33 Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Guest Post By Greg Boudonck

Let’s talk about marketing mistakes that small businesses make…

Marketing is the lifeblood of any, and all businesses.

One marketing mistake can cost a business a lot of money in the form of revenues.

While mistakes do happen occasionally, we must do our best to keep from making mistakes.

And if we do make a mistake, we must quickly remedy it and learn so that we do not make the same mistake again.

But many people live the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

In today’s post, I want to help you understand some of the primary marketing mistakes small businesses make.

Hopefully these can awaken you to any possible blunders you are about to make, or at least fix the mistakes you have already made.

Here are 33 marketing mistakes that small businesses make.

1: It Is All About Their Brand

This is a common mistake committed by many businesses, both large and small.

They only talk about themselves.

Great marketing focuses on not the brand, but on the customer and solutions to their problems.

2: Not Having A Website

In today’s world, your small business needs a website.

Put yourself in a customer’s position.

They see your name; your brand.

They do a search online, but no website appears.

Most people will say, “No website, how can I trust that they are legit?”

Websites are not expensive.

They are a good investment and if you search, you can find them quite reasonable.

3: Not Having Flexibility

You can have a superb marketing method, but when a customer contacts you asking for a slight adjustment, will you tell them it is your way or the highway?

You carry green, red, yellow and beige marbles, but the customer is requesting a white marble.

And they even state they will pay a premium price.

The flexible, and wise small business will go get some white paint and make some white marbles.

4: They Don’t Like Marketing

This is simple to paint a picture for you.

First, marketing is good for your small business.

Brussel sprouts are good for my health.

I don’t like brussel sprouts, so I don’t eat them and I am less healthy.

You don’t like marketing, so you either don’t do it, or you chew it until you vomit.

Your small business suffers and probably fails.

(Wow, I just painted such a good picture that I am going to start eating brussel sprouts.)

5: The Details

You don’t just set marketing on autopilot.

Like that jet pilot, he can set the aircraft on autopilot for a short time, but he must access the details before doing so, and after.

The details are important in marketing too.

6: Not Using Marketing Tools To Their Advantage

There are many marketing tools surrounding us.

Are we using the tools we have to our advantage?

Are we investing in new tools, or testing them to see if they will help us?

Tools are for our use and not to just sit in a corner and look pretty.

Work smart, not hard!

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7: Using Copyrighted Images

As a small business, you need to be extra careful in the images you use.

If they have copyrights, and you did not pay for the rights to use them, or follow proper procedures, you may be breaking the law.

You could be sued.

8: Not Testing

Here is another common mistake that small businesses make.

They come up with a marketing idea, but they do not test various ways to integrate that idea.

Wise businesses do A/B testing to find the best results until they discover what method works best.

9: They Are Not Mobile Friendly

Look around you!

Everywhere we go, there are people staring at their smartphones or tablets.

Maybe you do have your website, but is it appealing to the smartphones and tablets?

Do you have any applications that appeal to your mobile audience?

10: They Use Social Media Wrongmarketing

This can go right along with #1, always talking about themselves.

It can also fall into the “spam” category.

The best advice I can give is to put yourself in the customer’s social media eyeballs.

Would you like seeing what your business is putting on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest?

If not, then change it now!

11: Not “Spying” On The Competition

I am not saying to do anything illegal.

This is not a Watergate situation, but you do have every right to view how your competition is working in social media, on their website and other marketing forms.

You can learn a lot from the enemy.

Do what they are doing right better.

Don’t do what they are doing wrong.

12: Over Or Under Pricing

While this may not fall into “marketing mistakes” per say, the fact is, no matter how good your marketing is, if you are not pricing right, you are doomed.

13: Not “Knowing” The Customers

This is marketing 101.

We must know our customers.

We need to research and keep stats and even have lunch with them.

The better we know our customers, the better marketers we become.

14: Trying To Target Everyone

If we try to target every single person there is, we are fooling ourselves.

It is impossible.

I don’t recall who this quote came from (if you know, please leave a comment) but, “If you try to be all things to all people, you won’t be anything to anybody.”

15: Not Being Reachable

You need to have measures where customers can contact you.

Several if possible:

  • A phone

  • An address

  • A contact page

  • Chat

  • Skype

  • Etc…

16: Not Having A Call To Action Or Asking For The Sale

I really don’t think I need to add any to this.

If you are not “putting the pen” in the customers hand and showing them where to sign, they won’t just do it for you.

