Marketing technology mistakes are all too common is small businesses. I just called a landscaping company for a quote. They may be a fine company, I don’t know, but they exhibited all three mistakes that small businesses make when it comes to technology, which makes me worry about their attention to detail.
Fortunately these mistakes are common (meaning I hold it against them but they have plenty of companies joining them in their offenses)–and they are easily fixed. After reading this, if your small business commits any of these mistakes, run, don’t walk, to the technology contributing to your unprofessional business persona and fix it immediately.
1. Voice mail not set up
Set up your voice mail on your business phone so people actually know they reached the business they are calling. Even better, buy a call routing service that manages your phone traffic so you can have a person pick up the phone when you aren’t around. Every call missed is a business opportunity that is likely to never return. If you can’t be bothered with setting up your voice mail, then I can’t be bothered with calling you back.
Fix: Get into you voice mail and leave a nice greeting for potential customers and an apology for not being available.
Fix 2: Look into a small business virtual phone contact center that can represent your small business like it is a big business.
2. No contact form on your website
Don’t expose your e-mail to the net. That is a sure way to get SPAM not business. Put in a contact form that directs to a mailbox specially set up to receive new business opportunities. That way if you will always know where the new business is, and if you do get hacked, it’s the new business account, not your main business account, that will need repair.
Fix: Get with your website designer and put up a contact form so you can get the information you need to respond professionally, and keep your business e-mail out of the databases of spammers. At minimum, take down the “mail-to” code and replace your e-mail with an image of the e-mail (one that people would have to copy, not one that can be clicked on), or if you really want to use “mail-to” on the site, use an separate e-mail from your main business e-mail to avoid attracting spam.
3. Using a free e-mail service as the business e-mail
If you own a website with your own domain, there is no excuse for you to use a gmail, Outlook, Yahoo or other free account for e-mail. It simply looks unprofessional and makes people doubt the authenticity of communications.
Fix: Turn on hosted e-mail from your domain, usually included in the domain/website fees. And it’s often more than one inbox, so the owner can employ a separate e-mail from one designated to gather leads. If other people on the team communicate with customers, make sure they all have an e-mail that uses your domain as well. That domain represents the company, so it is marketing and branding–and it tells the recipients of the e-mail that the person they are working with is a person who is associated with the company. Just putting your company name in the name portion of a gmail or Outlook account is also a #Fail. Professional firms own their domains. (BTW, some small businesses still use sub-domains of WordPress or Tumblr for their websites. Stop it, and get your own domain, then get the e-mail that goes with it).
Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself
If you commit any of these mistakes, don’t worry about blogging or social media. No one will care if you have a twitter account if your voice mail isn’t representing the company or your e-mail looks bogus.
A note about small business marketing in the physical world
I’m going to also give small businesses some advice about marketing in the physical world. When I recently asked a member of this company’s crew working on a neighbor’s yard for a card, I was given a beat up, dirty door hanger. It provided the information, but not in the best way possible. A clean business card would have been better and there is no excuse for not having a few business cards in plastic bag, nice and clean, even for a landscaping business.