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The 9 Most Common Marketing Mistakes

Do you feel like your small business marketing isn’t paying off? Maybe the problem is you’re making one or more of these all-too-common marketing mistakes.

  1. Not investing enough in marketing. For small business owners on a budget, marketing often seems like a waste of desperately needed money. In reality, it’s a long-term investment in your business. Consider: An ad that costs $2,500 might seem like a big expense, but if your average client pays you $5,000 a month, land just one client from the ad and you’ve made a profit. What’s a good benchmark? According to the CMO Council, the average business spends about 11 percent of its revenues on marketing each year.
  2. Not setting goals for your marketing. Of course, your budget isn’t unlimited, so it’s important to know what you want your marketing to achieve. Do you want to raise awareness of your business, attract new customers, or get existing customers to buy more from you? Your marketing goals should flow naturally from your overall business goals.
  3. Marketing without a plan. Your marketing plan lays out how you will achieve your marketing goals, including what types of marketing you’ll do, how often and what your budget will be. Without a plan, your marketing becomes haphazard and a waste of time and money. Check out marketing plan templates, samples and software.
  4. Failing to develop a business brand. A strong brand is the foundation of all your marketing efforts. Everything from your social media posts to your print and radio ads should convey a unified message that promotes your brand and shows what makes your business different from the competition—your USP, or Unique Selling Proposition.
  5. Marketing in the wrong places or to the wrong people. Narrowly targeting your customer base helps you choose the perfect media for your marketing messages. For instance, if you sell baby products, marketing to the whole universe of “moms” via ads on national news websites may get you a few leads. Define your market more specifically as “upscale, urban moms who are interested in a ‘green’ lifestyle,” then advertise on websites and blogs that appeal to this readership, and you’ll get much better results.
  6. Running out of time for marketing. As a small business owner, you wear a lot of hats, especially in the early days. When you get busy with work, it’s easy to let marketing fall by the wayside—until one day, you wake up and your pipeline of prospects is empty. To avoid this feast-or-famine situation, you must set aside time for marketing on a regular basis—every day or every week.
  7. Not having an online presence. It’s hard to believe, but according to a survey by Yodle, more than half (52 percent) of small business owners don’t have a website. Even those that do have a website often fail to take advantage of marketing opportunities such as listing their business on local search directories, using search engine optimization to increase traffic to their websites or advertising online. These days, customers go online first when they’re looking for businesses to patronize. If you’re not online, you won’t get the business. Your website must be mobile-friendly as well. You can most easily achieve that by building a responsive design website.
  8. Not measuring your marketing results. Don’t just guess at how your marketing is doing—regularly measure your results. This can be as simple as using your website analytics tools to see which online ads are attracting traffic or putting coupon codes in print ads that customers clip and redeem. Assess your marketing results monthly, then put more effort into what’s working best.
  9. Being too impatient. Especially if your business is brand new, getting noticed takes time and repetition. Don’t expect an overnight payoff from your marketing efforts. Put in the time, measure what works and what doesn’t, fine-tune your strategy and keep at it—and you’ll eventually see results.
Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Contributor at Fundera
Rieva Lesonsky is a small business contributor for Fundera and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company. She has spent 30+ years covering, consulting and speaking to small businesses owners and entrepreneurs.
Rieva Lesonsky