Marketing your small business is necessary. Most businesses have a marketing budget. It’s a no-brainer that we need to advertise and acquire new customers that will continue to grow our business.

Unfortunately, many small businesses waste money on marketing, focusing only on customer acquisition, when in fact they need to allocate a portion of their marketing budget on their existing customers, listening to what they’re saying.

I interviewed Tess Ball (check out the interview below) who has worked with big corporate brand names, doing digital strategy for MS Windows (Instagram and Pinterest, and Jose Cuervo (Instagram and Fcebook).

She gives terrific insights, sharing what she wishes all small business owners (and marketers – see end of the video) knew.

What Do Marketers Want Small Business Owners to Know?

Tess was hired by a client to design and run a marketing campaign. The business was located in a small community and they desired to be in a leadership position in their industry. So, they hired Tess to come in and help create a marketing strategy.

This company had a low star rating online and wanted to “get their rating higher”. This is an admirable goal that most companies strive for!

When she began to look into their existing reviews, she quickly found that they didn’t have a marketing problem, they had a customer experience issue.

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So many businesses owners think they need marketing and what they really need is customer experience support

Tess Ball

Owner, Small Business Incubator

Respond to Reviews – (both positive and negative reviews)

First off, Tess divided the reviews into categories. The business had a mix of both very high, and very low, reviews. There were enough low reviews that it brought down the star rating for the business.

She looked for themes in the reviews.

What she found was that when the business was on, they were on! The positive comments by customers reflected that they had great face to face customer interactions. The negative comments rallied around billing issues.

By categorizing reviews, the business can celebrate and continue to be excellent in the areas they are killing it, AND work on improving the other areas needing attention.

Don’t Try to Fix Low Ratings with Marketing Dollars

Tess had this business place a hold on garnering more reviews until they had fixed the problem.

I could get them 1,000 more reviews but 40% of them would still be negative because they hadn’t addressed the issue. Bringing in more reviews simply amplifies the issue and makes it harder for a marketer to then fix public perception.

The company thought this was a “review problem” that marketing could fix. However, it was clearly a customer experience issue. They were not receiving unfair reviews; the public gives an accurate representation of businesses by posting reviews. The problem was an internal one that needed to be addressed BEFORE marketing dollars were thrown at it.

Online reviews are a great tool for small business owners to keep tabs on, and analyze, as they grow. These reviews give a perspective that is much more ‘unfiltered’ and ‘unbiased’ than feedback given by staff during a meeting or from a customer who is physically at the business.

Takeaways on Marketing

  • Celebrate and continue the things your customers are raving about.
  • Tackle the things your customers are not too keen on.

By doing so you’ll not be wasting money on marketing. You’ll be investing in your business’s success.


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