Marketing people love to write about marketing blunders and mistakes and we all have our opinion on what should be included in the top mistakes every small business must avoid. However, even though we continue to make these blunders visible, I still see these mistakes made, costing small businesses dearly in terms of dollars and results. Solid marketing efforts take a combination of planning, creativity and patience. As you review your plan and adjust for the upcoming year, make sure you are not unknowingly committing the following.
Not Developing a Marketing Plan
Jumping right into activities without assessing your target market needs and desires and understanding how best to reach them sets you up for inefficient marketing with little to no results. By not establishing a solid plan before you being your communication results in ineffective programs that waste your budget.
Not Clearly Defining Your Target Market
Trying to be everything to everybody means you dilute your message and attract no one. People want to do business with someone who understands them and can help them achieve their goals. By specifically focusing on a niche market that you work with, you can clearly identify why they should do business with you and make selection of your services much easier for them to make.
Not Focusing Your Activities
The value of developing a plan is to set the direction of your marketing activities so you can focus your efforts. Once you decide on your strategy, you need to stay focused on executing that strategy. Constant change to compete with the latest fad does not breed success. Figure out what will work for your business and stick with it.
Sticking With An Ineffective Strategy
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Don’t get complacent and think that “things will get better” if you are not getting the results you want with your current activities. Review what is happening at least quarterly and adjust as needed.
Changing a Strategy That Works
On the other hand, if you have a winning marketing strategy that consistently gives results, then why change it? Enhance, extend and improve your plan to keep it fresh and effective, but don’t make radical changes to something that is working.
Delivering an Inconsistent Marketing Message
If each activity delivers your message differently, your prospects will get confused and your results will be poor. Being consistent with your message and brand across all of your marketing activities will increase your chances of being seen by your prospects.
Believing a Second Rate Web Site Works
With online and social media marketing being so critically important today for small businesses, it is important to make sure you don’t make too many common mistakes with your web presence. With your website being the hub of your online presence, having a poorly developed, non-optimized website is the kiss of death for your online efforts. As recently as the writing of this post, I spoke with someone who paid dearly for a horrible website and promises of first page search engine results. Perception is reality on the web and people are not going to do business with a company that does not have a quality Web site – period.
Stopping an Activity Too Soon
Easily the most costly mistake is changing your marketing messages or brand midstream. Just about the time you are sick of your marketing, your prospects are just beginning to recognize who you are. Marketing requires patience so give your marketing time to work.
Focusing Too Much On You Or Your Company
Your customers don’t care who you are or how great your company is. They only want to know how working with you is going to fulfill a need or desire. They need to see the value you offer and realize the potential benefits of working with you quickly. Keep the details about you and your company as background information and keep the focus of your messages on how you plan to help your customers.
Cutting Marketing when the Economy is Bad
Marketing keeps you visible when the market is slow and helps to generate leads, build credibility and ensure that your prospects know that you are alive and well. Cutting marketing is the biggest mistake small businesses make in tough economic times. Reducing spending and ensuring your marketing dollar is spent wisely is important – there are many things you can do at a low cost or free – but stopping marketing completely can be deadly.
Be aware of your marketing at all times so you can avoid falling into these traps. Your business will be more successful if you do.
What marketing mistakes do you see small businesses make regularly that I left off the list? Let us know.