It’s no secret that small business marketing challenges can create huge hurdles for business owners who already wear a million hats. Truth be told, business owners have to deal with vendors, keep customers happy, fostering a great company culture for employees, and manage their inventory—all while ensuring they’re advancing the business forward along the right path, one that keeps money coming in and maintains compliance with an assortment of laws that apply to their industries. When it comes down to it, marketing oftentimes tends to fall to the bottom of the priority list for many small business owners, even though it’s often the element that can keep new customers coming through the door.
2020 has been an uniquely difficult year, and we can bet you’d be hard-pressed to find any publications from this time last year that even remotely addressed what small business owners ended up going through this year. Now, with a little time and insight on our side, we can offer you a look into the future. Here are 18 small business marketing challenges you should prepare to face in 2021 (in no particular order):
1. Lack of Resources
It can be easy to run out of resources, whether that means money, people, or time.
To overcome this challenge: Create a budget based on past performance and realistic expectations to achieve your goals in 2021.
Invest in building a company culture that attracts the best talent. If you already have a great culture, be patient with your hiring so you find the best people for your needs and so you’re not rushing to fill vacant spots.
Also, be sure to manage your time by becoming more efficient in what you do with all aspects of your online marketing by adopting an all-in-one local marketing platform.
2. Lack of Leads and Pipeline
You need continuous qualified leads in order to make your revenue flow. That’s a no brainer. If you’re not getting new leads and building your pipeline, your revenue stream will soon dry up. And the best time to build your pipeline is when you already have a filled pipeline.
To overcome this challenge: Launch paid ads on Google, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, and anywhere else it makes sense to attract qualified leads. Consider adding a chat service and automated booking system to your website to make it easy for potential customers to gather as much of the information they’re looking for as easily as possible. Additionally, be sure to plan out your offers and content far in advance so you can schedule your posts and send your ads into the universe at times when it will make the most sense to your audience. You want to cast as wide of a net as possible (your online presence) so that no matter where prospective customers look, you’ll be there.
3. Lack of Visibility into Activities and Results
How do you know how well your marketing campaigns are performing if you’re not monitoring the progress of your efforts and analyzing resulting metrics? You have to have a clear path into the projects you’re undertaking and the effects your efforts are having. Without clear visibility, your results will be lost.
To overcome this challenge: Look for a tool that provides a snapshot of all your work together in one place, whether it’s channel-specific (like social media) or marketing as a whole. Managing your marketing (or business as a whole) with spreadsheets is not the way to advance your business forward. Instead, look for tools that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to accomplish things that a human being simply can’t keep up with on their own.
4. Building an Online Presence
What exactly is an online presence? Is it having a website? Well, sure, that’s part of it. But, these days, it’s so much more. For starters, it’s about being on the appropriate social channels, creating fresh content, and placing your ads in the places that make the most sense. Without a great online presence, you’re losing out on innumerable possibilities.
To overcome this challenge: Deploy a local marketing strategy that covers the essential building blocks for a strong online presence. Look for software that’ll help you automate a lot of your marketing needs so you can free up time to be spent on improving your business.
Suggested Reading: Getting Started with Your Local Marketing Strategy
5. Increasing Visibility in Local Searches
It’s tough for small businesses to be seen, but catching the attention of local consumers is where success lies. Getting in where you fit in, so to speak, is both an art and a science.
To overcome this challenge: Run targeted Google Ads and Google Local Services Ads to get placed at the top of Google searches for your specific zip codes. Do your best to get more reviews and optimize your Google My Business listing so the search engine knows who you are and what you’re all about. It’s also important to optimize your website with local schema and structured data that Google’s algorithm is trained to look for.
6. Managing Workflow
Keeping tabs on everybody and everything can really hamper the business ownership experience if you’re working with sticky notes and outdated processes.
To overcome this challenge: Look for a tool that captures all of your work in a single place so you’re able to see the progress you’re making on all campaigns and activities at one time. That way you can rest easy knowing no lead is left behind; no review is left unresponded.
7. Consistent Execution of Marketing Campaigns
Part of building a cohesive brand voice is being consistent across your messaging. This isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds, particularly when your day-to-day work gets in the way.
To overcome this challenge: Start with a plan so you know what you need to do, then manage your time in a way that allows you to stay on schedule with your marketing. Always automate tasks whenever possible. This will not only free up your time, but it can also help alleviate human errors in the process.
For example, the Surefire Local Marketing Platform allows you to manage the entire content creation process in one place, from writing to reviewing, approving and scheduling.
8. Creating Quality Content
Speaking of content, are you having trouble coming up with fresh, new ideas for your content? The search engines are more likely to rank you higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs) if you’re cranking out content on an ongoing basis, but the trick is, it has to be valuable and relevant to readers.
To overcome this challenge: Perform an audit on your customer base and identify your audience’s biggest pain points and struggles. Then, use this information to brainstorm ideas for your content. Focus on quality content that resonates with your readers.
9. Managing Online Reviews
Reviews can often make or break a business. Depending on how you respond to reviews (whether they’re positive or negative) can greatly impact the way people view your brand as a whole. If you haven’t made an effort to get more reviews and only have a handful of positive ones, it only takes one negative review to cause your average star rating to plummet.
