7 common mistakes small business owners make that hurt their brand and lower sales
If you are a small or medium business owner, it can be daunting as a smaller fish competing in a massive pond crowded with much bigger fish. Many of our clients tell us they want to make their smaller brands look big to better compete against their larger competitors.
Here are seven fundamentals to focus on to help your company compete successfully with other larger players in your space.
1) Be consistent with your brand and logo
This first item is fundamental, but we see business owners making missteps here all the time.
To make your smaller business stand alongside your bigger competitors, treat your logo and brand with the same seriousness used by the larger companies. That means being consistent and professional with your logo usage, colors, and messaging. For example, it is best not to any of the followingly lightly:
- Alter your logo (e.g., adding or removing elements)
- Mix up your color scheme or fonts
- Create promotional materials with drastically different aesthetics and tone
None of the above means you cannot iterate on your brand. Big brands evolve all the time, but they do it carefully and with a strategy. And changing up their brand identity isn’t something bigger companies do very often.
2) Reinforce your brand everywhere you can
Building on the tip above, be sure to feature your brand where you can. That means putting your logo, brand colors, and perhaps slogan on the material you present to your clients, including things like invoices, quotes, receipts, signs, presentations, documents, and the like. If you are handing it to your customers, it should reinforce your brand image.
3) Don’t use Facebook, Instagram, or anything other than your company domain name as a website
A shortcut some business owners take that will make your brand look slipshod is having a social media page like Facebook or Instagram serve as your website. The same goes for using an online web builder and keeping the generic domain name (e.g., something like accountname.wixsite.com/yourbusiness or yourbusiness.squarespace.com).
Neither of the above conveys a professional image for your brand. And, when your business hopefully grows, being dependent on third parties for your web presence will be a liability and lost opportunity.
Bottom line: get a domain name for your business and use it for your website – which leads directly to the next item below.
3) Have a website that makes you proud
Having a bad (or even mediocre) website is costing you money. Skimping on your website puts you at a severe disadvantage to your competitors and reduces your revenue.
The negative impact of a poor website applies even if you are a brick-and-mortar business and do not consider yourself an “online company.” Here’s why: The simple truth is that most of your potential customers are increasingly using web search to find information, including hunting for goods and services like yours. Consumers want to learn about you online before they do business with you. Therefore, if your website makes a poor impression or is not showing up on the relevant search engines, many customers will go elsewhere.
Your business deserves a website that you are proud of and that checks all the critical boxes, including modern design, logical organization, search engine optimization (SEO), good load times, and ease of use. It should also have a solid call to action with a clear path for users to take for the next steps of doing business with you.
US adults use web search, and 54% do so multiple times a day1
View a company’s website before visiting their physical location2
Will not purchase from a brand if its website/mobile experience is poorly designed3
5) Don’t use @Gmail, @Yahoo, etc. for your business email address
6) Be smart with social media
There are many social media channels out there, ranging from big, household names to niche communities. It might be tempting to set up accounts on as many social sites as possible for your business. But doing so will set you up to fail.
Remember, these are social channels. Your customers will expect you to be active and responsive. You need to be realistic about your ability to monitor and participate on each network where your business has a presence. A common mistake small businesses make is to leave their social channels unmonitored because they don’t have the time to manage them. Over-extending in this way can lead to angry customers and negative posts about your brand.
So, be realistic and selective with social media for your company. Start with one or two social channels with the most significant potential reach for your business and actively monitor and manage them.
7) Keep on top of online reviews
Actively managing online reviews from your customers is critical to maintaining a positive and professional brand image online. It also helps your bottom line since your current and potential customers use online reviews to decide which businesses to patronize.
You should respond promptly and constructively to any negative comments. Letting unhappy comments go unaddressed will reflect poorly on the quality of your products and services and lose you sales.
For more on the importance of reviews, check out our blog article “5 Reasons Online Reviews Matter.”
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1Pew Research (https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2012/03/09/main-findings-11/)
2Visual Objects (https://visualobjects.com/digital-marketing/blog/benefits-of-local-seo)