Marketing is the lifeblood of your small business. If you’re looking to grow your customer base, increase revenue, or simply grow brand awareness, a savvy marketing strategy is critical.
Marketing for marketing’s sake, however, won’t always do the trick.
These 9 marketing mistakes commonly made by small businesses can actually sabotage your goals, rather than support them.
But don’t despair, the first step is awareness. If you are making any of these mistakes, most of them have easy fixes and can put your company on course to business success.
Mistake # 1: Believing that marketing is an expense, not an investment
The first mistake is a mindset issue. If you have the belief that your marketing program is just a business expense, and your first instinct is to slash the budget when things aren’t working right, then where will your future business leads come from?
You may not feel the pain right away, but without a steady stream of new business prospects, your business most likely will struggle.
Your company marketing program is a business investment and should be treated like one!
By looking at your marketing budget as an investment, and calculating an ROI (return on investment), you can be be armed with a method of determining the value of those invested dollars, and a reliable method of determining where your future investments should be allocated.
Mistake #2 - Not seeking professional help
Many entrepreneurs are ingrained with a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) mentality which refers to the value of self-sufficiency through completing tasks without the aid of paid specialists.
As an entrepreneur that has suffered with this particular affliction, I can certainly attest to the fact an individual can, with enough time and gumption seek out the knowledge required to complete any given task.
But at what cost?
I’m all for small business owners being in control of their marketing efforts but the sheer challenge of managing a modern marketing strategy has become overwhelming.
Modern marketing campaigns require many different creative elements and skillsets such as writing, graphic design and computer programming.
The learning curve for a busy entrepreneurs with little experience is staggering, leaving your company with a vastly incomplete marketing strategy missing key elements, such as blogging, social media marketing or a website that is (me-centric vs customer-centric) that doesn't resonate with your prospects.
It is far more cost-effective to develop your marketing strategy right the first time and not waste time creating visibility only to have to start over because your branding isn’t working.
Hiring an inbound agency who has experienced professionals can help you get it right the first time.
Check out our infographic on the cost difference of hiring a marketing agency vs. hiring internal staff.
Mistake # 3: Overt Self-Promotion
One of the most common mistakes that we see with company marketing strategies is that everything comes off as a sales pitch. A little self-promotion is fine, but you don’t want the greatness of your company or the attributes of your product to be the dominant theme to every piece of marketing collateral.
The main purpose of your marketing strategy is to generate highly qualified leads for your sales team. In order to achieve this, you need to establish trust, and offer your prospects real world solutions to their problems.
What’s the cause?
A crucial disconnect for many small businesses is believing that you and your customers value the same things. Let me give you a hint, YOU DON'T!
To achieve better results, focus on delivering high-impact, information rich content, backed up with quality research which will establish you as a thought leader in your industry.
What can you do for a customer that no one else can?
To successfully market your small business, don’t sell your product or service, sell them your solution to their problems.
Mistake #4: Not Using Your Website To Generate Leads
Your company website is the hub through which all of your online marketing activities will flow, now and in the future. Needless to say, IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT IT REPRESENT YOU WELL.
Unfortunately, many companies screw this one up royally!
Ideally your website will accomplish three things.
First it will provide a clear picture about the solutions that you provide. When a new visitor hits your site, you only have a few seconds to make an impression. The copy on your site and supporting visuals must communicate quickly and clearly what you do, and hit home for your ideal prospects.
Secondly, as discussed in Mistake #3 above, your website should be customer centric, not me centric! Too many businesses make the mistake of trying to showcase everything they do and design the website around the premise of, “look how good we are.” I have news for you, no one cares! Not yet at least.
Especially when a prospect is visiting your website for the first time. Your website must be designed to address the issues your buyer personas have. Not a nice fancy brochure that offers no real value!
Thirdly, your site needs to have content, that is updated on a regular basis. This is where a blog comes in. Blogging, when done consistently, is a key source of traffic generation for your website. With each new entry on your blog, you provide an opportunity for your prospects to find you, find a solution to a problem and subsequently learn about the solutions that your company provides (more on that later).
Mistake #5: Not Understanding SEO
One of the great equalizers in business marketing is an effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. Startups and small businesses are in a great position to leverage SEO to compete on the playing field with their larger competitors, but so many push this strategy to the back burner.
It's understandable because many small businesses have been burned in the past, by so-called marketing agencies or as we like to call them B.S. ARTISTS that talk a big game about getting you on the first page of Google, but never live up to their lofty promises.
