Imagine you finally saved up enough money to start your own small business. You spend 12-15 hours a day getting your shop ready to open. Your grand opening is exciting as friends and family stop by to see your shop. Some curious folks pop in and become customers and they seem to like what you sell.
But now, six months in, you are a little disappointed that your business, while paying the bills, is not flying high. What happened? Or perhaps the more appropriate question is what didn’t happen?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 45% during the first five years, and 65% during the first 10 years. Only 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more.
So why isn’t your business taking off? According to the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), 82% of start ups run out of cash and 42% discover there is no real need for their product or service in their market.
But I those figures are misleading. If the business owner would have done some market research first, he or she would have found out there was no need in the market before they opened the business. If there was a need for the product or service, they probably would not have run out of cash.
And marketing, or the lack of it, is what really makes or breaks many small business start ups. Years ago, smart start ups would use advertising in newspapers (remember them?). Radio and billboards were common, and direct mail and local TV ads were great when you had the budget.
Communicating the right message to the right audience has always been the key. Make sure your product or service satisfies a need, delivers what someone wants, fixes a problem or reduces a pain someone experiences.
Let’s say you actually budgeted for marketing — which makes you one of the few start ups who did. In today’s world where do you try to place your message? Traditionally, a good place for your ads would be adjacent to or among news—a news broadcast on TV or the newspaper. But a Pew Research study indicates nearly a third of adults between 18-29 get their news from TikTok. According to the study, 43% of all TikTok users say they get news from the platform today even though the source of that news is not reliable.
Unfortunately marketing has gotten more challenging. With the celebrity and home grown influencers getting much of the views and issues surrounding X (formerly Twitter) and AI adding to the confusion, business owners often feel they can’t make an impact and get noticed.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Pick three or four social media platforms that cover your target market. Plan consistent posting but don’t expect to do just the free posting. If you want to reach outside your own followers and friends, you need to place ads or boost your posts.
Unless you have proven writing, graphic art and video skills, you are probably better off hiring professionals to produce your posts. Measure results, revise and do it again.
Don’t ignore traditional media — it’s often where most of your target market could be found at a reasonable price.
There are so many marketing choices and paths today, it’s hard to choose what’s best and where to focus. But keep in mind, if you are prepared, those challenges are opportunities for your business to grow. ##