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3 Mistakes Small Businesses Make When Marketing

Marketing in business, especially for a small business, can arguably be considered the most important key to success. You could offer the best product or service, or even have the most experienced executives that could turn your small business into a multi-million dollar company, but if you don’t employ some sort of marketing strategy, your business will be nothing more than a good idea. If you are an entrepreneur, or a simple small business owner, the following suggestions will help you develop a successful marketing campaign, or at least avoid an ineffective one.

small business marketing

# 1. Improper Focus

The essence of good marketing is the communication of a persuasive message to the desired demographic. In a general sense this mistake is easy to avoid; you will probably never see a beer commercial aired on the Disney channel or Nickelodeon for example. If you are trying to market a small business then you should intensify your focus by identifying a niche. If you narrow your target market you will be able to offer a more compelling or persuasive message.

# 2. Not sending the right message

A common mistake made by marketing departments is that they do a great job of getting the name of their company out there but they don’t send a message that will translate into increased company performance. The best example of this that I can think of are the Allstate “Mayhem” commercials. You have probably seen them. The commercial shows a man in a suit (Mayhem) and he explains that he is some kind of potential accident waiting to happen. One of my favorites shows him on top of a roof and he explains that he is a loose satellite antenna and then he falls off and damages a garage and a car. After the accident happens Mayhem dusts himself off and explains that with Allstate Insurance, instances of mayhem like that will be covered.

The commercials are very funny and very popular but from a marketing standpoint studies show that they are also complete failures. The problem lies in the fact that the nature of the does not match the product. The insurance you own is not a laughing matter and so the most effective insurance commercials are informative and reassuring (think of those annoying ‘Flo’ commercials by Progressive).

# 3. Failure to do your homework

A fair amount of research should fuel your marketing ideas. Your small business marketing strategies should focus on who your target market is, how you can reach them and the most effective way to do it. The most effective advertising is communicated in a memorable way but at the heart of it contains a very compelling argument. Any marketing strategy, especially small business marketing strategies, must be centered on a USP, or unique selling proposition.  Also, utilize services like who are call center solutions including areas such as virtual receptionists and order taking services.

A USP is what makes your business or product different. The lack of a USP is what made the “Mayhem” commercials discussed in mistake #2 such failures. Do market research to understand what your potential clients want or need and then don’t forget about it as you come up with creative and memorable ways of packaging the message. A perfect example of advertising that nailed its USP is the Apple ad campaign for the launch of the iPod in 2001. It was very simple. All it showed were colorful outlines of people dancing to music then the word ipod appeared followed by the message “think differently.”

This message is so effective because it is a product designed to entertain through music and at the time there was really nothing like it on the market. They recognized that and so did not waste time selling on price or usefulness. They showed what it was and showed that it was fun and entertaining. The iPod sold like mad.

What mistakes have you seen small businesses make when marketing?

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Images:  ”Presentation of marketing strategy /

Rob Boirun is a tech blogger by heart and also a consultant to large and small businesses with their SEO and SEM projects and offline advertising in the form of Advertising Flags. I am also heading up a new startup over at where we are offering cloud storage and online backup services.

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  • Speaking of Apple iPod Rob, I am very impressed with the way they used the white ear buds to market their product even further – using the customer 🙂

    Beats a free calendar or pen any day! Anyway, great tips there and I take on your point about niche – we can too often want to capture everyone, all the time – perhaps we can create niches within bigger niches to suit a season or time of year.

    Btw – welcome from me to TYB!

  • Great points Rob, first with business owners doing their research, and second having a strategy for their marketing system. As a busy business owner it’s easy to get caught up in what I call tactical marketing which tends to be influenced by people selling advertising. With research, positioning of products/services, and a plan in place, the business owner can purchase the ads they need (or not) knowing it’s just a piece to the larger structure that will generate the leads they seek.

  • Marketing is most crucial factor of any business. If it is going wrong than your business never into profit.

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