Top 7 Marketing Mistakes for Small Businesses

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marketing mistakes for small businesses

Effective marketing is the cornerstone of sustainable success for businesses. Established companies and larger startups have designated marketing professionals on their team to guide them in devising solutions and boosting sales. On the other hand, smaller businesses and startups, unaware of the importance it has, give little thought to marketing. This piece aims to highlight the most typical marketing mistakes for small businesses and startups. By avoiding these common blunders, you can circumvent potentially devastating consequences. If done right, marketing ensures sustainable growth and helps you gain a foothold in the business arena.

“Marketing’s job is never done. It’s about perpetual motion. We must continue to innovate every day.” – Beth Comstock, Former CMO & Vice Chair, GE


1- We Do Not Need Marketing!

Well, it is too much of a rookie mistake, yet it happens more than you would guess. Some people consider marketing unrelatable and nothing but a silly and made-up concept. They hold the notion that if a product is of high quality, the natural course of things happening is that people would buy it. Another misbelief is that marketing is just supplementary to other operations, reserved for larger companies… “Who has money for unnecessary stuff when the budget is this tight!?”

“The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time.” –Thomas Jefferson, third US president

These common marketing mistakes for small businesses do not consider that for people to make a purchase; they need to become aware of the product first and learn about its alleged high-quality.

“Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.” – Steuart Henderson Britt, consumer behavior specialist

More importantly, marketing is intertwined with design and management every step of the products’ development. Without proper marketing, the designed product/service would not be relevant to consumer needs.

Even if a business succeeds in developing and retailing a product without the proper marketing, one can be sure that this success would be a one time hit. The sustainability of the growth and survival of a company leans on effective marketing.

“Business has only two functions — marketing and innovation.” – Milan Kundera, Writer & Playwright


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2- I Like It, So It Is Good!

Marketing starts with identifying the needs and wants of the target audience and designing solutions to meet their needs and making their lives easier. We cannot possibly decide for everyone else and mangle the growth of a business to cater to our sense of self-importance. That is just a no!

Running a business is not about proving to others that you know better; it shows how good you know them. The requirements and features of a product/service are planned based on extensive research on consumer taste and behavior. Making personas, segmentation, and surveying focus groups are among the techniques for avoiding marketing mistakes for small businesses.

“Don’t push people to where you want to be; meet them where they are.” – Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP Marketing, HubSpot


3- Lets Just Rent 10 Billboards!

 Spending all the cash on expensive marketing material and promotional gifts are among the basic marketing mistakes for small businesses. Renting billboards to let everybody know that you have made it is not marketing; it shows off.

Showering your friends and family members with expensive watches and fountain pens rocking an engraved company logo might make you look cool, but would not promote your product/service.

Neglecting the suitable channels for your marketing endeavors is among the deadliest marketing mistakes for small businesses. If your target audience does not have the time for social media, then running an expensive social media campaign “just to look cool” would not affect your sales. Moreover, small businesses generally have a limited budget for marketing, so any big commitment should carefully be considered.

When considering marketing expenses, project the effect of your actions, take small steps, and measure the feedback. Understand the target audience and figure out the most suitable channels to get to them. Throwing away your marketing budget on a leap of faith is a marketing mistake you should avoid vigilantly.

“Just because you are the loudest, doesn’t make you right.” – Brian Halligan, CEO & Co-Founder, HubSpot


4- Marketing Comes In After We’re Done With Design And Manufacturing!

It is easy to misunderstand the exact role of marketing, and it is the most common among marketing mistakes for small businesses. Many people deem marketing to be equivalent to advertising or promoting, yet marketing is larger than all this. Marketing looks deep into people’s minds and identifies what their desires are. Marketing and design go hand in hand when a solution is being developed. Marketing validates ideas and perceives the business from others’ perspectives. Every step of the way, it is marketing research that assists designers in finetuning the product/service to consumer’s likings.

An irrelevant product is the result of a design devoid of any knowledge of the consumer. Promotions and advertisements could not possibly sell an unneeded product.

“Many companies have forgotten they sell to actual people. Humans care about the entire experience, not just the marketing or sales or service. To really win in the modern age, you must solve for humans.” – Dharmesh Shah, CTO & Co-Founder, HubSpot


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5- We Are Targeting Everyone!

Among the most typical marketing mistakes for small businesses, this one could be considered the most absurd. One of the first questions I ask business owners is about their target audience. In many instances, the response is a matter-of-fact “Everyone!”.

There might be a few products/services that could be sold to members of various genders, ages, and financial status. That said, I have heard industrial drill-bits manufacturers responding with that signature “Everyone!” and we could agree how absurd it is.

“Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like.” – Brian Chesky, Co-Founder & CEO, Airbnb

Even when the product has potential applications for everyone, that does not necessarily mean a single marketing approach could work for all of them. Marketing is the most accurate when the strategy is tailored to segments and personas. The more you can differentiate between different types of your customers, the better your plan would work.

“It’s hard to target a message to a generic 35-year-old middle-class working mother of two. It’s much easier to target a message to Jennifer, who has two children under four, works as a paralegal, and is always looking for quick but healthy dinners and ways to spend more time with her kids and less time on housework.” –Elizabeth Gardner, founder of garnish media


6- Who Needs Data?!

Businesses are confused by an overload of meaningless data. This data could be a blessing if utilized right. Today we have access to an excessive and unprecedented amount of data: Website visitors, existing customer base information, purchase data, transaction records, etc.

“The internet has turned what used to be a controlled, one-way message into a real-time dialogue with millions.” – Danielle Sacks, senior editor at Inc. magazine

Add research results, surveys, and statistical data to the mix, and you have the ingredients for successful marketing. To ignore this opportunity and lead marketing with guesses and hunches is one of the biggest marketing mistakes for small businesses.

“Smarter use of data will help marketers respond faster and better to business challenges” – Noah Elkin


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7- I Can Do It Myself!

If you also are a marketing professional, doing it yourself is only natural. Otherwise, you are on the brink of falling for one of the rookie marketing mistakes for small businesses.

Successful marketing requires multiple skills and extensive experience. Marketing professionals are creative individuals. This special kind of creativity has its roots in a knowledge of the people and industry, which results from years of education, training, and learning from mistakes. You can help your business by trying to educate yourself on basic marketing concepts, but it would be wishful thinking to consider this basic knowledge enough for your business’s success.

If you have made any of the mistakes we talked about today, do not be disappointed. Making mistakes is part of the process and happens for the best of us. When in doubt, ask a professional. Marketing people are easy to talk to and would help you avoid huge mistakes in a breeze.

“We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes — understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” – Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global

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ARDOXSO Weekly Blog currently has 5 members at its editorial board and publishes about 250 articles annually on ARDOXSO blog.

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