10 Small Business Marketing Mistakes

5th, 2021
Keyhole - Digital Marketing Agency - Joe Dudeck
Joe Dudeck
President + Founder
Categories: Marketing Strategy, SEO
5th, 2021
Keyhole - Digital Marketing Agency - Joe Dudeck
Joe Dudeck
President + Founder
Categories: Marketing Strategy, SEO
10 Small Business Marketing Mistakes

Marketing is often a big hurdle for small business owners due to time, budget, and knowledge constraints. However difficult the leap, marketing is essential to growing business and keeping customers coming. While many small business owners know this to be true, they make some big assumptions and marketing mistakes that could do more harm than good.

We find that when they have a fundamental misunderstanding of best marketing practices, they create irreparable harm to the brand and company. If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, try and avoid these marketing mistakes and focus priorities in the right direction.

1. Marketing Without Goals

No matter what type of marketing you aim to carry out, the first thing you need to establish is a goal. Without solid goals in mind, small business owners can fall prey to each and every whim that comes their way.

Start by setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-based). This would include such goals as “increase email newsletter sign-ups by 25% this quarter.” With a goal in mind, you’ll be better able to design successful marketing campaigns and drive business in the direction you want to go.

2. Marketing Without an Audience

There are two ways small business owners fail in this category. First, too many business owners market to everybody. After all, “everybody” is the largest possible audience, so it offers the largest possible return, right? Wrong. The reality is only a few very specific groups will bring in most of a business’ revenue, and “casting their net wide” means neglecting these in favor of fickle possibilities. Being both unique and relevant requires you to create specifically crafted messaging for one niche segment of the marketplace at a time.

Second, you (as a small business owner) are not your customer. When this happens, it’s because you’ve made broad assumptions about your target audience without relying on clear data. If you are a 50-year-old small business owner and Gen Z is your target customer, don’t assume you know them and their needs. Market research, customer data and trends are your only path to the truth.

Your customer is the foundation of every solid digital marketing strategy, so define your market and get to know the people you are selling to. The best way to do so is to create a buyer persona for the two or three types of customers you know your product serves. Ninety percent of companies using personas have been able to create a clearer understanding of their buyers.

What is a Buyer Persona?
Your buyers all have differing personality traits and past experiences that make them who they are. They all consume information differently and respond on differing timelines. Your job is to reach them where they are and do so in a way that best caters to their specific needs. And that’s where buyer personas come into play.

3. Ignoring Audience Pain Points

Your audience is primarily interested in solving their problems and pain points – not in your products. Instead of focusing on your product’s features:

  1. Talk to your prospects and customers about how it can make their lives better.
  2. Describe how it can transform them in a way they hope for.
  3. Think hard about the offer you’re making and the desired “after” state.
  4. Articulate the journey from “before” to “after.”

The success of your digital marketing depends on the clarity of your offer’s desired outcome. The better you can address their issues, the more they’ll feel heard. Companies that take extra care of customer experience drive revenue 4-8 percent higher than those who do not.

4. Marketing Without a Strategy

No small business owner wants to waste money, but that’s exactly the marketing mistakes you’ll be making if you start without a plan in place. A marketing plan should point directly back to and support the original goals you hope to achieve. You should also know which marketing channels resonate with your target audience, so that hitting your goals isn’t an issue. Your plan should include time, frequency and costs so every aspect is accounted.

5. Too Much Marketing Spend All at Once

This ties back to marketing without a strategy.

Successful investment in a marketing campaign demands careful balance and planning. Investing too much money at the start of your campaign, before you’ve gotten to know your audience and their pain points, can create excess waste. You don’t yet know what marketing platforms work best because you haven’t had the opportunity to test them. Therefore, you’re essentially gambling on what you think might work.

On the other hand, investing too little will leave you with few results, and barely enough data to form any meaningful conclusions. Test based on audience data and then launch in a way that will create lasting impact and not waste dollars.

6. SEO Without a Strategy

We get it. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a tough game to monitor and keep up with, especially as search platforms optimize algorithms. It’s not always fun to stay on top of, but it’s necessary.

With over two billion blog posts alone popping up every day, optimizing your content for search engines is the only way to gain visibility and attract organic traffic. Not to mention, 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine.

As a small business, you should be certain to strategize SEO around finding the right keywords, producing quality content, making content mobile-friendly, incorporating backlinking, and optimizing images and URLs for keywords.

Search Engine Marketing Tips for Your Small Business
Is your website housing dead copy? Your pages may be filled with strong, compelling messages and arresting images. But if no one’s reading it—if it’s not being discovered—then it’s useless.

7. Social Media Without a Strategy

Whether it’s organic activity or paid ads, a shocking number of small businesses use social media without any direction or plan in mind. Some approach social with the attitude of “as long as we’re on the platform, we’re doing ok.” This is old school thinking.

Social media holds great opportunities to engage with customers directly and expand reach and build solid relationships. Finding the right channel, the right time, with the right content is key to harnessing the power of social for small business.

We recommend starting with talking to your target audience and finding out where they spend their time online. From there, it’s a matter of posting regularly (with quality content), driving consumers with specific calls-to-action, and engaging with them on the platform.

8. Doing Your Own Branding

Trying to market your business without a brand strategy is like throwing a party without telling anyone the address. Your brand serves as a foundation of identity for new and old customers alike. It should underline and inform all messaging you put out, from the content of your website to the images on your social media banners. When people see your brand, notice your logo and pick up on your style of speaking and area of expertise, they’ll form a brand opinion of your business. If you don’t really understand branding (or design), don’t pretend you know; bring in the experts.

9. Failing to Track and Report on Results

Results bring a wide range of emotions for small business owners. They often fail to track outcomes at all or they set unrealistic expectations (more on that below).

First, without tracking results, you won’t know if marketing is working. Today’s digital marketing tools let you gather more data than ever before on how customers respond to your marketing messages. It’s important for small businesses to learn how to use the analytics tools offered by social media platforms, email marketing services and other marketing apps.

By learning from what works and what doesn’t, you’ll be able to fine-tune your marketing message and get better and better results.

10. Expecting Overnight Results

We see these marketing mistakes all the time. Small business owners get demotivated if they don’t see the immediate results of their marketing efforts. So many small business owners move from one marketing idea to another, never sticking with one marketing tactic long enough to see results.

Whether you’re doing SEO, social media marketing or branding optimization, it takes time for your results to show up. Stop chasing the latest marketing buzzword or trend, trust the experts, and focus on your customers. Create marketing that educates them about what your product or service can do for them, promote it in the proper channels, and give it time to make an impact on your target audience.

Before applying recommendations to the mistakes you may be making in digital marketing, put your efforts to the test. Define what needs to be modified, what results you are currently achieving and which digital marketing channel you need the most.

Do you find yourself in hot water with the mistakes listed above? Keyhole Marketing can help you avoid them and maximize your every digital marketing channel’s results. Contact our team today to learn how!

Where Content Should Fit Into Your Marketing Plan
“Ernie Ball does content marketing better than any company I know — and has the results to show for it.”...
Read More
Local SEO for Small Business
We make sure your nearby customers can find your physical location and the products and services they need.
Get Found Around Town