Do you want to avoid the common marketing mistakes small businesses make? Small business owners are very busy people – we know this, as we’re a small business too.

However, being busy is not an excuse for neglecting your marketing, which is a common error we see in small business. Marketing is often at the bottom of the “to do” list, and sometimes never happens at all. This is not where marketing should be.

Marketing needs to be as important, if not more so, as the other key areas of your business – alongside good governance, finances, and operations.

Putting it simply, it doesn’t matter how well your business operates, or how great your product or service is, if people don’t know you exist they won’t buy. You need to be seen.

Prioritise your marketing

This is why marketing is so important and needs to be prioritised. This is why social media has had such a huge positive impact on small businesses – you can now ‘be seen’ by audiences all around the world.

For a small business, marketing doesn’t need to be overly complicated or expensive, but it does need to have a strategy, an action plan, and a budget.

The key issue for many of our clients is that they don’t know where to start with their marketing. Even if you only have a small marketing budget, make sure you plan your marketing. For a small business, a planned approach is very important to avoid wasting the precious time and limited marketing budget you have.

7 marketing mistakes you need to avoid

Here is our list of top marketing mistakes to avoid in a small business, starting with the biggest mistake, having no marketing plan.

No marketing plan

Having a strategic marketing plan ensures you keep marketing activities on track and on budget; it helps avoid spending time and money of ad hoc items; and importantly sets out target markets, activities, and timing. Even if you just have a really simple plan, it is much better than none. Re-visit your plan regularly, and make sure you can measure the success of all marketing activities undertaken to avoid repeating ineffective marketing decisions.

Underperforming website

A website is not optional – it is mandatory. It doesn’t need to be big and expensive, but you do need to have one, and it needs to look professional. Don’t just depend on your social media. Remember, you don’t “own” your social media pages, but you do own your website. Make sure your website is functioning – if you’re not sure, get a full website audit. The three biggest small business website mistakes are: (1) hard-to-find contact details; (2) no personality or personal ‘About Us’ details; and (3) lack of clarity about services offered. For further website tips read my blog Top 10 Website Tips for Small Businesses.

Trying to be everything to everyone

With a limited budget and limited resources, work out your priorities and do a few key things well, rather than trying to do everything with a scatter-gun approach which means nothing gets done well. ie. choose two social media channels and do them consistently, rather than doing four channels and doing them sporadically. Make sure you have a defined target market/s – trying to appeal to everyone doesn’t work. Your marketing needs to be tailored to suit your target market/s. This mistake is avoided by having a strategic marketing plan.

Lack of brand consistency

Some business owners are creative types, and some are not. If you’re not, make sure you get help with establishing a consistent brand. An inconsistent brand means mixed messages, and mixed messages mean that people will be confused about your business. This includes the type of images used, colours, words, and even fonts and layouts. A consistent brand looks professional, and people know what to expect. Think of big brands like Nike, Coke, McDonalds, BMW etc… they all have a very consistent brand. Small businesses need to do the same, but on a small scale.

No personality

For small businesses it is especially important to create a connection with your customers, and the best way to achieve this is to let them know who you are. Let your personality shine through in everything you do; provide information about yourself on your website and on social media. Many small businesses have websites with a bland “off the shelf” sterile look. They have no personality, no information about who they are or their purpose, and no images showing the owners or their staff. First step – get rid of stock library images! Show and tell people who you are and why you want to help them.

Not looking after customers

Only focusing on new business and neglecting repeat business is a big mistake that small business owners regularly make. Make sure you look after your existing customers and undertake marketing especially for them. Marketing to an existing customer is a lot cheaper than finding new customers; and more importantly, unsatisfied customers will tell all their friends and family. No small business can afford bad word-of-mouth advertising.

Lack of response or follow-up

It astounds us how often we contact small businesses and receive no response at all, or an extremely slow one. There is no excuse for this, especially these days with auto-responders and all the tech tools available. The sooner you respond to a lead or enquiry the better, this includes both online and phone message enquiries. A quick response shows you are professional, provides a good first impression, and shows that you are attentive to your clients needs. It is generally expected that leads are followed up on the same day; at the very most 24 hours. Potential clients do not wait these days – they will go elsewhere; and there is the added potential reputation damage as well if you don’t respond adequately.

We hope these tips have helped you determine how you can improve your marketing; and what marketing mistakes you may need to fix in your business.

If you have any questions, comments, or additional suggestions to add to this list, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you. Check out our Blog for other marketing tips; or Contact us.

Planet Marketing provides practical marketing advice – helping you determine what marketing suits your business best.

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