Managing your marketing as a small business is tough at the best of times. Having a physical job like a painter and decorator only makes it harder.
Afterall, the last thing you must want to do after a long day is think about marketing.
However, every successful business needs marketing. So there is no sense in trying to avoid it.
90% of the people who come to me with marketing problems are usually making at least one of the following mistakes.
Here’s how to make sure you don’t make them too.
- Not having a plan
You can’t do a successful decorating job without planning what you’re going to do.
The same goes for marketing. You need a clearly defined goal and a plan to help you get there.
Without a plan, you end up being reactive to situations and this leads to you wasting money.
The time to do your marketing is when work is busy. NOT when it’s quiet.
If you wait until things are quiet before you start marketing, you are being reactive to the situation. This leads to you being frantic and less resourceful. You end up randomly hitting ‘boost post’ on Facebook, you start getting leaflets printed up and paying extra for next day delivery. You go from spending nothing on marketing, to spending hundreds of pounds in a few days.
This is not a good place to be.
Instead, you are better off planning your marketing strategy out and spending small amounts of money on a consistent basis.
Define a monthly budget that is manageable, no matter how small, and then plan how to get the most out of your money.
Consistency is the key.
2. Trying to be everything to everyone
When it comes to marketing your business, it pays to be as clear as possible about what you do, who you do it for and where you do it.
There is a saying in sales and marketing that is very appropriate for this:
‘If you confuse, you lose’.
Essentially this means that if it is not crystal clear what you’re offering, or you are giving too much choice then you’ll confuse your target customers, and they’ll end up not buying anything.
For example, let’s say you’re a decorator with a range of skills, however, 90% of your work is interior kitchen refurbishment jobs. Because that’s what you enjoy and that’s what you’re best at.
How would you advertise?
Here are 2 examples. The first one is what most people do, the second is a better approach:
Message 1: ‘Painter and Decorator: interior and exterior, both commercial and residential’
Message 2: ‘Oxford based interior decorator specialising in high end kitchen refurbishment’.
Both sentences are 10 words long. The first one is very wishy washy and in it’s effort to appeal to a wide audience, it actually appeals to nobody.
But the second message speaks directly to the customers you are trying to attract.
To get more of the business you want you need to do two things: Establish who you are best at serving and create a message that speaks specifically to them.
3. Not trying new things
The world is constantly evolving, and you need to keep up. If you don’t try out new things, you’ll almost certainly get left behind.
Wouldn’t it have been great to have been one of the first businesses advertising on Facebook or Google? It was ridiculously cheap, and you could have exploded the growth of your business…if only you’d have known.
Well, nobody knows what the next big thing will be, so you need to be open to trying new things.
You don’t need to throw money at every new thing that pops up but add it to your marketing plan and budget.
I suggest you spend 80% of your time and budget on things you know work.
Then spend the other 20% on trying new things.
4. Putting all your eggs in one basket.
In an effort to keep things simple, people often put all of their marketing ‘eggs’ in one basket.
They rely solely on word of mouth. Or they only advertise in the local paper. Or only run one small ad on Facebook each month.
It’s always worked, so why change?
Well, what if the newspaper shuts down tomorrow? Or the referrals you get aren’t the sort of customers you really want.
What if a new social media platform comes along and everyone stops using Facebook?
If this happens, your only source of new customers disappears with it.
Aim to have at least 3 – 5 ways of generating new customers so that you are protected from issues like this.
5. Not utilising social media
3.6 billion people are said to be on social media.
If it is not part of your marketing strategy, then what the hell are you doing?
We live in a world where people use the internet to research a business before they deal with them.
If someone can’t find you on social media, they are less likely to call you.
Not just that.
Social media (particularly Facebook) is probably the best pound for pound option you have for advertising.
You can be super targeted, and it is really cheap.
Even if you don’t spend money on adverts, having a social media presence is crucial.
Try the 80/20 rule again.
Spend 80% of your time on the platform that you like the best and gives you the best results. Spend the other 20% of your time maintaining a presence on all the others.
10-15 minutes a day is all you need to do.
6. Failing to measure and review.
When you do any sort of marketing it is crucial that you measure and review the results on a continuous basis.
Having a monthly plan and budget will help you do this.
Be sure to ask every customer how they heard about you and keep a record of it.
At the end of each month take the time to see what is working and what isn’t.
Then divert 80% of your budget to what is working.
And tinker with everything else to see if you can improve it.
7. Thinking you don’t need to do any advertising.
This is probably the biggest and most common mistake I see.
McDonald’s dont NEED to advertise, but they do. Apple don’t NEED to. But they do. Why shouldn’t you?
Usually what happens is that once the business starts going well, and you have a bank of regular customers, you think you don’t need to advertise any more.
Unfortunately, this is a big mistake.
Any business, in any sector should expect to lose 15% of their regular customers every year due to circumstances out of their control. No matter what you do, this happens.
These customers need to be replaced.
Word of mouth will get you so far, but it is not reliable.
If you consistently advertise then you can bring in a steady stream of new business.
The plan should be that every year you can replace your bottom 15% of customers with better ones.
Customers who pay your new higher prices. Customers who value your skills more.
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