21 common Marketing Mistakes Small Business Owners Make
"Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large".
1- Thinking advertising is marketing:
The biggest mistake most of the business owners make is to think advertising and spending money is the only marketing way exist. This group only focuses on advertising, which when the desire result is not achieved at the end of the month, they complain of how much money they wasted away. Advertisement is merely one of many ways of marketing.
2- You don't enjoy what you do:
As stated above Marketing has many ways and approaches. The main marketing for your business is to love what you do. Nothing is better than your "Love what you do" attitude since it brings out your creativity, shows your talent and tells everyone how devoted you are to your business. Your daily positive attitude defines the successful future of your business. The love of your business construe in your daily interaction with new clients, employee's moral and making important and effective marketing decisions. To be a good marketer for your business, first rule is your love for what you do.
3- Don't have a good business plan:
What is business plan?
"A written document describing the nature of the business, the sales and marketing strategy, and the financial background, and containing a projected profit and loss statement".
Having a business plan is like having a map. Many businesses start their business ignoring this very effective tool and get lost in the middle of the road. Every business plan states the exact details of the business's concept and outlines clearly the marketing strategies, profit and loss, demographic, place of business, finances and targeted niche market. In order to make a solid business plan:
A) Know your business inside and out
Knowledge of your business is important to know the answer to all the categories of business plan. If you do not know the concept of your product or service, business plan and the pillar of your business does not exist.
B) Study, analyze and scrutinize
When you know the back and forth of every detail in your business, you can access all the required information needed to project your business in a business plan. In order to access all this information you need to study, analyze and scrutinize every file and information in libraries, city records and valid informative site on the Internet.
C) Print it and have it accessible
When you put all the info together and created your fully detailed business plan, print a copy and keep a file handy and accessible.
Your projected analysis for the business works as a map to your success. Don't drive to an unknown destination, not having a map on hand.
4- Don't have any plans:
Marketing and developing its strategy is vital for every business. Marketing works as fertilizer to boost the lawn of your business. Even more importantly, marketing acts like sun to shed light and direction to your business for finding leads for the potential clients. Marketing is like having your open sign on in the dark street. I think I emphasized enough and you understood how important marketing is for any business, small or large.
5- Not analyzing the market for correct pricing.
Every business offers products or services. Then producing and providing the products and services involves certain cost and fees. Setting the price according to the market is very important and cause for a major failure for small businesses if done without market awareness. The root and source to find a perfect price is your business plan. It is necessary for every small business owner to investigate:
A) The demographic income of the targeted niche and audience:
The business plan states the average income of the targeted audience and the niche market. Set prices based on the factual statistic and spending ability of potential clients.
B) Market needs and economy balance:
An involved business owner is always aware of the market needs and the economy balance. Based on your niche market, be on top of the factors of change in economy that can impact your client's ability to spend. If you deal with bankers and investors, keep up with stock market news and its daily changes and adjust your prices regularly.
C) Competitive market prices:
A business person is always on a lookout for its competitors and is aware of their side of story. It is necessary to know your competitors and adjust your prices based on their offering and similar services.
D) Demand of the product or service:
Investigate the demand before putting the price tag on your product and service. You can find this information through the data in your business plan. Balance your prices based on the market demands;
If you projecting a good volume of sale, price it lower than competitors.
If the demand is lower and the project of volume is slow, price higher to accommodate the distance between each sale.
E) Uniqueness of the product or service:
A unique product and service in the market attracts more attention. Price it higher than other regular products.
F) Acceptable profit margin range in the area:
Profit margin's acceptability is always decided based on the market and economy as well as the market demand for the product.
Consider a big city. If you have a product or service that is unique, but projecting a high volume of demand, based on the economy and your targeted niche, the profit margin should set higher than normal.
In a small community, If you are investing on a product with limited demand, go conservative on your profit margin.
6- Not having any budget
Many small business owners make a big mistake and do not place any budget for daily, monthly or yearly marketing plans. Whatever the profit and loss data projects on your business, it must include certain amount of budget for marketing plans that are realistic and traceable. Unfortunately small business owners mostly have no budget and deduct the cost of marketing plans from their profit data. This particular budget assignment is very effective in the future of business growth. Increase the marketing budget with business slowly reaching the peak of demands for your product and services.
7- Spending money on non-traceable ads
As the market changes, so as the marketing plan, pricing and target audience. Invest and assign marketing plans that are traceable. Traceable marketing means follow-up charts to analyze data.
The worst mistake of marketing is to spend money on a plan that cannot be traced and measured. This marketing mistake is wasting money or in other terms is shooting in the dark.
