970s, a savvy consumer could distinguish between high-quality and shabby products quite easily.
And yet, as much as we like to complain about what we buy, it remains a fact that we live in a golden age for quality products. Today, it is much more rare to find cars that consistently break down or kiddie pools that leak. I challenge you to walk into any supermarket and find a product that is not of almost equal quality to the category leader in terms of functional performance. Nevertheless, the companies that were category leader in the early days often still are today. Some represent the "foundational brands," the companies that in the 1950s and 1960s epitomized the kind of smart marketing that is now ubiquitous. A handful of these marketing leaders are listed in the gallery below. And the reason they have survived the test of time comes down to the discipline of marketing and branding.
THE BIRTH OF MODERN BRANDS
The shift from simple products to brands has not been sudden or inevitable. You could argue that it grew out of the standardization of quality products for consumers in the middle of the 20th century, which required companies to find a new way to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
In the 1950s, consumer packaged goods companies like Procter and Gamble, General Foods and Unilever developed the discipline of brand management, or marketing as we know it today, when they noticed the quality levels of products being offered by competitors around them improve. A brand manager would be responsible for giving a product an identity that distinguished it from nearly indistinguishable competitors.
This required an understanding of the target consumer and what we call a "branded proposition" that offered not only functional but also emotional value. Over time, the emotional value would create a buffer against functional parity. As long as the brand was perceived to offer superior value to its competitors, the company offering the brand could charge a little more for its products. If this brand "bonus" was bigger than the cost of building a brand (the additional staff and often advertising costs), the company came out ahead.
In the 1950s and 1960s, brands like Tide, Kraft and Lipton excelled in marketing activities (see above gallery), setting the benchmarks for all brands today. This marked the start of almost 50 years of marketing where "winning" was determined by understanding the consumer better than your competitors and the getting the total "brand mix" right. The brand mix is more than the logo, or the price of a product. It's also the packaging, the promotions, and the advertising, all of which is guided by precisely worded positioning statements.
BUILDING AN 'ARTICULATE BRAND'
As my friend Simon Clift, former Chief Marketing Officer of Unilever likes to say, a brand is the contract between a company and consumers. A bundle of contracts, in fact. And the consumer is the judge and the jury. If he or she believes a company is in breach of that contract either by underperforming or misbehaving, the consumer will simply choose to enter a contract with another brand.
I say "misbehaving" because in fact the strongest brands have always exuded a clear sense of their core value. Dan Wieden, legendary ad-man and founder of advertising agency Wieden & Kennedy, puts it another way: Brands are verbs. Nike exhorts. IBM solves. Sony dreams.
But few brands are so articulate. Even the inventors of brand management continue to find it a challenge. Jim Stengel, formerly of Procter & Gamble, candidly acknowledged to me in an interview that "while many of P&G's products were very highly regarded for their functional qualities, some of our competitors had a stronger emotional bond with consumers' hearts. There was a lot of trust in our products, but there wasn't a lot of love."
For decades, it was the case that big companies marketed brands, while everyone else sold products. When I graduated from university in the late 1980s, someone with the ambition to learn marketing knew to start at companies like Colgate, Procter, Unilever, Coke, Pepsi, and General Mills to learn the ropes. Companies like Sara Lee, Mars, Cadburys, and Danone, also very much dependent on successful branding, tended to hire "graduates" from these companies after they had been trained for five years in the basics. From there marketers fanned out across industry. A quick LinkedIn search today among chief marketing officers and senior vice presidents of marketing confirms that how important these companies have been in shaping the face of marketing today.
THE STATE OF MARKETING
Just 20 years ago, most retailers did not even have a proper marketing department. If they did the department was responsible for little more than coordinating store-opening launch parties.
But in the early 1990s, things started to change. The previous commoditization of product quality was followed by an almost equal push for build real brands. One by one the big retailers started to realize that they had an opportunity to also play the branding game and that by selling more, higher quality, but particularly better-branded products, they could not only dramatically improve their margin mix, but that they could raise the profile and reputation of their own brand as a whole.
Without a doubt, the UK has led the pack worldwide. The retail landscape there is now really different to elsewhere as a result. Retailers like Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury started hiring marketers from their suppliers like Unilever and P&G just over a decade ago. Of course it took some time, but today these companies and their portfolio of brands enjoy equal and sometime better brand loyalty than any of the manufacturer brands they carry. And the results have followed. Private or "own" label as its sometimes called market share in the UK is over 50% in some key core food and household product categories. And profit has followed The profit margins of these UK supermarkets chains is over double that of the rest of the world's supermarkets.
