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John A. Brownridge Ed.D.

Promotional Mistakes Are Bad For Business
John Brownridge, Ed.D.

Online promotion is the lifeblood of many businesses today. Indeed, current estimates show that approximately 90% of small businesses in North America rely on their online advertising campaigns to ensure steady growth, and up to a quarter of new clients and customers derive from this powerful source. Online promotions, however, are not automatically successful. Careful preparation is essential and common pitfalls must be avoided if your campaign’s objectives are to be achieved. Your business promotion will be off to a good start if you can avoid the following destructive errors.

Poor Preparation.
Large companies take months to prepare their advertising campaigns for Christmas, Boxing Week, Back to School, and other major sales events of the year, and it is tempting for small business owners to feel some relief at being outside of that hectic rush. It is folly, however, to believe that online promotions can be put together at the last minute. While you are spared the frustration of creating posters and placards, and there are no radio and TV commercials to prepare, your online advertising needs to be attractive and polished as well as being accurate and up to date. Allow plenty of time for this so that you can make the necessary revisions and adjustments before launching your campaign.

Once your web site is up and running you should persist with the characterization that defines your company. That is not to say that changes cannot be made to your presentation when updating of products and prices are required. Typically, potential clients and customers will return to your site as they search for the best values, and they will expect to find their way around with minimum confusion. Try to keep links consistent and the overall appearance of the site in line with your original design. This is particularly important during fourth quarter campaigns when potential new clients are comparing your products with the competition. If they are faced with annoying site changes they will become frustrated and they may quickly abandon your site.

Ignoring the Competition
Your product or service will inevitably be offered by other companies, and it is essential for you to keep up to date with your competition. With a little research you will be aware of current prices as well as any unique characteristics that can make a company stand out. Decide on a range of pricing before your online campaign gets underway, and ensure sufficient flexibility that will allow you to make adjustments at short notice. But it is not only prices that matter in your promotional campaign. Your product must contain something unique, something that convinces your new clients to choose your company over the others. Remember that your competition has an eye on you too. Check their sites frequently as well as your own.

Miscalculating Your Budget
Many small businesses fail because of insurmountable budget problems. This is frequently because owners find themselves in a position where orders are coming in but there are insufficient funds to get products off the assembly line and delivered to clients. There is a tendency therefore to overcompensate budget allocation in favour of production, leaving a shortfall of promotional funds. This can be a major mistake. It is important to maintain a balance between the cost of creating products and the cost of advertising them. In planning your online promotional campaign, remember to keep additional and emergency funds aside for advertising during the fourth quarter. A short, sharp promotion is often needed at short notice. Though your products or services may be ready to dispatch, your business will remain at a standstill if your potential clients are not aware of them.