8- Do not trace the result
Many businesses have assigned a budget for the traceable marketing plan but sadly do not follow-up on the result and do not trace it. This is just the same as spending wasteful money on non-traceable.
9- Think in a closed box:
Each business is unique. Even if the business offers a same product as other business few streets down the road, the two are still unique and different in many ways. The biggest mistake small business owners make is to follow other businesses' footsteps. Marketing and its strategies should not have any limitation. Think of marketing out side of the box and do not limit the marketing strategies to a cliché approach others do. Be creative and design a plan unique and suitable for the very business.
10- Don't know what plans to set:
Everyone is familiar with the word marketing. The first conversation when opening a new enterprise is "Lets do marketing!" But do we all really realize the core meaning of it?
I compare marketing strategies and its unique approach to our fingerprints, which is distinctive. Many understand the word marketing but are not familiar with how to set the strategy and the game planning related to the business.
It is a big mistake not knowing how to set the strategies while being fully aware of marketing important role in the business. Since setting the marketing plan requires research, analysis and knowledge of he market, hire a professional researcher and marketer to create the necessary game plan.
11- Assuming the product or service will sell itself:
One of the biggest marketing mistakes is to assume your product or service is going to sell itself. This assumption is misleadingly translating marketing into advertisement. I have met many small business owners who declared that quote-to-quote "I don't spend money on the marketing, to me I only rely on word of mouth".
Word Of Mouth is the strongest way of marketing. So what this small business owner was under impression that he does not do any marketing because he thought marketing was spending money on advertisement. So he was counting on the most effective marketing, the word of mouth. Word of mouth consists of two factors:
A) Product or service:
People have to like the product or service to continue talk about it and refer their friends.
B) Customer service
Another major difference between businesses is the level of customer service. I didn't say the level of good or bad. What I mean is each business owner or employee that has been fully trained to look after a client as a customer service has his or her own charm. This specific charisma and character make the business unique to others and is a major influence for word of mouth.
Let me give you an example of how powerful the word of mouth and spreading the word is to any business. While ago, I worked as a junior manager in an up-scale restaurant. The general manager identified his target niche as young professionals in downtown area. So he hand-picked few employees in the same age range as the targeted niche to use public transportation and talk about the restaurant among each other. His decision, although was not directly traceable, but yet had an amazing effect. How did I analyse the result and witness the proof?
The restaurant offered comment cards, asking "How you hear about us?" and many without any surprise responded via word of mouth in public transportation.
Even if the business owner is avoiding any advertisement cost, they still rely on spread of word about their service and product via the community and the word of mouth marketing.
12- Don't know the target audience:
To plan and set a marketing strategy, any small business has to have a direct target niche as an audience. Analyze everything about the niche audience. The list certainly is not limited to the audience's income, age, interest ratio to the product, sex, education, commitment ratio and their loyalty.
13- Don't know the competition:
The best way to analyze the market is to get familiar with the competition and rivals. It might sound cliché but as the Godfather movie suggested, "Keep you enemy close". Or if I may rephrase " Keep your competition close and be aware of their moves".
This is especially important for small business owners in small community to have a good relationship with other competition. To share my experience in the same restaurant I used to manage, the general manager always encouraged me to go to other local restaurants and dine. He even offered to pay the bill. All I had to do was to analyze everything from the greeting, staff knowledge, manager's presence, client's relation and the overall quality. My report helped him to understand his competition strengths and weaknesses.
14- Hiring wrong person to do marketing:
Many small business owners out of desperation and lack of networking, hire wrong people to do their marketing. As we said earlier, every business has unique offering and services so must focus on unique planning for its marketing strategies.
It is the small business owner's responsibility to hire a professional firm who can relate to the business's need and offerings.
A good reputable marketing firm whose focus is to promote books and authors in not a good fit for a small local bistro.
15- Underestimate the value of existing clients:
A good businessperson always knows the value of the existing clients;
The best way of follow-up with the existing clients is to create informative data about them. Many small business owners lack this very important source of information. To avoid this mistake, keep a record of every client's information. If the information requires certain personal data, keep it in a safe and secure place.
A client whom already has experienced your product and service knows about the quality of it. Always do follow-up calls and do not be afraid to ask how they liked the product or service. Even if the client responses back with dissatisfaction is a perfect opportunity for the business owner to fix the problem.
Gain a new customer is costly. I am gong to explain this by an example:
"Nancy enters Joe's café because of a coupon she found in a local magazine offering 10% discount. She solely relies on a menu attraction, prices, quality of the food and customer service. Joe the owner spent lots of money and time for marketing after analyzing the community needs, price affordability and the targeted niche market.
Joe has three ways to collect emails or phone calls for follow back:
A) placing a note pad in front of the cashier's desk asking new clients to write email or contact info for special promos.