Continental Europe has followed closely, with private label shares in many supermarket categories averaging between 20 and 30 across the store. The US still lags significantly, but Wal-Mart's recent complete rebranding and introduction of many private label product lines is undoubtedly a sign of what's to come.
And this development has not been limited to retailer brands or the fast moving consumer goods markets. The rapid rise of a mobile phone brand like HTC from a private (OEM) label supplier just three years ago to a major player today, as well as the very strong ascension of brands like Haier in household products and LG in the TV market show that a little bit of marketing knowledge can go a long way to building strong brands.
Now, a decade into the 21st century, the market looks very different to just 20 years ago. The explosion of branded offerings is overwhelming and confusing consumers and causing an ever-increasing headache for the leaders of 'traditional' brands. The average western consumer is exposed to some 3,000 brand messages a day. How can consumers cut through the clutter? How should traditional market leaders regain leadership? The new marketing kings of the 21st century will be the subject of my next column.
· 10 Common Marketing Challenges or Problems That Many Businesses Will face
These are some of them and if you work or manage your own business, you will surely feel identified with most of these issues:
1.- Not knowing how to explain the product or service you want to sell
Often, being an expert on a product doesn’t make you the best person to sell it.
You know the features of your product, the manufacturing steps, the materials used, the best applications, but you don’t know how to explain your product to the possible buyer, for whom all these hundreds of product features matter little because he is just looking for one of them.
Any item or service should be explained from the customer’s perspective. What is the customer looking for when evaluating this service or product?
Price, quality, reliability, for something that will solve a problem, that will make his life more comfortable, or elevate his social status.
The business owner, a freelancer, a merchant, a liberal professional, someone in charge of selling your products or services or vendors and clerks, waiters at bars and restaurants, all of them should receive training to learn how to sell your products, with instructions on how the product can help potential customers.
“Your product or service is not good because it’s yours, it’s good because your customers want to buy it.
This brings us to the next problem, especially at the beginning of any business:
2.- Not finding your market segment
Opening a business and think that all the inhabitants of the planet will love it is a very common mistake many entrepreneurs make.
But if this entrepreneur has a little idea about social networks or simply has many friends on his personal Facebook.
Let’s see some examples:
- A single person will not be interested in becoming a customer of a lawyer dedicated to Family Law (divorces).
- If a seller goes to a nursing home to sell articles for mountaineering, he will not be able to find potential customers.
- Distributing pamphlets in a high school with the Rolls Royce’s latest model is not a good strategy as it will not generate any sale.
Do you understand what I mean?
We all sell something to someone. The problem of small businesses and, above all, of the entrepreneurs who are starting, is that they don’t have much data to determine who is the ideal buyer for their product?
It is vital to pre-define your ideal buyer and your market segment.
By doing this, you will have a much clearer idea of the potential of your new business. If you find that there are only a few customers interested in your articles or services, you will know that you will have to create a targeted sales strategy to attract more customers. Perhaps you could think and act as a local business, or if your product has a larger audience, you could create an international sales strategy.
Also, you’ll know why your potential customers are looking for your product or service.
They may be attracted to the novelty (especially in technological products), they may be interested in price, quality, social status, in a temporary solution, etc.
Once you know what your ideal clients are looking for, you can explain better your product, and you will have more sales and more advantages.
3.- Lack of commercial department
The commercial department is one of the most relevant parts of any successful business. In times of financial crisis, a good commercial department can save your company.
So imagine what you can do during the good times. The problem is that we believe that only the commercial department can sell and that other departments don’t have to worry about it.
If you have a restaurant, all waiters should be good salespeople your store employees should be good salespeople, if you are a lawyer, you must learn to become a successful seller.
Organize your small or medium business so that everyone can learn how to sell your products or services.
Unfortunately, many companies don’t work hard enough to train all the collaborators to become vendors, people able to offer their products or services for potential customers.
If you have a sales section and you have created a sales department, let them do their work.
If someone stands out for his accomplishments, reward him, encourage other collaborators to learn from him. You should be the first to learn from him and try to improve.
A good salesperson can quickly identify what he will need to do to sell (he will work with his boss asked him to sell). A good seller knows how to approach potential customers, building customer loyalty, how to generate cross-selling (increasing revenue per customer and the company’s profits)
4.- Invisibility of your business
Promoting your business should be one of your main tasks if you want to become a businessperson. The problem arises when choosing the medium and the resources that will be used.
