Britta Jackson is a serial entrepreneur and co-owner of alder|creative, providing consulting and graphic design to small businesses and non-profits in Grays Harbor (and beyond) since 2013. She works from her home in Aberdeen with her husband and 1 year old daughter and enjoys live music, reading business books, and vacationing in small towns.

While I like to do my best to stay on the positive side of life, I also think that sometimes it’s worth looking at things from the other side. If I wrote you a list of “Ways to market your business,” I’m betting that you’d ignore it. You’ve seen plenty of lists of things to do and you might think they apply to you and your business, or you might not.

But how about a list of common mistakes I see every day? Not just in Grays Harbor, but across many communities and businesses. I hope to pinpoint these issues more effectively by showing the mistakes… and hopefully it will also be a little more clear on how you can fix them.

1. No Website

Yes. It is 2018. I’ve been using a computer in my home to email and download music for 20 years. I’ve been on Facebook for 15 years. I started my first blog/website 12 years ago…. Why do you still refuse to have a website?

Websites are about as important as being listed in the phone book was 20 years ago. If you think your Facebook page is a replacement, consider your user experience. If someone is looking for a business/product/service like yours but doesn’t specifically know you or can’t remember your business name. How will they find you?

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Maybe a quick google search? Your website should be easy to find and have all of the information they’re looking for: Location, Hours, Product/Services offered, a little about you and contact information.

Even a single page website will do it. DIY it. Hire someone. Just get it online.

2. Invisible Signage (Or None at all)

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If you are a brick & mortar business, you need a good sign. It doesn’t have to be expensive or light up, but it does need to be visible and readable.

If you’re putting vinyl on your glass windows/door, please use white or a light color. Anything dark will basically be invisible or go unnoticed.

If you’re on a main road where people are driving by quickly, less is more. Large text with a few words to describe what you offer.. Skip the decorative scrolls and photorealistic images of trees. It only causes visual clutter when you might have less than 1 second to grab a passersby attention.

3. One and Done Advertising

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Buying a single advertisement is a really great way to throw away money. Even posting something on your Facebook or Instagram profile once or twice will only lead to a very small number of customers even seeing it in the first place.

Advertising requires strategy and multiple touchpoints to have any real effect.

If you’re promoting a sale, opening a new business, hosting an event… brainstorm at least 10 ways you can reach potential customers and divvy up your marketing budget and efforts across those pathways. This might include a print ad, a press release, Facebook/Instagram (which these probably need 10 posts each on their own to count as 1 touchpoint), a live video, email newsletter, posters, radio interviews, etc. If you really want to make a real splash, do as many of these as possible, but at least 10.

4. Ignoring Bad Reviews

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I’ve heard so many local business complain about their Yelp reviews and literally ask me how they can delete them…

Ummm you can’t.

What you can do is offer some positive customer service and attempt to resolve the issue, keeping in mind that some people just don’t want to be helped… but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

I recently went to a restaurant that had an incredibly long wait time and I was obviously agitated. Instead of trying to mitigate the issue, the restaurant server simply said “sorry” a lot. What would have helped regain my compassion? A freebie while we waited… something small even, like a cup of coffee, is enough to get customers back on your good side. Or, a discount on the final bill. Or even a coupon to return for a free or discounted meal.

I know it can feel like someone who has bad words about your business is essentially telling you your baby is ugly, but this is a business and your job is to have customers want to give you your their money over and over again. One happy customer is potentially worth hundreds or thousands of dollars to your business over their lifetime. One unhappy customer will likely cost you thousands or much more, as they will likely tell their friends about the negative experience.

Do all that you can to regain their confidence in your business!

Want more inspiration on this topic? Check out the book: Hug Your Haters

5. Missing Out on Real Life Networking Opportunities

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Yes, digital marketing is a great way to get the word out about your business to a large region with fairly little investment, but we live in a small community and it’s very likely that your business’s ideal customers are also your next door neighbors, fellow business owners, and other professionals.

And do you know the quickest and most effective way to gain trust in your business? Showing up and meeting people in real life.

Being present will help you build trust in your brand and business. And for you introverts, here are some tips. Smile. Say “hello, how are you?” Ask questions and be genuinely interested in learning about someone else. Don’t feel like you need to pitch your business all the time, but rather, think about building authentic relationships with people.

HYPE is a great way to meet people – but only if we all show up willing and interested! I hope to see you all at the next HYPE meeting on Thursday, September 6th at 5:00pm. This is a great opportunity to meet other young professionals in the area and start building your personal brand in the community.

If you’re not sure what to discuss with those you meet, how about this article? Did you find it helpful? Have you seen these marketing mistakes in the area? What if every. single. business. in Grays Harbor made these changes? How much more of a vibrant business community could be possible?

Also, please comment and share your thoughts, questions and topics of interest for future blog posts!

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