It’s no secret that running a successful small business is hard work, but it also can be very rewarding. Quite often, small business owners and their teams wear many hats, diving head-first into different areas of the business without the skills and expertise they need to be highly effective. Marketing is a perfect example. Many times, a small business will leave the marketing to someone who doesn’t have the knowledge necessary to take care of standard marketing best practices. As a result, the business struggles while the under qualified team members make common small business marketing mistakes.
Let’s take a closer look at small business marketing. As of 2021, 47% of small businesses run their own marketing (Nerdwallet). However, most small business owners and/or the people they dedicate to that department, aren’t marketers and lack the awareness of the nuances and tactics that can impact their bottom line. In fact, a Constant Contact survey in 2020 found that only 61% of small business owners reported having a basic understanding of marketing. Additionally, the survey found that small business owners struggle with various marketing tasks, including creating a marketing plan (47%), reaching new customers (42%), and measuring the effectiveness of marketing efforts (34%).
Without adept marketing knowledge, most teams make common small business marketing mistakes that stifle growth. We compiled data from the projects we performed for small businesses over the last two years and found that most of them make the same, common marketing mistakes and overlook key pieces of effective marketing best practices.
Here are the most common small business marketing mistakes.
Lack of a Clear Marketing Strategy
Many small business owners fail to develop a comprehensible marketing strategy and instead engage in a haphazard approach to marketing. Without a clear, documented plan and roadmap, marketing efforts can be ineffective, inefficient, and quite costly. Search Engine Journal found that 50% of small businesses don’t have a basic marketing strategy. As we all know, a marketing strategy is essential for small businesses because it helps them stay organized, achieve their business objectives, grow their customer base, and ultimately, increase their revenue and profitability.
Poor Website Design
Poor website design is a huge mistake made by many small businesses. A poorly designed website drives potential customers away. A Forbes study found “57% percent of users are less likely to recommend a business if they have an unsatisfactory experience with their website, which includes a poorly designed one. A website’s design can impact the user’s perception of the company and influence their decision to recommend it to others.”
Small businesses NEED to invest in a professional and user-friendly website that accurately reflects the brand and offers users valuable company information. Neglecting to establish a website or social media presence can make it difficult for potential customers to find and learn about your business.
Ignoring the Power of Social Media
Social media is an affordable and effective way to reach a large audience, but many small businesses neglect to utilize it. Social platforms provide an opportunity for small businesses to interact with their customers, answer questions, and receive feedback, which can help improve customer satisfaction and loyalty and build brand awareness.
Furthermore, social media marketing can be much more affordable than traditional marketing channels, making it a great option for small businesses with limited marketing budgets. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn offer targeting options that allow small businesses to reach specific demographics, interests, and behaviors, which often results in more effective advertising campaigns. Small businesses that have a strong social media presence can have a competitive advantage over those that don’t.
Not Knowing the Target Audience
It is generally recognized that understanding your target audience is crucial for the success of any business, regardless of its size. Failing to understand the needs, preferences, and behaviors of potential customers can lead to ineffective marketing strategies, poor customer engagement, and ultimately, low sales and revenue. It is a very common small business marketing mistake. That being the case, it’s highly recommended that small business owners invest time and effort in researching and identifying their target audience. This may involve conducting surveys, analyzing customer data, or even engaging with customers directly to gain insights into their needs and expectations.
When you identify your target market and what pains they suffer from, you can more easily match your product solutions and speak directly to their needs. This often attracts more qualified leads and shortens the sales cycle because you’re talking to them about solving the problem at hand, rather than talking about products they don’t need or can’t use.
Many small businesses focus their marketing predominantly on product features, rather than the benefits and how they can solve problems. Customers want to know how your product or service will benefit them, not just hear about the features it offers. Sometimes, mentioning too many features can overwhelm and confuse prospective customers, driving them away and to a competitor. This too is a common small business marketing mistake. It’s paramount to understand what problems your target audience is experiencing, so you can compassionately advise them and show them how your product will help solve their issues.
Differentiating from Competitors
When a business of any size fails to differentiate itself from its competition, it fails to stand out in a crowded market. It’s important to identify and promote your value proposition as well as your unique selling proposition, as these can set your business apart from your competitors. Focusing on the benefits of your products and what problems they solve will not only speak directly to your target audience, but it will differentiate your business from your competition and lead to more effective marketing.
Inconsistent branding can be a common problem for small businesses that lack a clear brand strategy or fail to maintain consistent messaging and visual identity across various channels and touchpoints. This can result in confusion among customers, weaken brand recognition, and hinder efforts to establish a strong brand image. To avoid this small business marketing mistake, you should invest in developing a clear brand strategy that includes a well-defined brand identity, messaging, and guidelines for how to apply these elements across all channels and platforms. By doing so, small businesses can build a strong and consistent brand that resonates with their target audience and helps to differentiate them from competitors. Consistent branding across all channels increases revenue by 23%. (source)
Neglecting Email Marketing
Thirty-six percent (36%) of small businesses neglect to invest in email marketing campaigns, resulting in missed opportunities to engage with customers, acquire more qualified leads and drive sales. Email marketing is a powerful and cost-effective tool for small businesses. Yet, it is one of the most common small business marketing mistakes. It allows them to nurture leads and stay top-of-mind with customers, which helps increase brand awareness and customer retention. Not only that, email generates $44 for every $1 spent, making it the most effective marketing tactic by far. Businesses of any size should invest in email marketing and use it to reach new customers, build brand loyalty and drive more sales.