This is also unfortunate because high Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings on Google can lead to more visitors to your website and ultimately more leads. SEO is not just about getting your website pages to rank. If you are in a business that has some heavy hitters in the same space, you won't be able to rank as high as they do for certain keywords. So how do you complete using SEO to attract a share of those customers? (Hint, see mistake #6)
Google search is still the number one way when it comes to how consumers find content online. With over 3 billion daily searches, investing in SEO is crucial to long term success.
It's important to understand, however, that SEO, while very important is only one part of a comprehensive marketing strategy.
Mistake #6: Not Having a Blog
It doesn’t matter what type of business you are in, whether your business is in a very narrow niche or one with mass appeal, business blogging is one of the best and highest ROI marketing tactics available today.
Blogging, when done consistently is a key source of traffic generation for your website. With each new entry on your blog, you provide an opportunity for your prospects to find you, find a solution to a problem and subsequently learn about the solutions that your company provides.
Unlike other legacy marketing tactics like an ad in your local newspaper or phone book, a blog article lasts forever.
Once you publish a blog post it’s out on the internet working day and night.
People can find articles on search engines even if they are several years old. A small time investment today can yield results far into the future.
To blog correctly you need to do the following:
- Host the blog on your company website (yourdomain.com/blog).
- Blog Consistently – At a minimum, several times per month.
- Write high-quality content that is useful and informative for your readers.
- Include images in your blog posts.
- Use social media to distribute your content.
- Respond to each blog comment. This will create trust and a community.
Mistake #7: Ignoring Social Media Networks
Most people who are not in business marketing will think that social media is just a waste of time. Many companies have started and abandoned social media campaigns over the last several years, giving it a bad rap as an inferior method of lead generation.
Many small business owners think of social media strictly in terms brand building, and not sales.
That’s unfortunate, because building up a profile on the popular social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest can become a valuable source of traffic, new opportunities and ultimately customers.
By combining content marketing and social media, you can have a significant impact on your bottom line over time.
Profiles can be quickly built up by sharing good content you create and curate online. Additional benefits to a good social media strategy, is the influence Google places on material that is shared across social networks. The more people share your content, the more your content will rise in SERP's.
Patience is the key. It can take about six to twelve months before your profiles become popular, so be make sure that you give the strategy the time it deserves.
Mistake #8: Weak or No Calls to Action on Your Website
As we discussed above, your most valuable corporate real estate may be your company website. When a potential customer visits your website, you have a prime opportunity to capture their attention and if they like what they see they may provide you with their contact information.
With offers and an enticing call-to-action.
When a prospect visits your website what do you want them to do?
Subscribe to a newsletter?
Sign up for a promotion?
Download an eBook or white paper?
Using a call to action button on your website is one simple strategy to collect information and continue with the permission of your prospect to market to them.
These are coded buttons that drive a webpage visitor to “click here” to sign up for a newsletter, or whatever your intention is. If you don’t take the initiative to help your customer find you, they likely won’t find you at all.
Without a call to action, your customers won’t know what to do with the information you’ve given them, and if they move on, you’ve lost your opportunity.
Mistake #9: Not Tracking Your Results
A popular definition of insanity in the business world is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.
Perhaps the biggest marketing mistake for most businesses is not tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and the ROI of your marketing spend.
With available tools like the HubSpot platform and Google analytics, performance data is readily available.
Quite frankly, I’m not sure how anyone effectively does their job in the marketing field without tracking the performance of their marketing initiatives.
At InTouch Marketing, HubSpot is our greatest weapon.
The data that HubSpot provides is simply unparalleled, whether it’s website visits, page performance, blog hits, social media metrics, Call-To-Action (CTA) clicks, and anything else you can think of is all found within this robust software package.
The easy to use interface allows you to aggregate all of your marketing efforts in one place, giving you numerical-proven insight into exactly what is and is not working.
Marketing has now shifted to a completely data-driven industry. Metrics like conversion rates, click-to-open percentages, SEO, keyword analytics, and submission rates are absolutely necessary to understand to ensure that your marketing if effective and driving the desired results for your business.
Marketing doesn’t have to be hard or overly expensive, however it does require an investment of both time and resources. By using retainer agreements it can protect you in the long run. Check out one of our articles on 5 reasons to use retainer agreements to see how they can protect you.
Avoid these mistakes and get busy growing your company.
The time and effort that you invest will be worth it!
David, a HubSpot Certified Inbound Marketer is the Chief Content Creator for InTouch Marketing and its clients.