Brand or Die!

A Small Business Survival Guide

My list of the Top 8 Marketing Mistakes that small businesses make (5-8)

  • Posted: 7:34 AM
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  • Author: Mikal J. Caldwell


Common Mistake: Underestimating your need to market your product or service.

You have a product or service that you believe in passionately. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be involved with it or working so hard at it. The problem is, you assume that all you have to do is turn on your open sign and everyone will automatically see how great it is and beat a path to your door. Wrong. There are at least 5 other people just like you offering the same thing, maybe even at a lower price. You have to effectively communicate to your potential customers why they should come to you and not go anywhere else. That’s why you need to take the time to focus on effective marketing.

Recovery Plan: Start from scratch. Assume nobody knows who you are or what you do, but they already know everything else about your competition. How do you tell them about you? What makes you different from everyone else out there? Don’t assume anything about the knowledge base of your audience and assume that you will have to educate them completely. That’s the best way to gain perspective on why you need effective marketing communications and lead you down the best path to develop those communication tools.


Common Mistake: Focusing solely on acquisition of new customers and not including retention in your marketing efforts.

You have a bright, shiny new marketing campaign planned. You’ve developed a great brand promise and set up your marketing mix effectively. You know that at the end of this process you will have “X” amount of new customers. You launch everything and it seems to be going well. Until you look at your numbers and realize that your growth is flat. What happened? Growth is more than the acquisition of new business. It is the retention of existing business that forms the basis for growth. If you gain 1 customer a week, but lose two, then you can do the math.

Recovery Plan: As you’re planning your marketing strategy, be sure to include marketing and communication to existing customers as well. These customers are vital to your success and you’re already starting from a position of strength with them because they’ve already bought into your product or service. All you have to do is keep them believing in what you’re offering them. Customer Appreciation Days, discounts for long-time customers, or anything else you can think of that maintains your existing base’s belief


Common Mistake: Creating marketing language that only tells everyone how great you are.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. You’re the best at this. You’re great at the other. Come and see how wonderful we are. If a person talked like that all the time we would call them self-centered. Now take a look at the language you use in your marketing materials. Is your marketing too self-centered? Customers don’t really care how great you are. They just want to know what’s in it for them. Ultimately, your marketing should always answer that question. Focus on the customer, not yourself.

Recovery Plan: Do an audit of your marketing materials. Start with your tag line or your brand message. Does it focus on you, or your prospect? If it’s too self-centered, change it! Develop positioning statements that focus on the benefit you offer to the customer. Do the same with all of your external marketing pieces.


Common Mistake: Playing Lone Ranger with your marketing, whether by choice or out of financial necessity.

I hear organizations all the time complain about the results they get from their marketing efforts and the money they spent on it. I always ask who was responsible for the marketing and the answer is usually someone who already has a million other things to do. Marketing is a process that requires time, attention, and patience. Sometimes it also requires using someone else’s time, attention, and patience so that you can focus on other things. That’s where consultants like me are a great asset. Whether you use me or someone else, the investment you make will pay off in dividends immediately. Not to mention having someone with the advanced specialized knowledge you need to get the most for the money you’re spending on marketing.

Recovery Plan: Call me! (LOL)

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