Advertising a company is very simple and can be very cheap.
But if you use a medium that is not appropriate and you address people who are not interested in your product or service, you will only have lost time and money.
Some of the platforms you can use to advertise your business are:
– Press releases, radio, and television (locally, regionally, nationally, internationally) or ads on different platforms on the Internet.
- Leaflets on car windshields, in mailboxes, in the hands of people passing by your store. Does it sound like “vintage”? But why not?
- Create a corporate blog, position it for your professional sector and start showing the advantages of your company and all the solutions you offer to improve the lives of your potential customers.
- Profiles and pages on social networks. Also, you can create paid ads on these social networks, as the latest changes on many algorithms don’t allow you to reach many people.
- Organize an event that also helps the community, so that the media will spread the word about the event and therefore help spread the word about your business.
- Even messages in WhatsApp can be a great way to publicize your business and more since the arrival of the new “WhatsApp Business. “
But each of these forms of advertising is more efficient for a type of business than to another.
Paying for an advertisement on a regional television channel if you run a small local business will not help you much.
If you have a blog, but don’t update it, to talk directly to your readers about the advantages of your business by posting articles, talking about your services, you are missing an incredible opportunity to create engagement with your visitors.
Instagram is a platform used mostly by women, most of them use this social network regularly. A priori, announce articles for men’s hygiene wouldn’t be a good option.
But as you know that this ad will be seen mostly by women, you can modify your campaign to convince them to buy your products for their husbands, boyfriends, companions, brothers. “
When it comes to advertising, the first thing to keep in mind is what you want to achieve. Once you determine your goal, you should investigate the market to find out which media or platforms are the best channels for your campaign.
●For example, posting an ad for men’s products in a magazine for girls and teenagers. MISTAKE
● Publishing the same ad in a magazine dedicated to football, cars, etc. GOOD STRATEGY
Local social networks and the online world are becoming vital for any marketing strategy. We all carry a smartphone in our pocket and when we need to get something, we can find it online:
“Where is the nearest open pharmacy to me, where to find a locksmith, Best places to have lunch.”
5.- Problems with the price of your product
You may think that the price of what you are selling is not essential for your marketing strategy. If that’s what you think, you are mistaken.
The price of the product is essential to the success of the company and should be perceived as “fair” by your customers.
Would you be willing to pay $ 1,000 for a can of Coke? Never.
You will have to determine the price of your product taking into account, first, your professional circumstances, and then try to find out how much your competitors are charging for the same products.
Perhaps your competitors may not have the mortgages you have to pay they may not need to pay the staff you have to pay, or they are on business for a long time, which means they can have some advantages or agreements with manufacturers or distributors and can offer more competitive prices that would make your business impractical.
This is why you must first determine how much you will need to charge for the product.
You will need to find out what the minimum amount you can charge is, so you don’t win or lose, the limit by which, if you charge less, you would lose money no matter the number of items you sell.
Once you know the price, the next step will be to “decorate” the product so your potential customers will buy from you and not from your competitors.
A coffee usually costs about the same in any bar, the quality of the service, the decoration, the environment, the professionalism of the waiters are what will make the difference.
Competing for prices is a dangerous strategy that, in the long term, usually will not work well. A few years ago, a baker dropped the price of bread.
For a while, he was very successful. He made very little money, but he was selling a lot of bread.
A few months ago, he announced he would have to close his bakeries, as he didn’t have money to pay his large debt. Along the way, dozens of bakeries that sold their products at higher prices also closed, as they couldn’t afford to offer the same prices.
Now a whole region of Spain doesn’t have any bakery people have to buy bread at supermarkets and gas stations. They can’t buy bread near their home.
6.- Lack of coordination between marketing and sales departments
Not all companies have seasonal sales, but all of them have peak sales and months with fewer sales.
Marketing actions should be coordinated with what should be sold in every period, but this doesn’t always happen.
You shouldn’t pay for an ad when your company doesn’t have the best products to offer. You may think this should be obvious, but many managers spend a lot of money on campaigns that will never bring good results for their marketing strategy.
If you access the social networks of several restaurants, you’ll see a clear example of what I’m saying. If you look for restaurants on Facebook, you will probably find many of them posting at 7 pm pictures of the food that was served for lunch.
What they should do at 7 o’clock in the afternoon is to talk about what their customers will find when they leave work, or the menu they will have for dinner.
What you need is for the marketing department to know what to sell and when to sell each product.
