Common Small Business Marketing Mistakes (And What to do About Them)

How exactly can small businesses compete against larger companies to ensure they stand out from the crowd? And, how do you implement solid marketing strategies without much capital? It’s hard enough for small business owners to keep track of all the different roles needed to run a successful business, let alone have to deal with developing marketing ideas on top of everything else! However, identifying a few niche areas and with careful planning, you can drive sales without compromising on effort. Here, I’ve outlined some common small business marketing mistakes that are crucial to avoid losing money. Or, even worse, cause failure of a business. 

1. Marketing without a plan

If this is you, then make it a priority asap! A marketing plan should be factored into your overall business plan and goals. It’s unlikely you can invest in a clear marketing plan without first knowing the How? When? Who? And, Why? If you’re not frequently measuring statistics and results, you are simply wasting money. You’re also won’t be keeping up with the latest technological trends. Surprisingly, it’s a common small business marketing mistake. So, if you don’t feel confident devising one yourself, it’s better to hire a digital marketing specialist, rather than not having any plan at all.

So, before you even start with strategising, do your research to understand how well your product/service is likely to sell. Track your numbers, such as, sales, demographics, website traffic, blog and social media posts. This will give you valuable data to make informed decisions for successful marketing ideas and goals. And, with such a variety of social media analytic tools, it’s easy to tweak your input and get immediate insights.

2. Failing to budget for marketing

Let’s face it, times are economically tough for the small business owner. But, whether you have the cash for paid advertising campaigns or are only using social media, you still need a budget to help boost your business income. If you don’t spend money on marketing, your customers won’t won’t see your amazing creations! Marketing, after all, is your business’ message and it’s what will get you noticed. A marketing budget should focus on aspects such as, paid campaigns, market research, online tools or digital media freelancers for that extra help when needed.

Budgeting can be a financial nightmare for many business owners. This is why it’s so important to incorporate it into a marketing plan. Decide on a monthly marketing budget when you’re organising your business finances and use it wisely. For example, try out different tactics each month, track your results and find out which one works best for sales, gaining new followers or engagement. 

3. Lack of a well-designed website

If your website is looking tired, then your customers are likely to have a negative first impression when they find you online. Plus, most customers will do some research on a business before committing to buying from them. So, when your brand isn’t eye-catching or attractive, they’ll move on elsewhere. Similarly, if it hasn’t been updated for some time, consider adding regular blog posts or news to keep customers coming back and, potentially, spreading the word about your business.

While you may have to use a chunk of your marketing budget creating a website, there are other ways around this to avoid your small business making this marketing mistake. For example, setting up a simple website is better than no website at all, and there are plenty of courses out there to help you create your own. Alternatively, consider hiring a freelancer on a platform like Fivver whereby you’re employing them just for a specific job. 

4. Not capitalising on Social Media

There’s no doubt that social media marketing is one of the most influential ways of getting your brand out to the world, literally! In today’s climate, not having a significant presence on FaceBook, Instagram or any other platform is a definite no-no as it’s an extremely effective way of advertising. Without continually having engagement on social media, you are potentially letting your competitors gain momentum to similar products to what you’re selling.

One of the most important small business marketing mistakes people make when using social media marketing is to spread themselves out too thin. It’s very useful to find out what platforms your customers use and stick to those social media accounts. While you don’t just want just one platform to reach out to customers, signing up to 5 different accounts could be very time-consuming, unless you want to pay for a social media expert. Also, when you link your accounts to your website, the chances are you will drive more traffic and potentially, more sales.

5. Ignoring your target audience

You’ll have a hard task of attracting customers if you don’t know who they are! How can you drive sales otherwise? When designing your market campaigns and strategies, your target audience should always be firmly in sight. Therefore, understanding their demographics and what they want, is paramount for your business to survive, and thrive. However, this also means you cannot afford to forget your current customers who are easier to build engagement and sales with.

In order for you to have long term customer relationships, consider conducting your own research to find out more about what they expect from your business. Don’t make the business marketing mistake by not reading or replying to any reviews and complaints. You can also use social media to create surveys on a new product or other aspect of your business so you find out directly what your customers think.


About Anita Forrest

Anita Forrest is a Chartered Accountant, spreadsheet geek and money nerd helping financial DIY-ers organise their money so they can hit their goals quicker.