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Top 5 Small Business Marketing Challenges in 2018

Being in business is tricky business! There’s access to finances, taxes, demanding customers, pain in the backside employees, stock control, machine breakages to name a few. On top of all that there’s always new laws and regulations to get your head around otherwise face hefty fines…and then there’s the demands of marketing.

In this article we discuss what the top 5 marketing challenges for small business are in 2018 and how to tackle them!

Top 5 marketing challenges for small business

1) Insufficient funds for marketing

Access to funding is a real issue for small businesses as without ‘budget’ most marketing plans are scuppered before they’ve even started. Everything costs money and marketing is not always top of the list when it comes to setting up a new business. It starts with needing the basics such as logo and business cards, and then growing into an almighty ‘marketing beast’ seemingly overnight. Accessing marketing talent can mean paying someone to work for you as an employee or outsourcing. “Who can I trust with my marketing?”

Gold piggy bank - Clear Goal Marketing

Accessing the right skills and the right personality fit for your business can be difficult. There are lot of DIY ‘Do-it-yourself’ marketing tools available that may seem like a great idea to start with, however it can be difficult to find the time and to get it right. There always comes a point when extra help is needed.

Any basic marketing you developed hastily in the beginning can always be replaced later-on with bigger and bolder, more sophisticated marketing. Your marketing can grow with your business as more funds become available to invest.

2. Lack of Time

Marketing really is time-consuming although it might not seem like it at the beginning when you’re developing everything else alongside. Then you reach a point that you need to increase your marketing efforts such as: building an audience and mailing lists, finding leads, maintaining regular and consistent contact with customers and potentials, churning-out consistent engaging communications, feeding social media channels, blogging, managing events...the list just keeps on growing.

Time for marketing

Everyone’s time is limited. The secret is finding out what works for your business and developing a marketing plan that delivers and is SMART. It’s useful to know how long things take too, as not to over-stretch yourself and throw out the planning process entirely. How much resource and time will you need to achieve your business marketing goals?

3. Poor Strategy Planning

Developing a marketing strategy is often the best place to start!

How will you know where you want to go if you don’t have a plan?

How will you know when you’ve arrived?

How will you know what time and resources you may need to get there?

How will you know you’re on track?

How much of your marketing will be traditional vs digital marketing?

Traditional marketing - (brochures, newsletters, flyers, printed advertising, point of sale, packaging, direct mail, radio, billboards). Benefits: materials can be kept my customers are browsed over time. Downside: can be expensive, seen as old-fashioned and success is poorly measured.

Digital marketing – (Website development & SEO, social media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, blogging and online news channels: medium). Benefits: cost efficient and more measurable, audience can choose how they receive your content, direct interaction, instant action, potential of going viral. Downside: loss of control, bad service can go viral, can be more time-consuming than you think. Read our blog here on how to plan a successful digital marketing strategy.

Many businesses struggle with getting the right balance between traditional and digital marketing. There are lots of scams online claiming 100% success and fast results with 6-7 figure incomes.

4. Target Audience Connection

Client Avatar - find ideal client through marketing

Are you marketing efforts being ignored?

Are you attracting the right audience with your message?

Do you know who your target audience is?

Lots of companies fail to pin-point their ideal customer and try and spread their marketing too broad, creating mixed messages and confusion.

Be clear on who you are selling to…

Who is your ideal client?

What do the look like? What do they want?

What is their biggest problem?

How do they buy?

What is the best way to communicate with them?

Check out how to develop your own customer avatar with a free worksheet here.

Remember that just because you market your business it does not mean that customers will automatically buy. It takes time for the fruits of your labours to harvest.

Consider how you are going to move your potential customers along your sales funnel towards making the ultimate purchase, and how you will keep them in your funnel buying again and referring you to their friends and family.

5. Future-proofing

Unfortunately, everything moves at 100 miles an hour now and that includes marketing. Read our blog on how to keep up with a forever digital changing marketing landscape. It can be hard for small businesses to keep up with the constant pressure of technological change.

Leaving the rat-race of being employed is quickly replaced by the pressure of competing in a complex digital world of marketing that leaves you feeling in constant turmoil.

It is important to futureproof your marketing and replace old marketing strategies as they become dated. For example: email replaced much of direct mail, and now SMS adverts are being replaced by messenger chats and chatbots are now servicing initial messages to customers and replacing some processes.

Digital printing has enabled businesses to ‘print on demand’ as a way of life and thus no longer having to store copious amounts of stock. The reducing costs have enabled the 'best of both worlds' to be achieved in terms of balancing traditional and digital marketing methods.

The Way Forward

Business owners wear many hats and often ‘marketing’ is one of them, especially at the beginning. Amongst all the business decisions a business owner makes day-to-day, they know when the time is right to call in some help. Marketing can be fun, and every business owner should have ownership of their business’s image and reputation, which is their livelihood.

There are lots of pitfalls to watch out for in the marketing arena and, like every entrepreneur knows, that everything in business life is a learning curve.

Through focusing on what you want to achieve in your business, defining your all-important TARGET AUDIENCE, and mastering your marketing strategy and tactical plan, it won’t be long before the customers arrive at your proverbial door.

It’s all about managing your time, expertise and budget to ensure that your marketing efforts reap rewards you desire in terms of awareness, no. of leads and bottom-line profits.

Clear Goal Marketing is a marketing consultancy helping small-medium sized business owners with strategic marketing guidance. If Clear Goal can assist contact Wendy email or tel: 07980 707198 or visit

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