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small business mistakes in marketing

Life is about making mistakes, right? Life, maybe — but small business is another story. When it comes to small business, mistakes are inevitable. But we want to minimize them as much as possible, especially when it comes to mistakes in marketing. Let’s talk about some of these small business mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.

But first, let’s talk a little bit about the cost of these marketing mistakes.

Small Business Mistakes Are Costing You

Small business mistakes aren’t just little accidents. They can result in major expenses to your business — and in the small business arena, where every dollar counts, this could sink your brand.

How?

Mistakes come in many shapes and sizes. In fact, many of the mistakes we’re talking about today might seem to be small. And many of them concern issues around not doing or ignoring some facet of marketing.

You might brush off these mistakes as being “chump change” in the grand scheme of things.

But they can cost you big in the long run.

How?

For example, you might decide not to invest money in certain marketing tactics. You might think, not spending equals a “big win” — but let’s examine the big picture here. When you’re not investing in marketing, you’re losing the additional revenue from the new customers you would have attracted.

Over time, these kinds of mistakes can sabotage your brand.

So, as we move forward and discuss specific small business mistakes to avoid, think about that big picture — because we want you to succeed and achieve the best small business marketing strategy.

Small Business Mistakes in Marketing That You Need to Avoid

1. Not Having a Marketing Plan

Marketing your business without a plan is like navigating a ship on the open seas without any navigation. You’ll have no idea where you’re going, how far you’ve come, or how much further you have left to go.

So what goes into an effective marketing plan?

Start your marketing plan by laying out what channels you want to use in your marketing such as social media, email, your website. Then outline specific and realistic goals  to reach in a set time and tactics to use to get there. And don’t forget to measure your progress moving forward and adjust your plan as needed.

2. Not Knowing Your Customer

We might also be able to call this one “trying to sell to everyone” — because that’s what happens when you don’t know your customer.

Knowing your customers mean more than just having a hazy image of age and gender. It means knowing them on a psychological level.

Create profiles, or buyer personas, for your ideal customers. Notice this is plural, since most businesses have more than one type of customer. In these profiles, outline customers’ interests, desires, and what makes them tick. What are their pain points and problems they face that might push them toward your product as a solution?

List as many details about your customers as possible, even giving each buyer persona a name to make them more real.

3. Being Scared of New Marketing Tactics

In any business, it’s easy to fall into a rut — doing the same thing just because it’s what you’ve always done.

This is one of the biggest small business mistakes we see.

When this happens, you risk missing out on new, exciting, and effective marketing tactics. Just in the past five years, marketing tools and tactics have seen impressive changes.

In marketing, it’s smart to always have your ear to the ground. Pay attention to what new strategies other businesses are using and what new technologies are creating the most buzz.

4. Not Taking Advantage of Social Media

There’s so much to love about social media — audience reach, richness of features…and did we mention it’s free?

But, sadly, so many companies treat their social media as an afterthought.

Don’t make that mistake.

Once you’ve chosen a social network, it’s time to make it shine. Create a stellar business profile or bio. Share content that is interesting and valuable to your target audience. Share your opinions and insight on industry matters. Engage with others, both by commenting on posts and sharing in communities and groups on the network.

Social media is a great tool for your small business — don’t waste it.

5. Ignoring Your Competition

You are surrounded by other individuals and companies who are running the same race and vetting them can help you.

Run a competitor analysis to uncover their strengths and weaknesses, where they’re crushing it and where they’re falling short. This can help you to better understand the industry landscape and where you need to improve.

Use this information about your competitors to at least be on par with them. See where they fall short and fill in the gaps giving your own business a competitive edge.

6. Forgetting Your Current Customers

Did you know that it is between 6 and 7 times more expensive to get a new customer than to keep the ones you already have? That’s why customer retention is so important. Yet, many small businesses let this fall by the wayside.

Avoid this by focusing on keeping your current customers happy. When customers are happy, they’ll stick with you through the ups and downs and even tell others about your brand — and who doesn’t love free word of mouth marketing?

There are a few different ways to boost your customer retention. Start by improving your communication, possibly sending out more personalized communication to your customers. You might also reward your customers with extra freebies that make them feel special. When your customers experience problems with your brand or product, be quick to address any issues.

7. Ignoring Metrics

There are many areas of life where you can fly by the seat of your pants — but your marketing campaigns shouldn’t be one of them. While it’s not always fun to sift through metrics and data, it’s a crucial part of marketing success.

After all, knowing how many people are viewing and engaging with your marketing campaign lets you know what strategies are working, which are failing, and what needs to be changed.

Start by focusing on basic KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), such as website traffic, conversion rates, and marketing ROI.

Set aside time weekly to eyeball the numbers. Tease out what marketing activities are causing any shifts you see in the numbers. Perhaps you’ll find out that your audience isn’t loving a particular blog topic or that you need to change the day or time you distribute your email campaigns.

Data is telling you everything you need to know — you just need to listen!

Concluding Thoughts on Small Business Mistakes

So, yes, small business mistakes will happen, especially when you first start down the path of small business ownership. And that’s part of the fun.

But we want to help you avoid the bigger mistakes so that your small business will be alive and thriving for many years to come.

Photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash

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Wendy Marx

Wendy Marx

Wendy Marx, author, coach and marketing and branding authority is the founder of Thriving at 50 Plus, a coaching program that helps baby boomers find more purpose and meaning in life. Wendy over the last 30 years has helped many business owners and executives become well-known, going from Anonymity to Industry Icon™. Her business articles have appeared in The New York Times, InformationWeek, Inc., Advertising Age, & Fast Company, among other outlets.

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