Following with the example of the restaurant. What is the benefit of posting photos of soup that is very popular during the winter, but we are not offering today because it is very hot? Who, in his right mind, will want to get soup in the middle of summer?
A store should not create a promotion for selling fans during the winter. A fashion store should not invest in ads to sell coats during the summer. We could give you many more examples, but I think you already understood what we are trying to say.
And that brings us to the next common marketing problem:
7.- Not having a marketing plan
Every company, large, small or medium has an established schedule, they know when they will allow their staff to go on vacation, they know when to pay their taxes, when to buy new products.
But very few companies, small and medium, have a marketing plan. It is vital to know which products or services should be advertised to encourage the sales, or when they should do it.
To create an effective marketing plan, you’ll need to know when it’s best to sell something or another.
For example, the number of divorces increases considerably in late summer, when couples return to their daily routine after the vacation. Lawyers will get more clients advertising their services in the late summer than during the holidays.
In early summer, many people start looking for gyms because they want to lose a few pounds. If you are preparing a marketing plan for a gym, this is the best time to start spreading your activities and attract some of these customers who are looking for a gym.
Planning means doing things at the right time, not just because you think you should try something different.
8.- Lack of Brand Image, Professional Reputation, Personal Branding
Every business has a certain reputation, whether negative, neutral or positive. Without this reputation, you can’t exist as a company.
The reputation will change and possibly improve over time. You should have a recognizable, differentiable brand image of your competitors.
The style you impose on your business, your decor, your professionalism, your products, your after-sales service. Many factors will help create a good brand image. A good professional reputation will be key to getting new customers and doing new business.
This reputation can make all the difference to customers who will have to decide, often unconsciously, if they will trust one brand or another. The example we can use here are the lawyers. A lawyer with a good reputation can get more money. If many people say this lawyer can win all the legal petitions, he will be the first choice of people who want to win their legal actions. The same thing happens with doctors, mechanics, dentists, etc.
If you can’t be recognized for your professionalism, you can try to create a positive reputation based on the decoration of your store, or how you help your customers, in a warm environment, or on other factors that are relevant to you and your customers.
Every company has to be clearly recognized and have a unique brand identity. Ideally, professionalism should be the main differential, but this is not absolutely necessary.
I’m thinking about the bad reputation of a well-known multinational store dedicated to fashion that always offer low prices.
Customers who enter their stores don’t receive help or good treatment from sellers (who usually just fold shirts), but many people continue to buy from them, due to a fundamental factor: quality and low price.
9.- Not having a good online presence
As we pointed out above, today everyone has a smartphone in their pocket connected to the internet. At any time, anyone can be looking for our items or products and if we are not online, we will lose those sales.
Having a good online presence is not having an outdated website,a blog in which you don’t publish anything, a page in a social network where you just advertise your articles, just a few photos.
A good online presence means that your website must be active and be functional. You need to offer several contact options, with an active support staff to help your customers to solve their problems and doubts so that they can trust you.
The same goes for emails.
Ricardo Llop, a reference in electronic commerce in Spain stated that the first thing he does when he enters his office is to respond to his emails.
And the last task he does before going home to rest is to answer the emails in his inbox. The difference between responding to an email now or leaving a customer waiting for 8 hours is that you will sell more if you provide fast support.
With social networks, you need to be just as careful. They should not be your primary sales channel. Think about your social networks as a thematic television channel about your business. You should create a channel where visitors can find information about decoration, travel (on the theme of your sector and the products you are selling). You can use this channel to talk about your products, but not just about them.
It is obvious that if you own a restaurant, you should advertise your menu on your social networks.
But if you really want to attract followers, you need to talk about more than that, for example on the products used in the meals, with general tips about how to improve eating habits, etc.
Also, all social networks have options for sending and receiving private messages. It is a perfect sales and after-sales channel. You should also always respond to all comments from your customers and followers.
Responding to these comments is fundamental to show to your customers that you are listening to them.
10.- To think that marketing is not necessary.
Believing that we are the best, that we know everything we have to do to sell our product is a very common mistake that many entrepreneurs make, especially in the beginning, when they are still full of ideas for their new business.
Believing that people will run to your store just because you say you have the best product at the best price is a mistake that will end up costing you a lot of money.
Marketing, as we have seen throughout this article (and in the definition you read in the beginning) is a set of actions created for selling your products.
No business survives without marketing it doesn’t matter what you do, you will have to work with some of the marketing actions we described in this post.
