[Article] Top 10 Common Marketing Mistakes
When you run a small business, you’re often in a situation where both time and money are limited. Without the fall back enjoyed by larger, more established businesses, this places greater emphasis on your marketing to be as good as it can be. We understand the issues of small budgets and limited time as well as anyone so have taken the time to put together this short blog highlighting the top mistakes businesses make in marketing. Some may not apply to you, but if they do then we may be able to save you wasting your time and throwing away your money.
- Not using a website or thinking Facebook is enough
In today’s world, a website is essential. In a study by Salesforce, the website was found to be the number two marketing tool after word of mouth. You my read this and think ‘but surely everyone has a website?’ and we thought the same, but many small businesses either think Facebook is enough or, because they are ‘local’, they don’t need one. Nearly everyone searches for a company’s website before taking any further steps. With no website, you’ll risk losing customers and neglecting the online window to your business that is essential. Not only this, the website will act as the hub to which you direct all online traffic. With so many cost-effective solutions on the market, there is no excuse not to have one.
- Poor tracking of data
This probably won’t apply to larger companies, but small businesses or start-ups can take warning. Ineffective measurement of your marketing activities leaves you without the quantifiable, objective data needed to show whether a campaign is working. If you don’t collect data, you could end up spend time and money on something that doesn’t work and miss opportunities to use tools that do. Our advice is to determine what KPI’s you need to measure and test small. All online marketing platforms provide a mountain of data so you have no excuse. Just remember, you will have to give it time to collect accurate, reliable data, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket unless you know it truly delivers.
- Targeting the wrong audience
In a previous blog we suggested performing a customer analysis and this was for good reason. Often, small businesses will target new and exciting audiences without focusing on the customers they already have. Imagine you owned a gym and believed your target audience was young athletes, all between the age of 20–30, but when you visit the gym, you see it full of middle aged women after a nice place to work out without leering men. By advertising to a younger audience, you risk driving away your core business. If you want to attract a new audience then that’s great, but make sure you take the time to research who your current customers are and ensure you meet their needs. Remember, it’s 6–8 times cheaper to retain customer than it is to get a new one.
- Neglecting to educate yourself
This is a fault made by both established and new companies. Steve Jobs once said that Apple doesn’t hire people so it can tell them what to do, they hire people so they can be told what to do. We agree with this. You can’t be an expert in all things and if you try, the best you can expect is to be a jack of all trades and master of none. Plus, as a business owner you will have weaknesses which will be complimented by other people’s skills. Sounds good so far, right? It is for the most part, but without learning the basics of marketing, you can end up in trouble. Let’s say you’re looking to hire someone to optimise your site. Person A promises a high, first-page ranking within a month. Guaranteed. Person B says it will take longer, maybe 2–3 months. You go with Person A because of the sales pitch. However, the smallest research will tell you nothing in website optimisation is ever guaranteed. Even if Person A is cheaper, all your budget will have been wasted. The reverse could be true. You may expect a first-page result instantly, not get one and end up firing an honest and true company. Moral of the story, learn the basics of marketing. The internet is FULL of free information (like this blog!) meaning you have no excuse of being ignorant.
- Not written marketing plans
Ever heard about how the best to ensure your business succeeds is to write a business plan? Well, it works much the same way for marketing.
Time and budgets are short, so there’s an urge to skip as many “unnecessary” steps for marketing as possible. Planning your marketing strategy, the specific tactics you’ll use, how much they’ll cost and how much time they’ll take dramatically increases your chances for success.
Recent proof of this showed up in the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs 2015 B2C Content Marketing Trends report. They found that marketers with a written content marketing strategy were twice as likely to say their marketing was effective as those that had no written strategy. In the lowest tier of marketers (as rated by how effective they rated their content marketing), only 5% had a written strategy.
- Not engaging in marketing
What’s the first company you think of when we say burger? We could probably guess. Now, do you think it is the best burger on the market? Again, we can probably guess your answer. The bestselling and most popular product isn’t always the best, it’s usually the one that’s marketed best. Marketing is an essential piece of any business activity and, when partnered with innovation, is what keeps your business in operation. You don’t have to hire fancy agencies or spend thousands, simply doing something and measuring the success will be a great starting point.
- Expecting results too soon
Marketing efforts can take weeks, or even months before you see a result. In a world of now, now, now, it’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting your marketing efforts to deliver instant results. Be patient. If you were moving a boulder you wouldn’t give one massive effort and expect it to be rolling along. No. You would keep applying effort until momentum gathered and it was rolling along and the same applies to marketing.
- Not having a consistent marketing budget (no matter how small)
Marketing is a process that requires a regular, consistent investment to increase your visibility and demonstrate your expertise. If you stop marketing to cut costs, your marketing efforts, and ultimately your business, will fail. Many online marketing platforms offer inexpensive marketing solutions that let you increase awareness of your brand and even generate sales. This means that you don’t have to invest—yes, spending on marketing is an investment, not an expense—large sums to actively market your business. That said, depending on your budget, be careful not to spread yourself too thin. Spreading a small budget too thin will ultimately weaken the effect of your activity and run the risk of not interacting with customers as you need to.
- Not making your marketing customer focused
Your marketing, contrary to popular belief, should not focus on solely promoting your own products and services. Instead, focus on communicating what your services or products do for people. The customer should always be the centre of your marketing efforts, not yourself. Your customer is the reason you are in business. Concentrate on showcasing how valuable your services are, but don’t go overboard. Focus on filling their need.
A surefire way to fail at marketing is to assume you know your buyer personas. Companies often make assumptions about their customer and what they want and sadly, some companies will function under false assumptions for years. You must know your audience- both your current and future customers. Discover what they want and need. Then, appeal to that profile instead of a preconceived notion about who your potential buyers may or may not be.
- Underestimating Cost-of-Customer-Acquisition
Due to the exploding popularity of SaaS solutions among consumers, marketing a product is much more difficult than it was several years ago. According to Mike Sweeney, due to increased competition in the subscription business industry, companies need a holistic strategy that allows them to acquire new revenue at a cost that does not exceed customer lifetime value.
Be realistic about your metrics, and ensure your budget includes an allocation of funds towards customer retention. It’s the only way to ensure you remain above water.