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Small Business Marketing Blunders You Can Easily Avoid

Marketing blunders can cost a business thousands (if not millions) of dollars -- or they can sometimes be responsible for a minor setback; but one thing's for sure about marketing blunders: most of them are preventable. Here's eleven of some of the most common marketing blunders that are committed:

Marketing blunder #1: Using untested advertising messages or concepts on an expensive print, broadcast, or pay-per-click advertising campaign.

Marketing blunder #2: Trying to sell your products and services to everyone and their brother, rather than directing your marketing message to a targeted audience.

Marketing blunder #3: One of the most pervasive marketing blunders in the business world is being too passive. In ads, that translates into not having any 'calls to action'. In direct sales that means not asking for the sale.

If your sales letters, flyers, brochures, and ads are producing no results, the reason might be that they're boring, poorly layed out, or offer the prospect no solid reason to take action. Some sales letters and ads don't even tell the prospect specifically what they should do to respond to the offer, such as call, visit, log-in, or whatever.

Marketing blunder #4: Another common marketing blunder is not staying competitive. If your competition is doing TV advertising or newspaper advertising or coupon distribution, then you might want to seriously consider whether those forms of marketing would benefit your business. Whether it would realistically fit into your budget is, of course, another question which must be carefully weighed.

Marketing blunder #5: A marketing error which is rampant throughout the business community is attempting to create an effective ad, brochure, or web site by yourself. Unless you're an experienced copywriter and/or graphic designer, you're setting yourself up for failure by attempting a D-Y-I approach. The possibilities for committing a major marketing blunder are immense. In the vast majority of cases, you'll save yourself disappointment, wasted money, and lost opportunities by hiring a competent marketing professional for copywriting or graphic design.

Marketing blunder #6: An all-too-frequent marketing blunder that will condemn a small business to mediocrity or failure is not taking the time to develop what's called a 'unique selling proposition'. If you don't offer customers and prospects one or more distinctive reasons to choose your company over the competition, you can be sure they won't feel compelled to try your products and services. A USP is important to new startup businesses as well as established companies.

Marketing blunders #7: One of the biggest marketing mistakes businesses of all sizes make is to focus their marketing message on what a magnificent company they are, how many awards they've won, and how much they've grown over the past few years. While that's all well and good, and there's certainly a place and time to brag a little bit -- the reality of the situation is that customers are really only interested in one thing: "How is this product or service going to make my life better?" (What's in it for ME?) The reason they're considering your product or service is because they want you to solve a problem, make their life easier, improve their quality of living, make their lives more secure and safer, help bring more admiration or love into their experience, or increase their enjoyment of life. If you can help them imagine or visualize the benefits that may accompany the use of your product or service, then your powers of persuasion will have multiplied exponentially.

As sales and advertising pioneer Elmer Wheeler once said, "Sell the sizzle, NOT the steak". In other words, help your prospects imagine the enjoyment they'll experience or the benefits of your product or service that they'll receive, rather than just telling them about the dimensions, weight, color, size, functions, or other features.

Marketing blunders #8: The 'dot com bust' of a decade ago seems like ancient history, but those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it. One of the great marketing blunders of our generation, as illustrated by the series of dot-com failures at the turn of the millenium, was the practice of spending obscene amounts of money on advertising and unrestrained growth, despite that fact that it violated the principles of traditional business wisdom. Slow, steady, gradual growth is a strategy that has lifted many a small business to the top of the heap.

Marketing blunders #9: Ignoring the 'out of sight, out of mind' principle can be a fatal marketing blunder for small businesses. Being visible can mean anything from making sure that your web site can be found on the search engines (through SEO) to emailing a well written press release to the appropriate media to help keep your business name before the public.

Marketing blunders #10: Since loyal, repeat customers are one of the cornerstones of a profitable, growing business, then why do many business owners ignore or forget about their existing or past customers? In the rush to find new clients and to continually sign up new accounts, do you ever find yourself looking past the low-hanging fruit? Not asking for referrals from satisfied customers or developing a referral incentive program could be standing in the way of more sales, higher profits, and increased revenue.

Marketing blunder #11: The road to small business failure is paved with a negative attitude and a closed mind! Just because a marketing method didn't work in the past doesn't mean you can't pinpoint what went wrong and give it another try. Sometimes changing the headline of an ad or including a testimonial of a satisfied customer or hiring a professional copywriter to devise a more persuasive message can make the difference between success and failure. Before giving up on a marketing idea, ask yourself "What can we do differently to make this work?"

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