People have been told what to do their whole lives; they expect nothing less from you.

17: Outsourcing Their Marketing But Not Understanding Marketing

Okay, I see nothing wrong with outsourcing marketing if you believe that is cost effective, but if you have no clue about marketing, how will you know if the people you outsourced to are doing it right?

Before you decide to outsource your marketing, learn something about marketing.

Chuck has a plethora of information on this website, and there is plenty of marketing educational sources in other locations.

If you need help, just ask.

18: Not Living Up To The Promises They Made In Their Marketing

I must say that as of late, I find this to be a big problem with many large corporations.

Nothing can lose a customer, or customers quicker than making a marketing promise and then reneging on that promise.

19: No Follow Up

This is another area that may not fall into marketing, but not following up with customer service situations can negate any marketing efforts you are making.

20: Not Saying Thank You

It is amazing how powerful those two words are.

When you receive a sale, a simple thank you can be one of the best things you can do.

21: Marketing Huh?

Excuse me, but when I hear a small business owner say that they don’t do marketing, I laugh until I cry.

Do they actually believe their products or services will jump around and sell themselves?

Not marketing is the key to failure.

22: Not Using A Personal Touch

I have always found the best marketing has the owner or CEO showing his/her face.

People want to see the “real” person behind the business; not just the business.

23: Not Asking For Reviews

Potential customers often look for reviews.

If your small business doesn’t have reviews, many possible customers may move to your competition who does have reviews.

Also, reviews can help you implement changes to satisfy your customers better.

If you ask for reviews, they will give them.

24: Neglecting Current Or Past Customers

Here is another common marketing mistake made by small businesses.

We focus so much on gaining new customers that we lose touch with our current or past customers.

We need to always keep reaching out to them too.

25: Not Measuring

We need to focus on statistics that matter.

If your marketing method is doing well in Texas but not in New York, maybe you need to change the New York system.

Measure the statistics that matter.

26: Not Being Different

What makes you and your business unique?

Just because you sell a similar product as several others, you need to create a unique selling proposition.

Set yourself apart.

27: Reaching Out To The Wrong Target Market

This happens to many small businesses.

You need to determine who your target market is and reach out to them.

As an example, if your target market is men 50 and older, you would probably not advertise in a teenage magazine.

28: Not Having A Written Marketing Plan

Every failure can usually go back to one primary thing: no plan in place.

As is said often, failing to plan is planning to fail.

By putting it in writing, you can refer to it and follow the plan like a map.

29: Not Managing Marketing Time Correctly

This goes right along with #28.

You need to know how long you will spend on social media, your website and other marketing methods.

You also need to know when to step away and manage other priorities.

30: Not Budgeting Correctly

You have a certain amount you want to spend on marketing.

It is wise to not “dump” it on one method.

Budget correctly so you can get the most from your investment.

31: Not Giving Marketing Methods Enough Time

I see some small businesses running a Facebook ad for 2-3 days and expecting huge results.

They get small results and change their method.

It is better that you give methods ample time.

Yes, you must know when to stop, but give it a chance to work.

32: Spamming

First, it is illegal!

Spamming people will get you blacklisted and possibly in trouble with the law.

Just think about your marketing activity before you do it.

Would you feel it was spam if in the potential customer’s shoes?

33: Being Predictable

If your customers always know what you will post, will they actually read it?

We must go to all extents to keep from being boring.

Use humor or use debate.

Use them both.

Just don’t be predictable.

Final Thoughts

There you have 33 marketing mistakes made by small businesses.

Have you made any of these mistakes?

How did you mend it?

Do you know of other marketing mistakes?

Share your comments, questions and suggestions below.

Thank you.


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About the Author

Greg Boudonck is a freelance writer and the author of over 50 books. He writes on many different topics, but business subjects are one of his primary areas of writing expertise. You can see more about Greg and his work by visiting his website at Lancerlife.com.

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One thought on “33 Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Make

  1. chuckholmes

    I have made more marketing mistakes through the years than most. Thankfully, I learned from those mistakes. I think the biggest mistake entrepreneurs make when it comes to marketing is not doing enough with it. Most entrepreneurs are really not good at sales, at least not when they’re first getting started. However, your product is not your business. No product sells itself. Marketing your product is your real business. If you can learn how to generate leads and make the cash register ring, everything else will work out fine. If you can’t do that, there is a good chance you won’t be in business very long.


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