10 Common Small Business Marketing Mistakes

The word marketing spelled with colorful letters

BY Nick Djurovic 

CEO of Digital Dot New York 
Learn more about Nick on Linkedin


When it comes to marketing, small business owners don’t have a lot of space for mistakes. One reason is the limited resources intended for marketing activities. Thus, every mistake is a setback, and the lack of funds to fall back on means even fewer resources and less time to rectify the error. To help you stay on the right track and achieve the best results, we have compiled a list of ten common small business marketing mistakes. Knowing what they are will help you avoid them or take the necessary steps to fix the situation.

The most common mistakes small business marketers make, in no particular order, include:

  1. Assuming you don’t need marketing
  2. Not having a marketing plan
  3. Not having a website
  4. Failing to track results
  5. Trying to reach the wrong audience
  6. Outsourcing marketing activities without understanding what you need
  7. Focusing on social media more than your website
  8. Setting an unrealistic budget
  9. Focusing on acquiring new customers only
  10. Copying whatever your competitors are doing


Assuming you don’t need marketing

Even if you have loads of people interested in your products or services and are drowning in work, you need to market your business. Don’t think that more marketing activities will overwhelm you even more. If you stop advertising, you will eventually run your company into the ground.

Take Coca-Cola or Apple as an example. Can you imagine them not marketing themselves? Marketing is how you keep your brand powerful. Also, marketing helps you weather slow periods. That is the only way to have a constant stream of new prospects, even when a slow season comes.


Not having a marketing plan

You must have a list of defined goals that your marketing efforts should achieve. Only when you know your objectives can you design a solid plan that can deliver those goals.

Without a plan, you won’t know if your campaigns are achieving anything. You risk losing fantastic opportunities if you fail to:

  • Define target audience
  • Assess marketing situation
  • Evaluate customer expectations
  • Conduct competitive analysis

These are just some of the steps to take, and they are the ones that will help you pinpoint why your campaigns aren’t working and what you can do to fix it.


Not having a website

In this day and age, it may seem ridiculous to have to say this, but - you need a website even if you are a local business. A vast majority of customers look for products or services online before they decide to purchase them. If they don’t find you online, you don’t exist. Prospective customers will just move on to the company they find online.


Failing to track results

If you have a marketing plan, you know your goals. You should also define how you will track the results of your campaigns. How will you know if your efforts are working if you don’t?

Tracking results helps you see where you are making mistakes, which will allow you to fix them. If you don’t track, you can’t learn anything. And as we know, mistakes are okay as long as you learn from them.


Trying to reach the wrong audience

The best marketing strategy won’t work if you don’t target the right audience. Sometimes, businesses focus on clients they want to have, completely ignoring the fact that these are not the clients they do have.

Pay close attention to who your business attracts. Those are the people you want to market your products or services to.


Outsourcing marketing activities without understanding what you need

It’s an all too familiar story. You know you need marketing, but you don’t have time to bother with it, so you hire someone to do it for you.

It’s a great start, but you have to take a bit more of a hands-on approach here. You need to learn about marketing to know what you want, what is realistic, what types of advertising there are, and what you could benefit from. It is imperative to learn about digital marketing because it can be essential for small businesses. You need to know why it’s crucial and how to leverage it correctly.

You don’t need to be a marketing expert. It’s sufficient to familiarize yourself enough so you know when you are talking to someone whether they know what they are doing.


Focusing on social media more than your website

Social media is great, but its purpose should be to drive traffic to your website. It is an excellent way to attract new prospects and engage with existing ones. However, it can’t replace your website, nor should you focus your activities on social media. These platforms should promote content on your website.


Setting an unrealistic budget

You need to know what you want and how much you can afford. For example, you can’t expect to get a polished eCommerce website, ad campaigns, email marketing campaigns, and updated branding for a few hundred dollars.

Evaluate your finances and decide how much you can spend on marketing, and consult with experts on what you can get for the budget. Even if it is one thing, it’s better to do it right than scatter your funds on multiple sides and get no results. Always think long-term. And as long as your ROI is higher than your investment, you’re golden.


Focusing on acquiring new customers only

Naturally, your goal is to make more people aware of your existence and attract new clients, but you can’t neglect the existing ones. Customer acquisition is, indeed, necessary. But, customer retention is the key to success.

Thus, continue to nurture your relationship with your existing customers. Reach out to them via email. Have a loyalty program and special promotions just for members. Work on improving customer satisfaction.


Copying whatever your competitors are doing

Copying whatever your competition is doing is just as bad as not monitoring what they are doing at all.

Why would customers pick you if you do the same as everyone else? You can’t stand out from the competition that way, and differentiating yourself is your goal.


Are you making any of these small business marketing mistakes?

Unfortunately, this is not a complete list of small business marketing mistakes you should steer clear of. For example, you shouldn’t forget to brag about success. On the other hand, you also shouldn’t talk about yourself all the time. Marketing is a constant balancing act, and it’s not easy. But it doesn’t have to be impossible. Know what you need to avoid and try to stay in the loop of the best practices; work with professionals, and you will be just fine.

Blog Home