Two major marketing mistakes small business make


Sajjad Tameez

There is something magical and prestigious about owning your own business. If you are a skilled tradesman or anyone who happens to be marginally good at your job, there is no doubt that at some point you stopped and thought:

“Hang on a minute! I am so damn good at this job! And the pompous management is idiotic. I don’t need them – they need me! I know what I’ll do; I will work for myself!”

And there is nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. Unless, of course, you have no blooming idea on how to run a business. Undeniably, your superbly good at your job, that is exactly why they hired you. Business managers don’t usually have the skills you have in the trade – that’s why they employ brilliant people like you! But what they do have is excellent business and marketing skills, which is crucial for running a successful business.

There is an enormous difference between a one-man band painter and decorator and a business with numerous skilled employees, admin, customer support, partners, supplier contacts, marketing teams and money!

Going Rogue

If you decide to go rogue, you might find that you become a freelancer, sole trader. And this is OK. But people who do this without any business management, marketing skills and experience often find themselves far worse off than when they were employed. They end up working ridiculous hours with very little to show for it.

Lack of business knowledge & experience

Without knowledge or experince in how to run a business, you are most likely going to fail. There are, however, business consultants who can help you get your processes in place to succeed.

Lack of marketing & advertising experience

Without the right marketing skills any business would struggle. Marketing and advertising are essential to raising awareness of your products or services. No marketing, no customers.

Major Marketing Mistake Number One

The obvious answer to this would be to make a business and marketing plan, because not planning is planning to fail, blah blah blah. But this article isn’t like the gazillion other articles online. You already know you need a marketing plan – that’s obvious, and I don’t want to patronise you. Nor is this some inspirational mumbo jumbo, telling you to follow your dreams and fluffy mystical babble like that. Instead, I want to help you with what real tangible strategy should be in your marketing plan.

It will be impossible for me to cover everything to make your business a complete success in this article. So I have carefully selected two of the most important things you need to know to get going.

Let’s get started.

You think mimicking huge brands in marketing is a good idea. You see big brands like Apple and Nike do wonderful abstract things and you think – if this is working for them, then it should work for me. And as logical as this sounds, it’s probably the worst thing you can do for your business.

Big, established brands market and advertised for various convoluted reasons. After the bureaucracy, this is mainly mass marketing and brand awareness. They already have a successful, recognised brand. They no longer need to sell you their products – they just need to remind you that they are there. You already know what they sell. And you are likely to buy from them because they have spent millions on advertising and brand awareness. You already know and trust them.

You need to understand that you are a small business, most likely with a small marketing and advertising budget. Spending your budget on mass marketing for a small business is suicide.

Most of your budget will go fast and go nowhere.

So, what’s the solution?

Good question. If you’re not going to copy big brands, what are you going to do?

The best method for marketing a small business is to narrow your marketing strategy. Hurling random marketing without targeting, is expensive and ineffective. Instead, you need to think more about the people you are selling to. Be specific with your audience and with the service in your ad. Not a range of services but a single, money making, glorious service!

For example, if you are a taxi company and keep mass marketing, you will be competing with hundreds of other taxi companies that are doing the same thing. Your ads (virtually money) will be getting lost in the noisy world of manic marketing.

You need to consider targeting a specific customer. Think about who this would be. It might be a niche customer that many other companies haven’t pinpointed.

Here is an example of a basic ad:

“In a hurry to catch a flight and need help with your luggage? We specialise in airport travel and luggage support.”

Someone will be looking at that and think – that’s me! They are talking to me.

If this customer must choose between clicking a random taxi ad or the one they believe is specifically for them, it’s pretty obvious which one they will select.

In a nutshell, specialise and target your ads, include the appropriate value proposition for the best results.

Major Marketing Mistake Number two

Doing it yourself is usually like not doing it all.

So many small businesses think they can do everything themselves. They’ll carry out the work, manage the business, deal with customers, invoices, accounts and of course the sales, advertising and marketing. I mean, how hard can it be?

Impossible to do it properly! Is the answer to that.

Marketing is not something that should be rushed and needs to be well thought out and well-executed. Ads need to be relevant, striking, welcoming and encourage people to learn more or convert into leads. There must be an alluring, irresistible, and simple call to action.

You need a marketing budget and then you need to use that budget wisely. Throwing out poorly created ads with poor visual and sales copy is the perfect way to fail.

You may have heard the cliché “Content is King”. Let us define this differently for you:

Content that Connects with Customers

Marketing is done well when it is done by people who specialise, are familiar and savvy with proven, reliable advertising techniques.

In summary, the two major marketing mistakes to avoid are imitating huge, established brands with millions in marketing budgets and not narrowing/targeting your marketing efforts. Couple this blunder with trying to do it all yourself and you are well on your way to disappointment.

Think more about the marketing strategy, plan on targeting people most likely to buy your products and services and use your budget to get someone that knows what they’re doing. Simple.

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