5 Marketing Mistakes Too Many Small Businesses Make (and How to Avoid Them)

July 20, 2021
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If you are a small business owner, you are likely juggling numerous tasks to keep the business afloat. Although the goal of many owners is to sell more products or services, very few know how to effectively do so through marketing (on top of everything else).

According to Investopedia, one of the most common reasons businesses fail can be attributed to poor marketing and internet presence. It is no longer enough to have a website or social media page. You must ensure your marketing reaches the right people at the right time with the right message.

While there is no marketing rule book that will guarantee virality or increase customer retention, there are, however, many marketing mistakes that can hinder your chances of growth. Here are the five common mistakes I have seen during my 10 years working as a marketing strategist, and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: You don’t know your ideal customer.

The first step in any effective marketing campaign is knowing your ideal customer. While many new business owners think of their ideal customer demographically (i.e., age and gender), many do not have a deep understanding of who their customer is psychologically (i.e., interests and desires). Thus, making it challenging to find and target them through marketing.

How to Fix It

Form a detailed description of your target customer; this is also known as a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a fictional person who embodies the characteristics of your ideal customer. To help build a strong buyer person, conduct market research from your customer base through surveys and interviews. 

The goal of this market research is to deeply understand how and why your customers make certain buying decisions. These findings will help you create detailed content and messaging that appeals to your target audience.

Mistake #2: You ignore your competitors.

No business can operate in a complete bubble. However, many business owners prefer not to look at their competitors in fear of losing focus or becoming a copycat.

How to Fix It

Running a competitor analysis can help you understand your competition’s strengths and weaknesses in relation to your own. Tools such as Facebook Ad Library and SpyFu allow you to view your competitors’ marketing campaigns. 

Analyzing your competition will help you better understand your market and how your customers are responding to it. You can use these findings to run more effective marketing campaigns online.

Mistake #3: You focus too little on brand awareness.

According to Small Business Trends, making money is listed as the top concern for many business owners. However, if your ideal customer does not know who you are, how can you make more sales? Many business owners spend too much time focusing on bottom-funnel marketing activities (i.e., purchases), that they forget to establish trust and credibility through brand awareness.

How to Fix It

Focus on building brand awareness through public relations, influencer partnerships, and social media advertisements. Use this opportunity to establish your brand voice, build relationships, and inform your target customer that you are a credible solution to their needs.

Mistake #4: You are not focused on retaining customers.

On average, it costs six times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. According to a McKinsey study, repeat e-commerce customers spend more than double what new customers spend. So, why are business owners unable to focus on customer satisfaction and retention?

How to Fix It

Ensuring customers stick with you throughout your business life cycle will not only increase profits but yield higher positive word-of-mouth referrals (hello, free marketing!). 

To achieve customer loyalty, prove your customers are important to you through rewards, social media shoutouts, and personalized communication. Customers that trust companies they do business with are more likely to purchase again in the future and recommend to others.

Mistake #5: You don’t look at your analytics.

Marketing analytics helps you understand how well your marketing campaigns are working and assists you in recognizing what adjustments need to be made in order to achieve success. However, many business owners complete their marketing campaigns without ever analyzing the data.  

How to Fix It

Develop key performance indicators (KPIs) before running any marketing campaign. KPIs are specific, numerical marketing metrics that businesses track to measure progress toward a defined goal. Example KPIs can be digital marketing ROI, conversion rates, and traffic. Set aside time every week to track the results of your marketing. Take note of what is working versus what is not, and use that information to inform your next marketing initiative.

About the author: Allyssa Munro is a marketer and published writer with a decade of experience building strong brands for top retailers, organizations, and business leaders, including Lord & Taylor, Dolce & Gabbana, Buxom Cosmetics, and Bare Minerals. Allyssa holds an MBA from Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business, and is certified in marketing research by The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Allyssa founded Meg & Munro, a digital-first marketing and communications agency for beauty and lifestyle brands and the creators who lead them. The agency specializes in public relations, social media, and content creation. Learn more at www.megandmunro.com or follow @megandmunro.

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