Marketing your business is one of the most exciting parts of business ownership. What makes it so exciting is that there isn't one cut-and-dried 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 business. And the best part is you can tailor your marketing 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 seven common small business marketing mistakes you should try to avoid.
1. 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.
2. Being Unclear on 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Being Scared of Social Media
Social media has exploded in recent years and has quickly become one of the most affordable and effective marketing techniques for small business owners who can focus their efforts and maximize their time spent on social media to yield big results. The trick to using social media to promote your small business is two fold: first you need to select the right network, and second, you need to be clear about what your goals are.
6. Refusing to Try New Marketing Activities
Most small business owners are over-scheduled, often juggling multiple priorities at the same time. This is why routines are good for us; routines help us manage our time and be as productive as possible. But routines can also make us complacent, especially when it comes to marketing. Marketing is ever-changing and the only way to consistently promote your business effectively is to stay in tune with the changes and remain open to trying new marketing activities.
7. 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 (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) Analysis for your business to uncover some new marketing opportunities.
Excerpted from an article by Aliyssa Gregory for About.com