Marketing is an important element of your small business strategy. If you’re looking to expand your customer base, increase revenue, or grow brand awareness, a savvy marketing strategy is a must.
Marketing for marketing’s sake, however, won’t always show positive results. These 5 mistakes commonly made by small businesses can actually sabotage your goals, rather than support them. But don’t fret—there are simple solutions for turning these mishaps into wins.

1. Talking About Yourself

Your company just had its three year anniversary and you even won an award! Your customers care, right? Not always. A crucial misunderstanding of small businesses is believing that you and your customers value the same things. What can you do for a customer that no one else can? To successfully market your small business, don’t sell the customer your product (or service); sell them your solution.

Market research, even basic, is very helpful. Consider crafting a simple survey with SurveyMonkey, or polling a small focus group. (Online crowdsourcing can be an inexpensive replacement for focus groups.) These basic research methods can give you new insight, and help you shape your marketing message to focus less on you and more on the consumer.

2. Forgetting Your Current Customers

You’ve put all your company’s resources into advertising and even jumped on the Groupon bandwagon. Are you spending so much time focusing on attracting new customers, you’re forgetting about your current ones?

It’s common for small businesses to think they must grow through growing their customer base, but you can target current customers, too. There are many different ways to stay in touch with current customers after the sale. Email is one method that is inexpensive and can yield high success rates, but be sure to follow a detailed guide to small business email marketing. Your email should have certain elements, such as relevant and useful content, to be successful.

3. Social Media Abuse

Social media marketing can be an inexpensive, effective marketing solution and is a must-have for most small businesses. However, starting a Facebook page and sending a few tweets isn’t enough. Social media marketing is a complex marketing tool, and if used the wrong way can actually harm, rather than help, your small business.

What you need is a social media strategy. First, understand how to use social media effectively, and then, create a social media marketing plan. Use your marketing research to understand where your customers are online and create a brand presence there. Only communicate relevant, helpful information to your followers; never spam or you’ll quickly lose friends.

4. No Call to Action

When a potential customer sees your ad or comes to your website, what do you want them to do? Subscribe to a newsletter? Sign up for a promotion? Without a call to action, your customers won’t know what to do with the information you’ve given them, and if they move on, you’ve lost your opportunity.
Using a call to action button on your website is one simple strategy. These are coded buttons that drive a webpage visitor to “click here” to sign up for a newsletter, or whatever your intention is. If you don’t take the initiative to help your customer find you, they likely won’t find you at all.

5. Not Measuring What Matters

No matter how small your business, or how much room you have to grow, you should always be measuring success. This is how you evaluate performance and also gives the company marketing goals to works towards. There are simple, inexpensive strategies for small businesses to track marketing return on investment. Leveraging a few different techniques is necessary to understand how your marketing efforts are paying off. You want to be sure you have a good idea of what marketing strategies are more effective than others, and how they all tie into the bigger business goal. Even if you aren’t interested in the numbers, your CEO surely is!

Even as a small business, you can still have a creative, inexpensive marketing strategy. Avoid common marketing mistakes, make smart decisions, and your small business can have a successful marketing strategy, too.

Want to be a social media marketing champion? Here's a related article for you: The 5 Golden Rules of Social Media Marketing

Featured photo credit: BUDAPEST - AUGUST 10. via Shutterstock

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