Mistakes are inevitable when it comes to marketing, with even major brands making headlines each year for catastrophic advertising blunders. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to poor maneuvering however, with small budgets and a need to reach audiences quickly and efficiently. You will make mistakes in marketing your business, that’s an unfortunate fact of the learning curve. However, there are some common mistakes that nobody needs to make. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most common marketing mistakes, so you’ll at least know what not to do.
It’s no secret that the internet is a major playing field for modern marketing, and probably the single biggest mistake that you could make when marketing your small business would be to neglect your online presence. Despite how obvious this all seems, nearly one-half of small businesses in the United States do not have a website. Without a website to serve as your online headquarters, it is almost pointless to put time and effort into social media and other forms of digital marketing, because there is no page to ultimately send your potential customers.
This is a critical mistake for which there is no real excuse. Creating a website has never been easier, with several services available which make designing your own site simple and affordable—you could have the whole thing up and running with a few hours of work and couple hundred dollars.
One of the first things you should establish before delving into marketing is a marketing strategy. Just because a billboard ad works once doesn’t mean it will keep working forever. Similarly, just because a banner ad got potential customers onto your website doesn’t mean that they have been encouraged enough to make a purchase. Focusing on individual tactics is important, but isolated tactics are not working at full efficiency unless they are part of an overarching strategy.
Set goals and determine how you can reach them in a certain time frame. Once you have determined this strategy, then it is time to turn your attention to individual tactics.
MISUNDERSTANDING YOUR AUDIENCE
Marketing isn’t just about reaching your ideal customers, it’s about catering to the people who want to spend money on your product or service. Too often, business owners have their target audience in mind when marketing and developing their business, at the cost of ignoring the customers that they already have. If you really want to sell your fitness equipment to hip young people, but only hockey moms are buying it, maybe you should stop channeling all of your efforts toward attracting that target audience that just isn’t interested.
Marketing decisions are always tactical choices—you risk your money by marketing to a demographic that isn’t interested, or you can use those resources to connect with people who care. In this example, maybe you should stop focusing on Snapchat, and shift your time and resources to physical marketing or banner ads on junior hockey sites. A basic rule of thumb: focus on whatever shows the best returns.
COMING ON TOO STRONG
Yes, you need to reach your audience quickly, but you also have expenses to think about. Unless you are blessed with a huge budget, it’s a good idea to save the cost of big-budget marketing tactics and dedicated professional marketing staff until you’ve developed an adequate stream of profits. Spending too much, too early on marketing depletes your resources which should instead be used for other things . . . like meeting demand. Keep the horse in front of the carriage; start small and grow your marketing efforts according to the rest of your business.
There are plenty of low budget marketing options out there, and you really only need to move onto bigger and more expensive strategies when you have exhausted these options. Interns, freelancers, social media, and a number of other options are available for effective, low-cost marketing—take advantage!
Consistency in marketing your brand is important. Logo, tone, aesthetic, and cadence are all opportunities to establish consistency, and you can see this practice at work in the marketing of virtually any major brand. However, this consistency should not end with marketing.
If your ads all follow a certain rhythm, but then bring customers to a website that seems like another world, you’re going to break the spell. Whatever your brand’s image, vibe, or promise, it should carry through from the first ad all the way until the delivery of the product. Consistency throughout marketing and sales suggests integrity, organization, and reliability—all qualities that you want your brand to exhibit.
This start-to-finish consistency requires collaboration between marketing and sales. Ensure that the departments are in open communication with one another, and are making the effort to ensure that they work together to give your brand a cohesive feel.
NOT DOING YOUR HOMEWORK
Observing the tactics of successful (and unsuccessful) competitors in your industry is an excellent way to figure out what works when it comes to marketing without spending a dime. This vicarious learning provides you with tough lessons that you don’t actually need to learn the hard way—let someone else do the work!
Similarly, tracking your own results is a fundamental component of learning—and if you don’t do it, you’re not going to learn. Without studying which strategies improve conversion, you are effectively wasting money. Use tools like Google Analytics to track traffic to your site and note conversion rates for different marketing strategies. Keeping track of what works and what doesn’t is the single best way to ensure that you’re getting the highest return on your investments. This is the single most important point on this list: if you are not tracking results, you’re not learning. It’s that simple.
Marketing is complex and requires practice to execute correctly. Each one of the mistakes listed above is surprisingly common, so by keeping them in mind, you are giving yourself a head start in the game. Keep a critical eye on your marketing strategy and maintain that lead!