Russell Streeter

Top 5 Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Are Making Today

If you are making any of these mistakes, then you’re wasting time and money on ineffective marketing, and not getting the results you deserve.

1. A focus on tactics at the expense of strategy

There are two main components to any marketing plan:  strategic marketing and tactical marketing.  Strategic marketing is the content of your message.  It’s what you say and how you say it, including the concepts that you choose to focus on, the words and images you use to communicate those concepts, and the tone in which the message is delivered.

On the other hand, Tactical marketing has to do with the execution of that strategy, such as placing ads, building a website, attending trade shows and things like that. Yet the key to effective marketing is to master the strategic side – not the tactical.  

What you say in your marketing, and how you say it, are almost always more important than the marketing medium where you say it.  Both are important of course, but the real leverage is in the messaging itself – and that’s the strategic side of marketing. In fact, when a marketing campaign bombs, the tendency is almost always to blame the marketing medium like the TV or radio station, which is the tactical part of the plan, without any regard to how good or bad the strategy behind that marketing piece was.

2. Not creating a market-dominating position

A market-dominating position represents something you or your business provides to its prospects and customers that no one else in your industry provides – and that your prospects and customers want. It may be the dry cleaner that offers to pick up and then deliver your dry cleaning to your front door. Or it may be the doctor’s office that guarantees you will never wait more than 5 minutes from the time you arrive at their office for your appointment. All of these situations would provide each of these businesses with a market-dominating position.

The reason this is so important is simple.

Your market-dominating position must be the focus of your marketing message (see #1 above). If you don’t have a market-dominating position, your message will simply sound like everyone else in your industry, which is what you see today in most forms of marketing.

If you don’t have a market-dominating position, innovate your business and create one. Sit down and make a list of everything you do that’s unique or different than your competition.

Then honestly ask yourself – or better yet, ask your customers – if whatever you do that’s unique has any real relevance to them whatsoever. Is it a major reason why they do business with you?  If the answer is no, start looking for ways to innovate your business so you do provide something unique that will solve your prospects problems, fears, frustrations or concerns.

3. Using platitudes in marketing

Most small business owners rely heavily on platitudes in their marketing. They say things like, “We have the lowest prices”, or “the best service”, or “we’re family owned and operated”, etc. Look at your own marketing and check how many platitudes you use.

By the way, this is NOT your fault. Small business owners have been conditioned to think this is the proper way to market their businesses, since most advertising follows this same tired formula.

As human beings, we’re all after just one thing when we buy something… the best deal!  Unfortunately, when businesses use platitudes in theirr marketing, there’s absolutely no way to tell who is actually offering the best deal. Everyone says they have the lowest prices, the highest quality and the best rates. So who do you believe? There’s only one way to know, and that’s to research every single business that offers what you want to buy. How many of us have the time or patience to do that?

So most of us just automatically assume that everyone is pretty much the same and therefore we default to calling on the business that offers us the lowest price.  

When you can’t communicate the true value your business offers, you’re doomed to forever compete on price.

4. Only focussing on “Now Buyers”

At any given moment, the number of prospects who are ready to buy right now is a small proportion of all those who are ultimately going to buy what you sell. The vast majority are in the thinking-about-it and gathering-information mode.

There’s an educational process that the prospect goes through, from the moment they begin thinking about buying your product or service, to the point where they actually complete the purchase.

Most marketing only caters to those now-buyers who’ll be making a purchase decision in the very near future and does very little to educate those who are just thinking about it right now, but who might buy later. To do that, you must provide additional, educational information to the gathering-information-mode prospects and, in the process, capture valuable information about who these people are, so that you can proactively market to them on an ongoing basis.

This allows you to take total control of your target market.

5. Marketing copy doesn’t follow a proven equation

The vast majority of ads and marketing copy from small businesses miss out one or more of the components of the Marketing Equation.

Those four components are Interrupt, Engage, Educate and Offer.

For example, most of the time the Interrupt (your headline) is underwhelming and unlikely to stop prospects in their tracks. The section of the ad that should Engage prospects is full of platitudes (as mentioned above). There is little or no Educate, and the Offer is only relevant to “Now Buyers”.

For your marketing to be successful (and therefore worth investing money in) it must follow all four components.