5 Small Business Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

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Number 5: Going Cheap On Your Website

Your website is the cornerstone of your marketing presence. More traditional forms of marketing still exist, sure, but nothing matches the power of the internet for driving customers to your door.

The flip-side of that is that a bad website (or worst of all, a website that doesn’t exist when people search for you) will drive customers to your competition instead. A website that’s bland and unattractive, tough to navigate, or that fails to tie in with your other marketing can easily confuse and frustrate visitors. Make sure that your company’s online presence is a projection of your overall brand—the personality you want to show to the world (see more about branding in Number 1, below).

Number 4: Paying for Marketing Without Understanding It

It’s very easy to watch your marketing go off-rails if you’re simply hiring it done without taking the time to understand how it works. Do research into the products and services you’re paying your marketing consultants for. You’ll be glad you did.

Taking this extra time to understand what you’re investing your marketing spend in and how it works will save you a ton of frustration. It will help set reasonable expectations of what types of results different forms of marketing can deliver, and will help you avoid being taken in by marketers eager to capitalize on your lack of understanding. It’ll also help you understand how to measure your return on investment.

(MarketerHire has an awesome glossary of modern marketing terms to help kickstart your research.)

Number 3: Failing to Measure Success

A young professional analyzing graphs on a laptop.

A lot of businesses will ask their customers the question, “How did you hear about us?” As an approach to gauging the success of your marketing efforts this is better than nothing, but it’s still less than ideal.

Set up your online marketing to use analytics, and tune into them frequently to help you understand how well your marketing is performing. At a minimum it’s suggested that you configure your analytics properties to measure bounce rate and track conversions. Combine this with the insights on user acquisition that you can get through free-to-you tools like Google Search Console and Meta Business Suite, and you’re on the path to measurement success.

One rule of thumb in digital marketing: If you can’t measure success, it isn’t working.

Number 2: Not Understanding Your Target Market

If you’ve read this far and taken anything we’ve had to say seriously, you’re not Amazon. You don’t have the loot to go heads-up in the global market and target every last consumer across all media. Trying to do everything means that we end up doing five things 20% as well as we could, and not being able to be truly competitive in any of them. Instead try doing one or two things supremely well, and expand your reach as you continue to grow your business.

How to know which things to focus on depends on deeply understanding your target audience. You have to know what motivates them to make purchasing decisions, and to build your marketing campaigns around reaching people wherever they happen to be the point at which they’re ready to buy from you.

Who are your ideal customers? Not just age, gender, and amount of disposable income, but what motivates them? What do they value in their lives? What are they seeking to avoid? Construct a persona of these characteristics and rely on it to help you craft your messaging.

(Here’s some great info from Hubspot on how to construct a buyer persona!)

Number 1: Failing to Develop Your Brand

Your business’ brand is the image that it displays. Some of that image is about your visual marketing—making sure your business cards match your letterhead that matches your Facebook profile. So much more of that brand is about what your business does and how you do it.

Are customers always greeted the same way when they come to your location? Do your employees all wear the same gear showcasing your logo and some fun slogan? These are components of branding as well. Perhaps most important, though, is how customers feel they were treated when they interacted with your business. Building a reputation as a company that exemplifies a consistent set of core values will go miles in any business.

Taking the time to develop these standards, and to ensure everyone who works for you is on the same page, is one of the keys to growing a business. Customers have a lot of alternatives, and if they’re dissatisfied they can hop online from their car in the parking lot, send a bad review, and find your competitor down the street before their engine idles down. As Sam Walton, founder of Walmart famously said, “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money elsewhere.”

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