Ignoring Customer Feedback
Feedback from customers can be invaluable in improving a business’ products, services, and marketing efforts. Feedback can come from the customer itself through forums, comments and product reviews. It can come from the sales team through information they gather about what problems, challenges and refusals they are hearing from prospects on calls and through direct messages. This information can make for a great FAQs section on your website, which will increase SEO, while providing insights and answers for the sales team to troubleshoot on future calls. Ignoring customer feedback can lead to missed opportunities and a disconnect with your target audience.
Not Setting Goals
Many small businesses don’t set goals, identify key metrics or measure the success of their marketing efforts. More often than not, they don’t have the resources to conduct extensive market research. However, it’s important to identify key performance metrics and measure the results of marketing efforts to determine what’s working and what’s not. If goals are not set and success of marketing campaigns is not measured, organizations are liable to be wasting time and money, misusing resources and missing opportunities to improve the approach. By tracking metrics like website traffic, social media engagement, conversion rate, cost per lead, customer retention, sales growth and others, a firm can adjust its marketing strategies and tactics as needed to improve results.
Forgetting About Mobile Viewers
More often than not, small businesses forget to cater to mobile viewers. This is often due to limited resources, technical expertise, understanding user behavior, and a focus on other immediate concerns for the business. It is important for small business owners to recognize the importance of mobile optimization and prioritize it to remain competitive in today’s digital landscape. A Statista report in 2021 found that approximately 60% of small business website visits were on mobile devices.
This highlights the importance for smaller businesses to ensure that their website is mobile-friendly and optimized for different devices. With the increasing use of mobile devices for browsing and online shopping, having a responsive website that adapts to various screen sizes and offers a smooth user experience is crucial for attracting and retaining customers.
Developing and Writing Their Own Content
While small business owners may be capable of developing and writing their own content, they may be too close to the product or service to be objective. This can result in messaging that is too technical or focused on features rather than benefits, which may not attract potential customers. Outsourcing content writing to professionals can save time, improve quality, enhance SEO, provide a fresh perspective, and allow owners to focus on other areas of their business.
Additionally, outsourcing marketing content development can help small businesses create more effective and consistent messaging that resonates with their target audience. Finally, small businesses may not have the resources to invest in marketing campaigns or hire a dedicated marketing team. In these cases, it’s more cost-effective to outsource marketing content development to a marketing consultant. Marketing consultants offer a wide-range of marketing services including strategic guidance, marketing plans development, and content production that’s tailored to the needs of your business.
Compared to hiring an agency or a full-time marketing employee, outsourcing to a marketing consultant can be much more affordable, as consultants typically work on a project or hourly basis and you only pay for the services you need. Furthermore, marketing consultants often have more flexibility and can work with you to fit within your budget.
Fatiguing Their Audience
Small business owners should be mindful of the potential for audience fatigue. Repeatedly presenting the same message or content to the target audience often results in boredom or disinterest. This can lead to a decrease in engagement and ultimately, a loss of customers.
To prevent audience fatigue, businesses can vary content by asking and answering relevant questions, introducing new topics and formats, and offering fresh messaging. A firm can conduct surveys, host polling and create different types of content such as blog posts, videos, infographics, or social media posts. Using humor, storytelling, or offering valuable insights can also keep the audience engaged and interested in the business.
Monitoring analytics and listening to audience feedback helps an organization understand what is resonating with targets and what is not. By staying in tune with the audience’s needs and preferences, a business can continually adjust its content to keep people engaged.
Retaining Current Customers
Small businesses may focus too much on acquiring new customers and not enough on retaining existing ones. Customer retention is critical for long-term success, as loyal clients are more likely to refer new ones and provide valuable feedback. Acquiring new customers can be expensive, and it’s generally more cost-effective to retain existing ones. If a business neglects existing customers, they might decide to take their business elsewhere, resulting in lost revenue. By providing excellent customer service, addressing concerns promptly, and offering incentives and loyalty programs, organizations can create a loyal customer base and build a strong foundation for growth.
Small businesses can avoid common marketing mistakes by focusing on the following:
- target audience,
- utilizing social media,
- differentiating from competitors,
- investing in website design,
- highlighting benefits over features,
- maintaining consistent branding,
- measuring results,
- and avoiding trying to do too much at once.
While marketing is challenging for any business, there are ways to accomplish goals through practicing these best practices.
A marketing consultant can help a business avoid these common small business marketing mistakes and provide valuable guidance, save time and money, and help achieve marketing goals more efficiently. Similar to hiring an accountant, a sales person and/or a HR representative, a marketing consultant can be a positive part of your team – without requiring a salary and benefits. More often than not, a marketing consultant will be a positive line on your balance sheet.
We can help you
Digital Consulting Services is a marketing consultancy firm that specializes in developing revenue-growing marketing programs including websites, SEO and increasing lead volume for small and medium sized businesses. We understand small business because we are a small business. We will take care of your marketing needs, so you can take care of your business. Click here to learn more about us.