To overcome this challenge: Set up alerts so you can see when new reviews get posted. Be sure to claim your listings in places like Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp. It’s important to incorporate a software that allows you to manage your reputation all in one place. The right tool will enable you to:
- Send out review requests one by one or send in bulk
- Post replies to customers’ reviews
- Obtain analytics that review your average star rating across your entire online presence
- Identify the words that appear most often in your reviews
- Leverage A.I. and email marketing to automate the review request process
10. Running Paid Ad Campaigns While Maximizing Your ROI
None of this effort is worth it if it doesn’t bring in the cash, right? You need to be sure that your time and money is well-spent while it’s also bringing in more money.
To overcome this challenge: Look for an advertising partner who can run and manage your ads for you. Managing Google Ads campaigns on its own is a complex, full time job. Plus there’s Facebook, Bing, and plenty of other channels worth advertising on. Work with an advertising partner to set goals and be sure to meet each month to review your campaigns’ progress and discuss new ideas.
11. Building a Social Media Presence
Having an online presence is one thing; having a social media presence can be a whole different animal. For many, this is one of the small business marketing challenges that’s more overwhelming than any other obstacle, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
To overcome this challenge: Pick the primary channels that you’ll focus the bulk of your time on and go all-in on making the most of those platforms. Work with a scheduling tool to manage the process of creating, reviewing, approving, and publishing content.
12. Creating a Great Customer Journey Experience
If your customers get frustrated as they journey their way down the sales funnel, they’ll lose interest and go to your competitors. Your job, as a small business leader, is to keep your customers engaged so they go from “interested” to “I’m a paying customer” to “I love this company so much I want to recommend them to everyone I know”.
To overcome this challenge: Leverage automation and artificial intelligence to provide a seamless transition from each stage of the buyer’s journey. Set up automated email drip marketing campaigns to nurture prospects through the funnel, and be sure to continue the process with ongoing customer-retention campaigns that remind your customers that you are always there for them.
13. Keeping Up with Trends and Technology
Things change quickly these days, and keeping up with these changes in trends and technologies can be a full-time job.
To overcome this challenge: Join groups on social media and online forums so you can stay connected and up-to-date on what’s going on. Sign up for newsletters and set up a filter in your email platform that funnels these emails into a specific list so you can easily find them at a moment’s notice whenever you have a few minutes to read one. Or find a digital marketing partner who’s experienced in this stuff so you can lean on them when you need help, too.
14. Adopting New Technologies
Speaking of changes, it’s not just your existing technologies that change; there are also a variety of new tools being introduced into the universe every day, some that make marketing a whole lot easier and manageable.
To overcome this challenge: Consider implementing an all-in-one solution instead of finding separate tools for individual services, such as advertising, reputation management, social media, website audits, and so forth.
15. Establishing Your Competitive Advantage
What makes you special? Why should someone choose your business over the next guy’s? You need to know these answers and have a strong understanding in order to attract customers into your sales funnel, but these are often hard questions for small business owners to answer.
To overcome this challenge: Brainstorm the elements that make your business unique and create an action plan that’ll put your competitive advantage at the forefront of your brand’s messaging.
16. Engaging Your Customers
You can’t keep new customers coming in if they’re not engaging with your brand. This can be tricky when you already have a million other things to do each day.
To overcome this challenge: Create email marketing campaigns and contests to keep consumers coming back for more. Be sure to design appreciation posts on social media that tout the support you’re receiving from your customer base. This can serve two purposes. Firstly, it engages your customer base and indirectly encourages them to refer others to your business. Secondly, it helps retain customers who become customers for life.
17. Measuring Marketing Effectiveness Across Channels
You won’t know you’ve been successful until you can actually see the results in numbers and data. If you don’t have metrics in place and the tools implemented to measure those metrics, you’ll never know how well you’re doing.
To overcome this challenge: Set up tracking and analytical tools that measure performance. You’ll want to rely on a system that can generate reports, which provide data-driven insights for improvement.
18. Finding the Right Partner to Help Your Business Scale
Growth is important, but growing too much too quickly can actually hinder your overall success. How do you attract new customers while staying true to the mission and vision you want your brand to represent?
To overcome this challenge: Be mindful that there are significant pros and cons to consider when you’re thinking about keeping your marketing in-house versus hiring an agency to do everything for you. At Surefire Local, we think the best choice is a true partnership—one where you get the software to run things your way (with guidance and support from a partner), while also taking the lead whenever you feel it’s necessary.
Request a Demo of the Surefire Local Marketing Platform
Overcome all of these challenges and thrive in 2021 with Surefire Local. We are a software company first and foremost and not the traditional agency you’re likely familiar with. We provide you with a next-generation software with a user-friendly platform that is available everywhere you need it, across devices and browsers. Our platform leverages technology and marketing artificial intelligence to make improvements to your online presence that a person just can’t possibly keep up with on their own. Having said that, you could get paired with your own digital marketing strategist if you’d like. That person becomes a part of your team and works with you to build a strategy around your goals and then execute it.
Request a demo today!