There aren’t any set rules when it comes to marketing. What’s best for you depends on your business and your target audience. Marketing can take many forms, from word-of-mouth referrals, to traditional advertising and pay-per-click campaigns. Actively marketing your business is crucial for its success, but it can be easy to make mistakes and waste money if your marketing activities lack a strategy. Here are some of the biggest mistakes I’ve found small businesses make
1. Not Having a Marketing Plan or doing no marketing at all
A marketing plan is a strategy document that outlines your business’s marketing tactics for the upcoming period. If you don’t have a marketing plan, it can be very tempting to simply do no marketing at all, especially if you’re already overworked and short on budget. It’s also easy to think that if you provide a good service or have a terrific product, then it’s just a matter of time before the word gets around and business will be ticking along nicely (having said that, it can also be a mistake to underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing). But the bottom line here is that without marketing, and a marketing plan, the engine that is your business has no fuel.
2. Not paying attention to details
How people perceive your business is based on what image you regularly project, and not reviewing your marketing materials is a big mistake. It’s important to always be checking for spelling and grammatical errors, technical imperfections or something that potentially could offend your target market. Errors in your marketing materials detract from the professionalism of your business, and send a negative message at a time when you want to make a great first impression. If you don’t care if you project the best possible image for your business, then what makes a potential client think you will deliver excellent service to them? All successful marketing efforts need to be consistent, accurate in their details and also regular, so it remains top of mind with your audience, but not so regularly that it becomes annoying. No matter the marketing medium you’ve chosen whether it’s print, web, video or whatever, always have another pair of eyes look at it before you publish or post, both online and off, because attention to detail matters.
3. Not tracking results
If you don’t monitor the results of your marketing activities, then you really don’t know what works. And if you don’t know what works, then there’s no way to learn if you make mistakes, or to even know if you’ve made a mistake in the first place. Accurately tracking the results of some traditional marketing activities such as newspaper ads or letter box drops can be difficult. But in today’s online world, whether it’s monitoring activity on your website with Google Analytics, or checking sales conversions through pay-per-click ads, precise data is at your fingertips. And if you aren’t closely analysing these results and adjusting your activities accordingly, you’re wasting your marketing budget. Once you know what’s working you can concentrate on those forms of marketing and stop spending time and money on the ones that aren’t.
4. Avoiding New Technology
Operating with outdated technology can cause long-term problems throughout your business and will ultimately impact on both productivity and profit. In small businesses, new technology can provide opportunities, help you work more efficiently and also save money. New technology, however, can be intimidating to some who may not be keen to embrace it and who don’t fully appreciate how it can benefit their business. But an unwillingness to adapt to it can potentially be a disaster for your business. Technology is constantly changing, there are new tools available all the time and if you don’t make the most of it it’s very easy to be left behind.
5. Not having a website
A fundamental marketing mistake we see quite often is not having a website. It’s surprising the number of small businesses that still don’t have a website twenty-five years after the introduction of the world-wide-web. Every business, regardless of size, needs to have a web presence. This is the first place anyone goes to search for products and services or research your organisation. Your website will often be the first impression they have of your business. This web presence must be technically up to date, simple to navigate and be desktop, mobile and tablet friendly. A well designed, informative and modern website can make a world of difference. It needn’t be complex, just a few pages is quite often all that you need. It should have some information about yourself, an outline of your business offering and contact details. It’s also very important that your logo, colour scheme and branding is consistent with all your other marketing material.
6. Ignoring Social Media
It’s important these days to embrace social media and not ignore it. Depending on the business you’re in, it’s becoming increasingly important to interact with, and to be active on, sites like Facebook and Linked In. If you’re not, you may run the risk of being left out of the loop on important business issues. But you shouldn’t spread yourself too thin. Many businesses would like to be active on every single social network but we usually don’t have the time and resources. Taking on too many social media platforms in an attempt to gain positive exposure and audience engagement can backfire. You need to be present and engage with your connections and if you aren’t, it can quickly have the opposite effect. Select those social networks that are the most appropriate to connecting with your target audience and be there one hundred percent.
7. Not knowing who you’re selling to
Finally, not understanding who your ideal customer is and trying to reach everyone is big mistake. It’s also not enough to create a marketing budget and try a little bit of everything. You need to do market research, identify who you are trying to reach, where you can find them, how best to deliver your message and how they will react to it. Often the least expensive thing such as attending a networking event, where you actually meet potential clients, can be the most successful, and some of the most expensive like placing a newspaper ad is actually the least effective. You also have to know what your competitors are up to, you mustn’t ignore them. You should try to monitor their marketing and learn from their successes and failures. Having said all this, you should also not be afraid to try new marketing activities if what you’re doing isn’t working.