Advertising
Advertising

The Most Common Marketing Challenge Small Businesses Face And How To Solve It

The Most Common Marketing Challenge Small Businesses Face And How To Solve It

After offering marketing and branding services to small businesses and entrepreneurs for over 13 years, I’ve noticed one common challenge they all face — they don’t have a purpose-driven story that’s aligned to their customers’ needs.

What exists instead is a story that is patched together, continually changing, that tries to please everyone and doesn’t ultimately honor their original existence. Overall, their story is inconsistent across the brand and usually only focuses on them. This results in their ideal customers struggling to connect with the brand or even establish how the business addresses their needs.

So why are so many businesses getting it wrong?

There are probably a number of reasons why companies skip this crucial step to sustainably build their business.

Advertising

One reason could be due to the ever-changing customer landscape which drives different marketing demands and needs. Another reason could be that while initially having a clear purpose about the product or service they want to offer the world, somewhere along the path to making a profit a company’s reason for existence and clarity on who they are serving was lost in their story, or was never communicated to start with.

Most businesses and entrepreneurs are stuck in a WHAT or HOW story. What their product does, what services they are offering, or how their product or service compares to others in the marketplace. Although this information is important to communicate, it should come secondary.

Marketing is essentially about communicating to your target audience why your product or service is the best solution for their needs and getting them to take action. Whether you use marketing psychology, branding, or the latest online viral techniques, achieving this is the main purpose behind your actions.

Advertising

What can be done to get it right?

Whether I’ve been engaged as head of marketing, to build a website, develop a brand, or to complete copywriting for a company, I always start with a business visioning exercise to build the business foundation and develop a purpose-based story. Without this, all my efforts are wasted and will continually need to be duplicated as the story changes.

Advertising dollars and good marketing teams can’t make up for an unclear story and brand. If you aren’t clear on your purpose and whom you are serving, then how will your customers be clear you are the best solution to their needs? As companies evolve and pivot their services and products, the original purpose of the company shouldn’t change. Having a purpose-driven story in place allows you to survive even when market conditions or the company focus changes.

In this information age where customers have more choice, the demand for personalization and relevancy in their communications from businesses needs to become the norm. Companies still stuck in “it’s all about us” stories will automatically lose to companies incorporating their purpose into their “it’s all about you” story to their customers.

Advertising

In a nutshell, customers care about themselves and how a product or service is going to improve their lives. They connect through emotions, which can be communicated through a vision/movement and pointing out how you can address their pain points.

To create a purpose-driven story that aligns to your customers needs, the following questions need to be clearly addressed and communicated:

  • The ultimate purpose of your business
  • The why, how, and what of your business
  • Your brand personality
  • What problem you are solving in the marketplace
  • Who your customers are and their needs
  • The challenges your customers face and what solutions you offer
  • Your company language and main keywords

Investing time and money in this investigative and creative process, whether internally or through a marketing and branding consultant, will save your business time and money in the long run.

Advertising

Featured photo credit: Death to the stock photo via deathtothestockphoto.com

More by this author

Kelly Weiss

Purpose-driven business + lifestyle coach

5 Steps to Choosing Expansive New Year’s Resolutions How to make decisions from a place of love rather than fear The Most Common Marketing Challenge Small Businesses Face And How To Solve It 5 Ways To Cultivate Inner Peace 5 Meditative Chair Exercises Guaranteed To Promote Work Productivity

Trending in Entrepreneur

1 13 Characteristics of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs 2 How to Start Working for Yourself and Become Your Own Boss 3 Top 5 Easy-to-Use Accounting Software for Small Businesses 4 10 Best Success Books You Need to Read to Be Great at Business 5 16 Young And Successful Entrepreneurs Who Prove That Age Is Nothing but a Number

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

Advertising

“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

Advertising

The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

Advertising

You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

Advertising

Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

Read Next