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Top 10 Marketing Mistakes Made by SMBs

Obstacles are par for the course in marketing your SMB but finding (and iterating) a system that works for you is critical to beat your competition and grow sustainably.
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Marketing is a central ingredient in the success formula for any type of business. It’s also an ever-evolving process and your first try won’t always be the most successful. 

As Albert Einstein once said, “anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”  Obstacles are par for the course in marketing your SMB but finding (and iterating) a system that works for you is critical to beat your competition and grow sustainably.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common marketing mistakes SMBs tend to face. The more aware you are of what can go wrong, the more likely you will be to avoid these pitfalls and achieve long-term marketing (and business) success. Let’s get started.

1. Your website is outdated…or doesn’t exist

This might sound obvious to some but even in today’s digital-first environment, nearly half of all small businesses in the United States still do not have a website. They lose out on vital awareness generation opportunities, from search engine optimization to localized digital marketing.

At the same time, simply having a website to check a box is not enough either. We see too many clients with outdated websites that date back ten years or more, including difficult navigation or outdated information. An outdated website that doesn’t speak to your current audience’s needs will reduce credibility, making your customers less likely to buy from you.

2. You don’t track your marketing initiatives

From SEO and social media, to more traditional, print-first, and word-of-mouth opportunities, modern marketing entails a complex web of tactics. Businesses who don’t know which of these tactics work for their audience risk investing in the wrong strategies, resulting in limited returns. 

Instead, create your marketing strategy with key performance indicators for each tactic in mind. Track which of your efforts produce ROI and which fall short, always noting the source of new leads and highest conversions. You will be able to allocate your budget more efficiently, improving over time to optimize your marketing strategy and execution.

3. You have a blind spot in your market

No marketing initiative exists in isolation. Your target audience consumes everything in context with your direct and indirect competition. A lack of knowledge about what others in your industry are doing means missing an opportunity to see what’s working, what isn’t, and how your own unique messaging can differentiate.

To fix this blind spot, find at least three other businesses in your space that are performing well and keep up with their marketing and product initiatives. Pay special attention to which recurring tactics they implement that continuously lead to engagement. 

4. Your targeting needs tweaking

If you’re speaking to everyone, you’re speaking to no one.

Rather than casting a wide net, successful organizations target their messages at specific audiences that match their ideal customer profile.

Trying to sell to everyone, on the other hand, leads to generic messaging. Your pitch won’t be convincing; your pain points will fall flat.  Instead, narrow down your target audience to a recognizable and repeatable group so that your messaging and marketing tactics can reach them reliably.

Successful SMBs ensure this process by building their ideal customer profiles and buyer personas. With these profiles in hand, each piece of content, promotion, and marketing effort can be more highly targeted to a relevant audience.

5. You haven’t differentiated your offering

In an age where potential customers see thousands of marketing messages every day, standing out from the noise is vital. Fail to differentiate your business within the marketplace and your audience will miss you entirely.

Your SMB should be able to clearly explain a simple, legitimate reason why prospects should turn to you instead of your competition. Identify what sets you apart, create a value proposition, and hammer home that message in all of your marketing efforts.

6. Your entire budget goes to one channel

Especially for startups and small businesses with limited marketing budgets, diversification is key. Spend your money on a single, untested initiative and you might lose all hopes of ROI for the quarter.

To minimize risk and to unearth future optimization possibilities, a more comprehensive multi-channel marketing strategy can produce more reliable results. Rather than risking it all in a sink-or-swim approach, you ensure that at least some of your efforts are successful, allowing you to optimize your spend over time.

7. You aren’t strategic with your marketing spend

Every business needs to invest in marketing. That’s because marketing is not a cost but an investment that’s vital to driving customer acquisition and retention. Without it, your buyers have no way of finding you or your solution.

At the same time, it’s not enough to simply pump money into your marketing. You need to be strategic, developing a comprehensive understanding of your target audience and how to reach them effectively. Sufficient investment and strategic spend go hand-in-hand for a successful marketing effort.

8. You shy away from social media

Yes, social media can be intimidating. After all, it might be the most crowded marketing channel out there and it’s not without its fair share of controversies.

However, advertising on social media is not just among your most affordable options on a per-click basis, it’s also incredibly effective when done correctly. If you can select and leverage the right channel for your audience, you have the opportunity to build brand awareness, foster engagement, and generate new leads.

9. You stick with what you know

It’s easy and tempting to stick with what you know when it comes to marketing your SMB. But the only constant in the marketing world is change.

Even if you’re not a full-time marketer, you need to test new tactics on a regular basis. In fact, the only way to promote your business effectively is to be in tune with changes in both your industry and your audience preferences, consistently iterating strategies to gauge their performance against tried-and-true methods. Over time, your strategy will optimize and continuing to attract your audience at a higher rate.

10. You keep everything in-house

For many small business owners, you’re used to doing the work yourself. From prospecting and selling to administration and development, you like to have your hand in every part of the organization. But this can only go on for so long before you burn out, processes start to break, and tasks start slipping through the cracks.

As mentioned above, marketing is an evolving challenge constantly being faced with new obstacles. Because of its complexity, marketing is ripe for outsourcing among SMBs who don’t have the bandwidth to manage it themselves or the budget to hire full-time staff. Outsourcing can be an extremely cost-effective solution while also producing better results than doing it in-house. In fact, many vendors will partner with you and act as an extended arm of your business. 

It’s natural to make mistakes as you grow your business and understanding potential risks can go help you to plan around them. A solid foundation starts with a comprehensive marketing strategy designed to consistently and sustainably grow your business. If you’d like to learn more about scaling your business with a steady flow of qualified leads, click here

The Growth Guidebook for SMBs

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About The Author

About Sapper Consulting

Sapper's sales prospecting team becomes a natural extension of your existing sales efforts, helping you find new leads that are a great fit for your business.

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