Small businesses make when it comes to marketing and branding

Below are the top 25 marketing and branding mistakes most small businesses make--with supporting statistical data from the SBA, SCORE, Investopedia, Statista and more.


Doing Their Own Design Work

Small business owners often make the mistake of trying to do all the marketing and branding themselves when they know very little, if anything, about the subjects. This results in sub-par branding with even worse marketing--thus, creating a very unprofessional view of your company to potential clients. If your logo was made in Microsoft Paint then you’re absolutely doing it wrong.


Hiring a Friend Who “Does Websites”

Small business owners often need to cut costs wherever possible. This tends to result in hiring “Jenny, who’s Tim’s friend” to do their website. Jenny happens to be a single mom with 3 kids, working a full-time job in a field completely unrelated to web design. She’s super cheap so you take the bait. 6 months later you have almost nothing to show for the almost nothing you paid. Coincidence? Don’t hire the Jenny’s of the world--they don’t know much more than you do.


Undervaluing the Work

If you are new to business then there’s a good chance you’ve yet to understand the true power and potential of proper branding and marketing. The SBA (Small Business Administration) suggest spending up to 20% of sales in your startup years1. In other words, if your company brings in $100,000 in a year, then you should be allocating around $20,000 (1/5th of your income) for making it look good and promoting it.


Considering Marketing an Expense

If you’re doing it right, branding and marketing is an investment not an expense. One which every company needs--big or small. In 2017, Coca-Cola Company spent $3.96 billion, nearly 9% of their total revenue for the fiscal year, on advertising.2,3


Hiring a Graphic or Web Designer First

Graphic and web designers are typically “yes (wo)men”--you issue an order and they fulfill it. This doesn’t help you unless you really know what you’re doing or happen to get extremely lucky. What you need first is a brand manager and consultant. Find one who will sit down with you and go over your business goals, history, current branding and more--then let them tell you what a good course of action is for your company.


Not having a Marketing Plan

Are you strategizing or just leaving things up to chance? Are you using tried-and-true methods or going with what you “feel like doing?” Building a business is more complicated than building a house--what would you think of the contractor building your home without detailed plans on how to do it? Exactly. So, if you haven’t laid out a plan of action then you’re in for a world of disaster.


They Aren’t Unique

If you’re unclear as to why your company is different from your competitors then your customers won’t know either, which means they’ll have no reason to go with you over anyone else. Make sure you’re 100% clear on which unique attributes make your company great.


No Target Market or Promoting to the Wrong One

Choose the right niche market and put everything you’ve got into promoting to them. If your target market is “everyone” then you’ve already lost. When we don’t choose a segment to appeal to we end up appealing to no one. Would you market to a child the same way you market to a septuagenarian? Of course not. Speak with a marketing consultant if you are unsure of where you should be focused.


No Word-of-Mouth

You need to make absolutely sure your company is offering a great products or service, and that your customer want to talk about it. This can generate a very dynamic client base, and help bring financial stability to your company. Whatever you do, do it well so Sally has something to write home about.


Not Valuing their Current Customers

It can be easy to write off your current customers and feel as if you don’t need to work hard for their affections anymore. This is a crucial mistake, and you should be performing regular activities to remind your customers of how great your relationship with them is. Send them a gift basket, wish them happy holidays, send out Thank You cards--do something to remind them how thankful you are to have them around.


Not Utilizing Social Media

This is now one of the, if not thee, most powerful way to reach an audience today. Your Marketing Plan should include a whole section on this subject, and your company should have at least 1 person in charge of making it happen.


No Online Presence

Aside from, and paramount to social media, you need a website. The SBA reports that nearly HALF (47%) of all Small Businesses do not have a website.4 SCORE reports as high as 49%.5 This is appalling considering how necessary and easy it can be to create even just a simple site for your company. While a correctly branded and marketed website is a much larger task, you should at least begin with the basics and get a foundation going--this will allow you to engage with your customers in a very necessary and functional way.


Being Closed to New Forms of Marketing

If what you’re doing right now isn’t working, or isn’t working well, then you need to try something new--but not just “anything.” It’s important to find the right things for your company, and that may involve some out-of-the-box thinking, a professional or an education on the subject.


Ignoring Your Competitors

Many small business owners simply put their heads down and bulldoze through the year without checking in on what their competition is doing. This makes them susceptible to pitfalls and traps they could otherwise avoid. It’s always a good idea to do a regular SWOT analysis on the companies you work against. Furthermore, look into the marketing your competition is doing. Ask yourself what is and isn’t working for them.


They Don’t Know their Metrics

If your company spends money on advertising, then it needs to know if that advertising is creating a return. Are you getting clicks for your online ads? Are people calling because of a billboard they saw? How often? Does your email campaign have A/B testing? Which is doing better short-term and which is better long-term? You need to diligently track and understand your marketing metrics in order to be able to effectively tweak and capitalize on opportunities.


Zero Knowledge of Branding and Marketing

If you don’t know the first thing about Branding and Marketing, then you probably won’t be able to set realistic expectations. If you think getting a great, well-branded and marketed eCommerce site up in a week is a reasonable time-frame, then you may end up firing the competent and honest contractor who tells you it’s going to take at least a few months. Further, you may fall for the “yes (wo)man” who tells you “that’s no problem--I’ll have it up in 4 days!” Not being able to tell who’s worth your money is another core issue with being uneducated on these subjects. You don’t need to know everything, and you’re not expected to, though you will need to know enough to make informed and intelligible decisions.


Giving up on Marketing

One prevalent unrealistic expectation is overnight success from marketing endeavors. Great marketing results take time--months or even years. Set up for the long haul and plan for a business-long adventure.


Putting all your Eggs in One Basket

You thought it would be great to spend all your money on 1 marketing strategy, and it didn’t work. Now what? Spread out and try different tactics, segments and more. Marketing can be done effectively, more often than not, by a trained professional with good experience. However, as with life, there are no “sure things” in marketing.


Not having a Funnel

Every business needs a way to capture and capitalize on leads, so the flow of clientele can build and grow the business. A sales funnel will do this, and should be included in your marketing plan.


Annoying their Customers

Too many pop-ups, wrong placement, too many emails, wrong messaging, wordy endeavors, and many of things can turn your potential customers off. What’s worse, it could destroy your current client base--something that could topple your budding business.


Ignoring Mobile Users

125 MM U.S. consumers own smartphones and +60% of them will buy something online every 6 months.6 If your online sites and services aren’t mobile-friendly then you might as well throw money out the window.


Not using Video

Not using Video--the production cost has plummeted and the availability and options have skyrocketed. Where both text and video are available on the same web page, 69% of users would prefer to watch video to learn about a product or service.7 Further, viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it on video, compared to only 10% when reading it in a text.8


Single-Sided Content Creation

There’s a good chance your user following is many times larger than your company size. Engaging with these customers and encouraging their interaction through user-generated posts, blogs, tags, pictures and more can help skyrocket your popularity. Try not to do all the work from one side--let your loyal fans help you build.


Poor Spelling, Diction and Grammar

It may sound obvious to some and inconsequential to others, though the fact remains you will lost customers if you don’t check your copy thoroughly. 59% of adults said that bad grammar and spelling errors would stop them buying from a website.9


Selling based on Price

Your products and services should be value-based and so your marketing efforts should be geared towards building that value. What problem does this product solve? How can this service be useful? If you did not value the potential safety a deadbolt brings, you would not pay for it.

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