I started Ampersand Business Solutions as a marketing strategy agency because I saw a gap in our regional market. Lots of agencies were selling specific services, such as website development and video production. At one point I worked for agencies selling such services. The way it functioned was that a prospective client reached out to an agency asking for a thing (website, video production) and my job was to dig into what they were looking for and align our agency services with their budget to make a sale.
I did that work for a while and it was fine. But, often, clients would come to me saying “I need to be more visible and someone said I should make videos.” So, we’d create a video plan for them. The problem was that maybe it wasn’t the most efficient way for their business to gain visibility.
My goal in creating Ampersand Business Solutions was to be able to talk through goals with clients and prescribe a plan that would maximize what they had to work with. The goal was to give clients not just something that fit their budget, but fit their business.
After years of running Ampersand Business Solutions, I started to see common marketing issues with small businesses. As I looked back on the story of my business I realized something. I was making these mistakes too.
Here are three common mistakes I made marketing my small business
Common Mistake #1: Generic Web Content
One of the first mistakes I made in marketing Ampersand was a common one: our website content looked like we helped anyone and everyone build a website. My goal was to offer marketing strategy and implementation services, but often people didn’t know they needed strategy. These prospective clients weren’t searching “marketing strategy,” so I had to be found for what they were looking for, which was “web development, website design,” and so forth.
We used the same keywords and kind of messaging on our website because we didn’t know how else to communicate the depth of work we did for our clients. So it inadvertently looked like we did the same things as every other agency. Why was this a mistake? Because it didn’t help get clients that wanted the service that set this business apart from all the other agencies out there.
Common Mistake #2: Trying to Be on Too Many Social Platforms
My second mistake was one we see frequently… spreading yourself thin on too many social media platforms. We were trying to be on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and it just didn’t make sense. We scaled back to just Facebook and only recently incorporated Instagram into our efforts, partially because they share an ad platform with Facebook, so we weren’t really duplicating efforts.
Common Mistake #3: Hit & Miss Email Content
Our third mistake was trying to niche in on certain content to our email subscribers when we didn’t really know anything about our subscribers. We know (and often tell our clients) that this is key, but in the early stages of building out email marketing we should have been A/B testing content and subject lines that resulted in opens and clicks.
Do these sound like the same struggles you’re having?
We Learned Quickly With Data
Some things we got right, though, included immediately installing systems to track metrics. Google Analytics went up right away so we could see what pages web visitors landed on, what pages they spent the most time on, and on what pages they exited our site. We used that data as time went on to see which blog posts and types of content we should produce more of. We also installed Facebook Pixel, an anonymous digital tripwire which allowed us to remarket to people who had recently visited our website. (That means that they’d be served one of our ads on Facebook).
Another thing we got right was that once we started gaining traction growing our email list, we paid really close attention to the emails that got the most opens and generated the most clicks. We then started optimizing our content towards those same types of topics and subject lines.