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Avoidable Marketing Mistakes Small Business Owners Make.

Marketing your small business is one of the most exciting parts of business ownership. What makes it so exciting is that there isn’t just one way to promote a business. In fact, when you consider all of the possible combinations of marketing activities, there are thousands of ways to get the word out about your small business. And the best part is, you can tailor your marketing activities to what works best for your business.

While I believe that, in general, mistakes can be a positive experience (they help you learn in a lasting way that promotes growth), you can save a lot of time, energy, and money if you avoid some mistakes before you make them. Here are some common small business marketing mistakes you should try to avoid in your business.

Not Having a Marketing Plan

Trying to promote your business without a marketing plan is like shopping for a red shirt with a blindfold over your eyes. You may get lucky and end up with the end result you want, but chances are you will waste a lot of time and money in the process. You need a marketing plan; every business does. So make sure you start there first.

Being Unclear About What Makes Your Business Different

Your business is not exactly like any other business out there. If it were, you probably wouldn’t have started the business in the first place. In order to market your business effectively, you need to identify what sets you apart from the competition. Start by creating a unique selling proposition (USP) that you can refer to as you begin marketing.

Trying to Sell to Everyone

One very common mistake of new small business owners is considering everyone to be a potential customer. While it may be true that you sell a product or service that appeals to a broad audience when it comes to marketing you need to narrow down your target to a recognizable group so you can use messaging and marketing approaches that reach them directly.

Underestimating the Power of Word of Mouth Marketing

The beauty of word of mouth marketing is that it is free and it happens naturally. If you provide an excellent product or service, then your customers are thrilled, and they tell their family, friends, and colleagues about it. If you encourage your clients to spread the word, you can get even more out of word of mouth marketing. And not only does it bring in new customers, but it can also result in ongoing repeat business.

Not Spending enough time on Marketing

The biggest mistake small business owners make with their marketing efforts is not spending enough time on them in the first place. According to a recent survey, 92 percent of all small businesses planned to invest more time and money in social media this year. No matter how much time you’re spending on social media now, devoting more attention to social media and other marketing campaigns can reap rewards quickly.

Only spending a few hours every week on your marketing efforts won’t provide you with enough time to create, execute, and analyze your campaigns, let alone develop one that can drive qualified leads to your business. If you can’t devote more time to your marketing efforts, you’ll never determine what works for you and what doesn’t.

Not Spending enough Money on Marketing Campaigns

The second biggest culprit for marketing issues is not spending enough money on your campaigns to see meaningful results. Even though sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter suggest that as little as $5 can fund a meaningful social media marketing campaign, that amount of money doesn’t get you very far, especially if you want your ad to hit a significant number of potential customers.

The temptation to under-fund your marketing efforts is strong, especially if you’re spreading advertising dollars across social media, search, and outdoor marketing channels. But the more you slice up an already small budget, the less return on your investment you can expect.

Not Diversifying Your Marketing Efforts

Not every marketing mistake boils down to misspent time and money. Not varying your marketing channels and campaigns can be just as harmful as getting your spending level wrong. If you only stick to one or two marketing outlets, you’re only reaching a small subsection of your overall prospects.

There are more ways to distribute advertising than ever before. Whereas most of your marketing once went to print, radio, and television advertising, you now have the option of digital advertising, content marketing, podcast ads, and promoted search results. You’re leaving prospects out of the loop if you only target a few of these channels.

Targeting the Wrong Audience

We’re all used to hearing radio advertisements for products we’d never use. That’s pretty understandable, given advertisers can’t target individual listeners over the airwaves. But when you come across a social media ad that has nothing to do with your interests, it’s a bit more surprising.

The primary reason that people see ads for products they may not be interested in is improper audience selection. Social advertising tools allow you to hone in on specific user groups, usually defined by geography, interests, behaviors, or their affinity for your competition. Targeted advertising lets you serve advertisements to these smaller audiences, which means you’re looking for the right clientele and not wasting money by marketing to people who are unlikely to become clients.

Ignoring the Competition

While you want to make sure you are differentiating yourself from the competition, there is a lot you can learn by scoping out your biggest competitors. To start, you can learn a lot by conducting a Google search, and checking out what your competitors are doing on social media. Once you have some research on-hand, conduct a SWOT analysis for each major competitor and then your own business to uncover some new marketing opportunities.

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Identifying each of these factors for your business and other businesses in your field will give you insights into how you can beat out the competition.

Now that you know what to avoid as you get started marketing your small business, it’s time to focus on what you should be doing. Start putting your marketing plan together so you can reach new customers the right way.

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