B) Placing a glass bowl by the cashier's desk offering the weekly draw of free lunch from dropped business cards.
C) Offering comment cards and asking for contact info.
Joe has three ways to accumulate client's information and follow-up with them. So everyday he goes through all the information and creates a secure data.
Nancy finds the place charming and the food great but not a good customer service. It is Joe's responsibility to follow-up and gain back Nancy's business once again to avoid spending all the money and time all over to attract another new client."
Existing clients are the perfect way to promote every business. Send special offering, communicate with them and even ask them to share your business with their friends. Respect the boundary between proper communication and spamming.
16- Not offering giveaways and novelty items:
One of the most effective ways to attract clients is to giveaway your product or service for free.
A) Test run: Offer a monthly test run of your product and service and giveaway a free sampler. People love to get samplers. It gives them information about your business and its quality.
B) Propose monthly contest: Proffer a monthly contest and giveaway prizes based on participating in your business. People love contest and it excites them to know they can win something. If it didn't work, Lottery and Casinos didn't exist.
C) Give out novelties like mugs, pen, key chain, notepad, calculator, shirts and hats with the business information printed on it.
As a business owner recognizing correct niche market target is necessary for further marketing planning and budget assignment.
To explain this better lets picture a shoe store that carries high-end fashion shoes for women. The first thing that comes into the mind, high-end fashion niche is only younger generation and teenagers. A good business owner will explore the possibilities to analyze further more into the data from business plan to understand the local community needs.
If selling high-end, then its higher quality and higher prices. A teenager on a student living budget cannot be a direct and only target niche. So the correct niche is a professional and higher income spender who is more interested in quality without considering the price tag.
This example clears how a business owner distinguishes the certain target audience by analyzing the local market data from business plan. With enough knowledge in market research, the business owner avoids wasting the marketing budget on a wrong niche.
18-Not participating in community:
"Every big things has small beginning"
Regardless of the geographical target of any business, whether global or corner store in a small village, it all begins with local community.
Who are the first people you would share news with in your everyday life? Family and friends are the strongest link to marketing and spreading the word. It starts from friends and family and spreads to their friends and family and before you know it, is a snowball effect and cumulative.
The local community is the test run before spending a time and money on a dead-end marketing plan.
19- Do not own an informative and representative website:
Internet plays a great deal of connection in people's life everyday. Many customers use the Internet to search and review local businesses. No matter what kind of business, it requires an informative and user-friendly website. A good business website is a gateway that welcomes customers to enter and experience the business offering.
Many small business owners making mistake and assume their line of business does not need a website. With daily development of technology, people get more connected via Internet and do their shopping online. Search engines get stronger everyday by developing codes and programs to bring up the exact and precise inquiry.
20- Do not appreciate the value of the Internet:
With a vastly growing competition on the Internet and the increase in demand for business development, simply having a website that offer information is not enough. Popular search engines are only producing websites in their search result, which have better ranking. Many small business owners simply making a big mistake by avoiding the presence on the Internet and ignore the growing highway to success. Every business must have an informative website and optimizes the business on search engines, social media and popular relevant forums. This subject of Internet marketing and its highly effective marketing plans is a lot of subject to cover in this article.
21- Expecting too much in short time:
Do not expect too much in a short time. There is always cause and effect but it requires proper time period to produce best effect. A seed needs time to open the surface and grow to a strong tree. But it requires water and good fertilization. Marketing is the water and fertilization to the business. It takes time for a good marketing plan to spread the roots and make a strong holding ground.
"Rome was not built in a day"
It took generations and much hard work of skilled engineers, planning and proper budgeting to build the mega city of Rome.
Can you hold a roof without building the pillars and the walls?
Marketing is the pillar of the business. Without marketing and planning, business lacks a foundation.
Many business owners place the marketing and development in their last page when the business opens its door to the public. Marketing starts when the business idea takes shape. It begins before the business is even called a business. Avoid making marketing mistake and start your marketing with knowledge and strategy.
Marketing is the heart of every business and keeps the health of the company in balance. But treat the heart right. Eating healthy, exercise and lack of stress are keeping the heart healthy to beat the life into our body. Practicing and implementing the right marketing strategies keep the business in shape. Don't make mistake if you had a good run. Many small business owners get too excited for this temporary beat of recognition and look at it as everlasting. To keep a good balance in business, marketing and planning should match the flow of the business. Increase your strategies as your business grows and increases.
Marketing is the pillar of every business and is the only foundation to go further, faster. Imagine a boat with no engine crossing the Atlantic. The marketing to a business resembles the engine to a boat. The planning and strategy of the marketing to the business is the safety gear of the boat that keeps it balance and not to tip over.