The problem is something that we have already explained. A good strategy means applying the appropriate actions at the right time, using the best channel for each campaign, so that we can have the expected results: We all want to sell more products and attract new customers.
How Many Entrepreneurs Create Untimely Marketing Strategies That Don’t bring the desired results? When they spend money and don’t get new customers, they end up believing that marketing will not work for them.
6. Cold Calls
Unpleasant? Yes. Important? Yes.
Cold calling—whether it happens over the phone or door to door—is a baptism of fire for many small businesses. Cold calling forces you to sell yourself as well as your business. If people can’t buy you (the person talking to them), then they won’t buy anything from you. Over the phone you don’t have the benefit of a smile or face-to-face conversation—a phone is a license for people to be as caustic and abrupt as possible (we are all guilty of this at one time or another). However, cold calling does make you think on your feet and encourages creativity and adaptability when facing potential customers.
A combination of old-fashioned pounding the pavement and modern-day pounding the keyboard will provide the best results for a small business looking to market itself.
The Internet is used by online and offline companies to promote products or services. Banner ads, pop up ads, text ads and paid search placements are common forms. Banner, pop up and text ads are ways to present an image or message on a publisher's website or on a number of websites through a third-party platform like Google's Adwords program. Paid search placements, also known as cost-per-click advertising, is where you bid a certain amount to present your link and text message to users of search engines like Google and Yahoo!
Why Use Grassroots Marketing?
Although grassroots marketing can be highly effective, many brands fail to see why this type of marketing campaign can be more advantageous than, say, a typical PPC or paid social campaign.
There are several reasons you should consider using grassroots marketing.
- It’s remarkably cost effective. With smaller, more targeted audiences (more on this in a second) comes significantly lower expenditure. This is a major selling point of grassroots marketing, particularly for companies with limited budgets.
- It makes smaller, more targeted campaigns viable. Although the audiences typically targeted by grassroots marketing campaigns are smaller and highly segmented, this specificity often precludes them from larger PPC and paid social campaigns. A grassroots effort can therefore open up new opportunities that may not be otherwise cost-effective.
- It capitalizes on existing social trends and gives audiences what they want – direct interaction with a brand. Socially responsive brands are often perceived much more favorably than companies that ignore their followings, so taking a proactive approach and directly appealing to your social fans is a great way to engage with your audience and leverage that desire for an interactive social experience.
Why Small Companies Fail
1. Starting for the Wrong Reason
According to Forbes, more than 500,000 businesses are started each month — many for the wrong reason. Case in point, an electrician who worked for a building contractor decided that he no longer needed to answer to an employer and could do better financially by stepping out on his own.
What he failed to realize, however, was that although he had the skills to do the electrical work, he lacked the acumen to manage a business successfully. Over time, his enthusiasm waned. He shut down his fledgling company and, happily, went back to work for his previous employer.
Unlike the unfortunate electrician, you stand a much better chance of success if you start your business for the right reasons. These include having a passion for what you’ll be doing, a positive mindset that keeps you going when others give up and a willingness to learn the skills needed to run a business.
2. Insufficient Capital
Starting a business without sufficient operating capital is almost certainly a death-knell. Not only that but many new business owners underestimate the perils of riding the cash flow roller coaster. In fact, according to Hiscox’s 2015 DNA of an Entrepreneur Report, 21 percent of US entrepreneurs have resorted to using their credit cards to fund their businesses.
Failure to manage cash flow is what caused one marketing consultant to lose his business. Used to a regular paycheck, he failed to realize that clients can take weeks or even months to pay. Being forced to take on expensive loans just to survive left him with no choice but to shutter his business and find a job with another firm. Protecting your capital before you start your business gives you a good buffer for the ebbs and flow in your business. In fact as per Hiscox Business Insurance, one third of small business owners don’t have insurance and one in three small business owners get sued even if they haven’t made a mistake and have to spend a chunk of their capital combating lawsuits. Getting the right liability insurance for your business is the first step to helping you manage your cash flow better.
Before starting a company, it is vital to ascertain how much money you will need to cover startup costs and to keep the business running for the first year or two. Use a startup calculator like this one from the Wall Street Journal. Also, sit down with a financial advisor or SCORE mentor to discuss your plans.
3. Improper Planning
Lack of proper planning is another common reason small companies fail and go out of business. All too often, entrepreneurs focused on achieving their dream of financial independence fail to take the painstaking but necessary step of creating a strategic business plan that factors in components such as workforce needs, analysis of competitors, sales and expense forecasts and marketing budgets.
