How would you feel if I said you’re doing something right now that could potentially cost you your business?
Your business is your baby.
From day 1, you’ve been there to nurture it, watch it grow and put in long hours of hard work to ensure that it becomes a success.
Because you wanted a better life for you and your family, and these skills are the only way you know how to do that.
Where would you be without it?
Well, I’m sure you don’t even want to imagine that.
However, there are mistakes that all small businesses make – unfortunately, some of them could be fatal.
I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s better to know what those grave marketing errors are before they land you in a situation that’s impossible to get out of.
That’s why, as a digital marketer who specialises in helping small business reach their goals and gain success, I’m going to tell you how to identify those mistakes, and expand on what you should be doing instead.
The rest? Well, that’s up to you.
1. Not having a strategy
Maybe you dived headfirst into the deep end to market your business, because you thought your passion would shine through.
But just like anything, you need a strategy if you’re going to get anywhere and be able to repeat that success (unless you want to depend on sheer luck – and trust me, you don’t).
There are plenty of ways you can put together a strategy.
For instance, there are tons of blog posts and advice online (if you’re prepared to do your research).
Or, you could take the time to speak to a digital marketing agency or two (or three).
They should be happy to give you some free, impartial advice.
The best place to start with your strategy? Outlining the goals you want to achieve.
Then, working out how you’re going to get from A, to B, to C.
Oh, and this next part is absolutely essential to any good strategy,
so listen up…
2. Guessing your audience
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; your audience (AKA your customers) is everything.
In fact, that statement is so important that I’m going to go ahead and ask you to read it again.
Your audience is everything.
If you don’t know who they are and what they care about (and only think you know), how are you going to get them to care about what you have to sell?
Maybe you’ve already got an idea of who your customers are – but for new businesses, it can take a bit of work before you really get to know them.
Either way, it’s always a good idea to keep working on your customer personas.
Watch this short video below that explains how to create an empathy map, a fantastic way to understand your customers.
A big shout out to André “the email king” Chaperon for finding the video.
Instead of asking just who they are, their age, or their job role, you need to understand their story.
By story, I mean the story they tell themselves that’s related to your product or service; the journey they’ve been through.
Because they’re stuck.
And you need to change that story for them in a way that’ll make their lives better.
When you can, speak to them. Listen to what they have to say.
Build up a profile, and make it as detailed as possible so you can become someone they know, like and trust.
A lot of times when I speak to clients, we come up with content ideas by thinking about the questions their customers ask.
They’ll often get stuck and say they don’t know.
Sometimes, it’s just a matter of reframing the way they’re thinking, but a lot of the time they don’t know their customer.
This is a huge red flag for me, and the reason I’ve introduced a different strategy to help understand their customer personas.
Still, even if you think you know, they’ll still surprise you every day.
That’s why I’d never stop there.
This is something you should never actually close the book on – in fact, I actively encourage people to constantly build up a more detailed picture of their ideal customers, and what makes them tick.
This means you can really hit the mark when it comes to getting noticed by the right people – for the right reasons.
3. Consistent content misfires
This stems from my second point.
If you don’t know who your best customers are, anything you put out there in the way of marketing is going to be hit-and-miss – and more often a miss than a hit.
This could apply to absolutely anything – from coming up with compelling Google Ads and writing a blog, to social media.
Plus whatever you choose to display on your home page.
At the start, you will misfire with some of your content; it’s inevitable.
So, don’t panic.
But one of the biggest errors you can make is writing content that YOU think is interesting.
Because what you care about isn’t necessarily the same as what your customers are going to care about.
Instead, (and sorry for repeating myself), take the time to hear what your customers are saying.
What concerns have they expressed to you?
What are their biggest challenges?
And how about the questions they ask you time and time again?
That last one’s really important – because those are most likely the questions they’re going to be typing into Google.
Taking the time to answer those questions in a helpful and thorough way – say via a blog – will help them find you a lot more easily.
One of my clients is a heating engineer, and had a lot of people contacting him about particular models of Worcester Bosch boilers.
They were obviously doing their research, and understanding what these models were.
Another way to find what people are searching for is using Google’s keyword tool, in AdWords.
It’ll show you what people are searching for.
As an example, we were able to look up the traffic on different Worcester Bosch boilers, and ending up writing a lot of content around that – like reviews for specific models.
Just remember to make it all about them – not you, or your products or services.
4. Giving up too soon
If you’re looking to get the most out of your marketing, I understand it can be frustrating when you’re not seeing the results you so badly need.
But some things can take time.
This picture below is an image that my wife used to text me when I felt like giving up.
It’s really effective.
For instance, if you’re trying your hand at content marketing, you may not know it takes time until you start to see a promising outcome – months, in fact.
But it’s so worth it (trust me).
Maybe you’re constantly switching your social media tactics, or changing agencies because you’re not getting what you need from your SEO or Google Ads.
But the truth is, this can lead to very inconsistent and segmented messages for your audience.
If you’re too busy to take care of your business’s marketing yourself, choosing the right agency can be vital.
I’ve put together a blog post that might be able to help you find someone you’re comfortable with and can trust.
I know that link is mainly about Edinburgh agencies, but really it could apply to anywhere.
5. Blaming marketing for a bad product
This is, unfortunately, another classic. When you don’t know your customers, or your target market, and you just assume that everyone’s going to love your product or service…
You might be in for a terrible shock.
But do you know where businesses with this issue tend to stick the blame?
Why, marketing, of course!
I know this is hard to hear, but sometimes you’re just selling the wrong product.
Nobody wants to be told they’ve wasted time and money for something no-one wants.
That’s why it’s always important to go to the people who might want it and ask them
what do they think?
What is it the one thing that could make your product or service better?
Will they want it then?
One last thing…
When it comes to marketing, it can be a minefield out there.
I know it can be tough, and feel like a constant uphill struggle – and it can be frustrating, or even scary, when your business is your life.
You depend on it to support your family and create the life you want for them – am I right?
But please, don’t worry too much.
Despite the title of this blog post, it actually takes a lot for you to accidentally kill your business.
Getting the right advice/plan now can make all the difference when it finally comes to seeing the results you need from your marketing efforts.
The best advice I can give you is to speak to a digital marketing agency, and tell them about the problems you’re having.
They should be happy to listen, and provide you with some free, impartial advice.
Or, if possible, learn how you can be doing some of the marketing for your business yourself.
I know you’re busy, but understanding how to manage your own PPC for instance, can save you a good chunk of money.
But only if you learn how to do it properly.
I had someone come to me the other day who just jumped into the deep end, and spent £1,800 on Google Ads.
Did it win him any business? Sadly, no.
As a result, he was in quite a predicament – especially after receiving an £800 bill from his web developer.
He was devastated, and beside himself with worry.
So, if you decide you do need some outside help (most successful business owners do), then trust your gut.
Try asking these vital questions when choosing an agency.
These are the biggest fatal errors that you really can’t afford to be making with your small business.
But don’t worry – they don’t have to be fatal, and there’s still time to make changes.
Follow my advice above, and you won’t go far wrong.
It’s true that marketing your business can feel like a full-time job in itself – but there are plenty of options.
Including hiring someone to take some of the weight off.
However, I’m not just one to write a blog and run – if you have any specific questions about any of the points above, I encourage you to leave me a comment below – or get in touch with me directly.
I’m here to help! Wishing you all the best with your small business marketing!