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Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Should Avoid

Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Should Avoid
By Joe Issid
Monster Contributing Writer

Even the most seasoned and successful marketer has an impressive resume of campaign failures. Heck, even some of the world's largest brands make gaffes that can cost millions. Marketing can be a fickle art at times and even those with seemingly endless budgets are not immune to the same concerns and troubles as those with more meager means. Having said that, the opposite can be equally true: given the current digital climate, many small businesses are able to directly compete with their larger counterparts and reach an ever-expanding audience. The playing field has been considerably leveled in recent years and to the advantage of small businesses. However, prosperous small businesses did not simply luck their way into success; they were able to craft successful marketing campaigns all the while avoiding making a few key mistakes.
 
Don't rely on anecdotal evidence
Over the years, I've seen too many businesses make decisions based entirely on subjective and anecdotal evidence. I can recall having unpleasant conversations with business owners and clients alike about making decisions based on the right metrics. The digital age has provided marketers with plenty of great tools to be able to predict and accurately measure campaigns and their associated results. The days of having to poll consumers by word of mouth are gone. Marketers have become incredibly sophisticated in how they are able to evaluate campaigns so there should be no reason to rely on the opinion of, say, your hairdresser on whether to pull the plug on a national ad campaign (yes, this really happened).
 
Reach the right audience
The ubiquity of social networks has made it much easier for companies to target their desired audience. Having said that, just because someone uses a product does not mean that they should automatically be targeted as part of a marketing campaign. For example, just because someone has feet does not mean that they should be targeted as part of your shoe sales campaign. This is a frequent mistake that many small businesses make: assuming that because someone uses a product means that they will want to interact with a brand or spend money on it. The cost of acquiring a customer online can be quite high, depending, of course, on the industry. However, trying to convert a disinterested consumer is virtually impossible and can spell doom for a marketing campaign. Fortunately, marketers have access to intelligence that can target a more appropriate potential customer. Rather than trying to target all people who have feet, a smarter campaign may try to target those who frequently buy shoes similar to those that you are looking to sell.
 
Don't cling to a single idea
It is perfectly normal to want to follow through on a well-constructed plan; this is an inherent human quality that exists in business. If the plan is sound, it should yield results. However, this is a mindset that many marketers have been forced to re-evaluate in recent years. Trust me, it can be quite sobering as you see the cost of a campaign tick upwards while the conversion rates take a plunge. Fortunately, current digital platforms have allowed us the ability to evaluate campaigns as they unfold in real time. However, our attitudes can sometimes take a little longer to evolve. I have often seen companies cling to an unsuccessful campaign as they are very fond of the idea or committed to a single approach. However, if the metrics do not support these views, it is important to re-evaluate before a budget is totally sunk. As a content provider, it was difficult for me to initially accept that some content performed better than other (often inferior) content. The reality is that you cannot predict what will happen and you need to be ready to pull the plug on a campaign if it is not returning the results you desire.
 
Don't be impatient
This may sound like a contradiction to the previous point, but you need to be realistic in your expectations. Rome wasn't built in a day and your business isn't likely to take off overnight, either. Exercising patience will be a tremendous virtue for you and your business. Thing is, as we are constantly witnessing content 'go viral', it may seem that the path to success can be easily achieved overnight through a single good idea and the power of social media. The reality couldn't be further from the truth. Relying on virality is a terrible idea and the overwhelming majority of businesses succeed without it. Patience, persistence and product will get you further than anything else.
 
Educate yourself
Not knowing anything about marketing yet investing in it is surely not the way forward. Rest assured, you don't need to be a marketing expert to understand the fundamentals of how to execute simple digital campaigns. Having said that, simply creating a Facebook page and a twitter account is not going to turn your company around. Even using these platforms regularly may not help your business at all. As always, the key is in the details.

You need to learn whether these platforms are even useful to your business and whether your customers use these platforms. You are much better served investing in some customer analysis than simply following the herd and posting to your Facebook pager every hour. Similarly, throwing money into, say, a Facebook campaign can be very dangerous if you do not have a clear goal and the resources to actively monitor your progress. Do yourself a favour and perform some preliminary research to determine the best way to move forward.