One burgeoning entrepreneur, enthralled with the idea of becoming a salon owner, started her business without first conducting market research to see if the area could support such an endeavor. Try as she might, she was never able to build a customer base strong enough to keep her doors open.
To better ensure success, take whatever time you need to create an effective business plan. Many companies have software to make the job easier and faster. It doesn’t have to be reams of pages long — some companies even offer one-page plans. Regardless of length, planning is critical.
4. Poor Management and Leadership
Effective management and leadership skills are essential to business-building success, and a lack of either can lead to confusion and conflict within the ranks, poor morale and reduced productivity.
Make it a priority to acquire the skills needed to strengthen areas where you know you are weak. Read books on leadership from authors such as John Maxwell, Stephen Covey, Peter Drucker and Sheryl Sandberg join peer advisory groups like Vistage or take an online course in leadership from Dale Carnegie.
The bottom line: Your employees look to you for leadership — so lead!
5. Expanding Too Quickly
More than one company has experienced bankruptcy as a result of the business owner’s reach exceeding his grasp concerning expansion.
Decide about expansion only after carefully reviewing, researching and analyzing what you will need regarding new employees, facilities and systems. While it may be feasible to do much of the work yourself early in the life of your business, that won’t be the case after your expand. Just keep in mind, slow and steady wins the race.
6. Failure to Advertise and Market
An adage says, “When business is good, it pays to advertise when business is bad, you have to advertise.”
Many companies go out of business purely because the owner failed to promote and market. The “if you build it, they will come” mentality doesn’t work in an age when consumers can choose from among a multiplicity of options. You have to get your message seen and heard.
While traditional methods of advertising are still useful, one of the best ways to market your business is with a website. Even in 2016, nearly half (46 percent) of all small businesses do not have one, according to a report from the research firm Clutch. So just by creating a site, which you can do using any number of self-service platforms, you put yourself ahead of many of your competitors.
While you’re at it, set up profiles on social networks where your customers gather. Also, start an email newsletter and advertise on Google and Facebook — both of which are inexpensive ways to build a presence online.
7. Lack of Differentiation
You’ve heard of the term, “Unique Value Proposition” (UVP, for short). That describes the qualities, characteristics, products or services that differentiate a business from its competitors. The problem is, too few businesses actually have a UVP, or they fail to make it clear what theirs is — probably because they don’t know themselves.
To determine your value proposition, use a tool like the Value Proposition Canvas, which makes it explicit how you create value for your customers and even helps you to design products and services your customers want. Once you know the UVP, communicate it clearly, to customers and staff.
8. Unwillingness to Delegate
Entrepreneurs can often be their own worst enemies in that they seek to do everything themselves. One extreme example comes from a CEO of a small but growing engineering firm who, after 10 years was still emptying the dishwasher in the employee break room.
As an entrepreneur, you may think, “No one can do it better than me.” Or, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” Or, “I can’t trust anyone else with this responsibility.” That attitude can lead to a sense of overwhelm and burnout.
The remedy: Learn to delegate busywork (emptying a dishwasher certainly qualifies) to others while concentrating on the tasks that contribute to the growth of the company, like casting vision and grooming others for positions of leadership.
9. Unprofitable Business Model
Just because you have a business idea about which you’re excited doesn’t mean it’s a good one. That’s where creating a business plan, conducting marketing research and seeking the advice of others can be a lifesaver.
Also, it pays to ask yourself questions like: Is there a customer base for this product or service? Is there a proven revenue model? How long would it take to bring the business to market and at what cost?
10. Underestimating the Competition
A final reason worth mentioning for why companies go out of business is underestimating the competition.
Even if you have a sound business model, plenty of funds to operate and the necessary management skills to be successful, you still face one daunting challenge: the competition.
You may be a David surrounded by several Goliaths that’s particularly true if you’re in the retail trade, located where there is an abundance of big box stores.
Also, you have to consider disruptive startups who may be building a better, cheaper, faster, more convenient, higher-quality mousetrap.
To increase your chance of success, conduct a competitive analysis as part of your overall market analysis. Assess your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses and implement strategies to improve your competitive advantage.
The Bottom Line
Overall, advertising is a powerful medium that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Whether you’re printing a message on small business promotional items like pens and water bottles, or on a grander scale on billboards and yard signs, it’s important that you’re mindful of the words you’re using and what they may mean.
Your ads can send an important message to the public beyond selling your products. Make sure you’re always sending the right one!