Marketing Strategy Blog

The Top 10 Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Make (and How to Prevent Them)

marketing mistakes small businesses make

Deciding how to allocate marketing resources is a big challenge for most small businesses. Without the big budgets and internal marketing experts on hand that most larger companies have, it’s tough to know where to dedicate money and resources. Unfortunately, this often results in some common mistakes and missteps for small businesses.

The good news is, these small business marketing mistakes can be avoided. You just need to be aware of these common marketing mistakes and use some of the strategies we’ve provided below to prevent them from happening in your business.

1. Your Website Is Dated

Quite often, visitors judge a business by the look and feel of the website. First impressions are everything in today’s online world, and if your business’ website looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 90’s, it’s sure to reflect poorly on you. Some examples would include not having a responsive or mobile-friendly website, slow load times, or using Flash, to name a few.

This is quite easy to prevent from happening, as there are many options available to create a functioning, up-to-date website. You can either purchase a template or ask your media partner for assistance. Check out some more tips to consider when developing your website.

2. Not Thinking About Mobile Viewers

When you’re looking at updating your website, this is probably the most important thing to take note of. Not having a mobile friendly and responsive website is no longer an option. By responsive, we mean a website that responds to the screen size it’s being viewed on by stacking and re-organizing content to maintain an optimal viewer experience. Google loves responsive and mobile friendly sites, and will reward you in search results if you have one while penalizing you if you don’t.

In order to prevent this from happening, make sure that your template and design are responsive while updating your website. It’s important to either hire a professional — like your media partner —  to validate the responsiveness of your design. Industry professionals are just that, professionals and you can utilize them as resources for implementing best practices. If a marketing or web professional isn’t available to you, you can always use resources like like the free Google Mobile Friendly Test to see if your site is mobile-friendly to Google’s standards.

3. Not Understanding Your Audience

Understanding who your target audience is, and what motivates them, is the first step in creating a successful marketing strategy. No marketing efforts will be effective if you’re simply distributing generic messages with the hopes that it will capture someone’s attention.

In order to avoid this, do some research into your target market or survey your current database to get a better idea of who your ideal audience is. When surveying your customers, make sure to follow some best practices like avoiding complex questions, limiting the number of response options, and splitting up longer, matrix questions.

4. Not Targeting Your Marketing Efforts

As we just mentioned above, gone are the days of a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy (if those really ever did exist). Consumers are being bombarded daily with marketing messages and likely won’t pay attention to your ad unless it really speaks to them. Think about how you’re going to make your marketing stand out from the noise.

The best ways to do this is to first understand who you’re targeting and what their motivations are for needing your product or service. When running Facebook ads, for example, you want to consider location, demographics, interests, and behaviors as a part of your digital marketing strategy. If you’re targeting mothers, you might want to target your ads early in the morning as they are checking their phone while getting the kids ready for school and themselves ready for work. Also make sure that the messaging fits the correct segment that you’re marketing to. Meeting them on the right platform at the right time isn’t enough, you’ll need to tweak your creative messaging to make it as relevant as possible.

5. Not Tracking Marketing Performance

Tracking marketing performance is essential to gauging what’s working, the ROI you’re getting, and what changes need to be made in the future.

Just make sure that you’re using the analytics tools provided by whatever platform you’re using to measure performance (Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, etc... for example). Most advertising methods today will provide you with a method for seeing results. For example, you can use Google Analytics and AdWords to monitor digital marketing performance. Depending on your specific goals this could be pageviews, click-through rates, unique visitors, etc. The main thing is to correlate your performance and metrics with marketing ROI, to make sure you’re funnelling your marketing resources in the right direction. You can also look towards your media partner for help building out goals, a plan for metrics tracking and knowing which medium(s) are most suitable for your business..

6. Not Keeping an Eye on the Competition

You definitely want to keep an eye on your competition in order to see what they’re doing, what’s working, what’s not, and what tools and strategies they’re employing. Failure to do so can put you behind them very quickly.

Avoid this simply by spending some time looking at your competitors’ advertising, visiting their social media sites, and analyzing their brand messaging. Sign up for their newsletters and actively review what they’re doing in order to shape your own efforts. However, the worst thing you can do is copy or plagiarize your competitors’ marketing. You want to make sure to develop your own unique brand identity, while still keeping an eye on the competitive landscape.

7. Not Creating an Appropriate Marketing Budget

If you haven’t developed a marketing budget, you likely have no idea how much you should be spending in order to make your marketing investments worthwhile, and therefore you might be throwing money out the window.

Make sure to periodically sit down with your team to lay out a marketing plan for various time periods. It also helps to do your research on a variety of marketing options and look at any previous marketing efforts in order to create a realistic baseline in regards to your marketing budget. Simply understanding what things cost and what you’ve spent in the past can be valuable information for developing your budget. A great place to start is by talking with your media partners about building a framework for your annual marketing budget, as well as researching articles like this on Forbes to get a better idea of what your budget should look like.

8. Not Utilizing Social Media

Businesses today ignore social media only at their own peril. However, this doesn’t mean that your business can or should rely solely on social media for marketing, it just means that you simply can’t afford to ignore it altogether.

To start, you want to determine which is the best one or two channels to utilize for your customer base and your industry, and then focus your efforts there. This can mean engaging professionals on LinkedIn if your business is B2B or showcasing uses of your products on Instagram in creative ways. In most cases, starting with Facebook is a good bet simply due to it’s mass usage across generations, demographics, and beyond.

Regardless of the channel, your business needs a social presence. Focus on creating engaging content that will connect you with your customers and prospects, and be conscious of being overly promotional with your messaging. Avoid constant “selling” of your business, but instead ask your audience questions and share interesting content that will engage them in a way that matches your brand. Check out Hubspot’s list of 41 resources for social media marketing beginners, covering everything from how to use videos to eBooks and infographics.

9. Your Business Is Hard to Find

This can either be on the web or your physical location. A common mistake for small businesses is not using sites like Google My Business and Yelp to make it easy for people to find their business with relevant, up to date information.

These resources are typically free for businesses to develop a profile and ultimately become more searchable. Keep all of your business information up to date on these websites and make changes when necessary as this is a great way help consumers find the information they need quickly and easily. 

This is a simple, but oftentimes overlooked, step that can make a huge difference in the customer experience.

10. No Marketing Plan or Strategy

In order to be effective over time, you’ll absolutely need a marketing strategy or plan of attack. Without it, nobody will be on the same page and you’ll be undertaking efforts blindly. A common mistake for small businesses.

By keeping in mind these ten small business marketing mistakes, as well as strategies to avoid them, you’ll give your small business the best chance of maximizing your marketing budget. You need to internalize key principles like understanding your target demographic, providing a great user interface, and track the ROI of key metrics. The main thing is to have a cohesive strategy, and work with your media partner to execute it, as well as optimize for continued success.

Want to learn more? Check out our Small Business Guide to Building an Effective Marketing Strategy for more information about avoiding these common small business marketing mistakes and to come up with your own winning marketing formula.



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