May 27, 2024

The biggest marketing mistakes to avoid as a small business

No matter what industry you’re in, marketing is essential for boosting brand awareness, increasing your market share and driving your business forward.

Usually, successful marketing involves playing the long game and testing different options to see which delivers the best results. This way, you can identify which method works best and know you are spending your limited marketing money optimally.

However, with research by Promixa indicating that up to 60% of marketing budgets are wasted, businesses might feel that the “trial and error” approach is too expensive.

Avoiding common blunders can be the difference between a thriving business and significant marketing spend going down the tube.
So, here are the biggest marketing mistakes for small businesses to avoid to minimise wasted budget and get more out of their campaigns.

Not having a clear plan

In most areas of business, success hinges on having a solid plan, and marketing is no exception. Yet, according to, as many as half of UK businesses are making the mistake of not having a marketing plan.

Some business owners don’t think they have time to make a plan, while others don’t know where to start and some are even convinced they don’t need one.

The truth is, the effectiveness of your marketing activities has a direct impact on your bottom line and, if you’re jumping into action straight away without a plan of attack, your results are likely to be ineffective and disappointing.

If you’ve ever felt like you’re trying loads of marketing ideas on an ad-hoc basis and not really knowing what is and isn’t working, you likely don’t have a plan. Putting one in place will provide you with a clear roadmap to help your business stay on track and measure your campaigns’ success.

Failing to understand your target audience

Knowing your audience inside out is key to marketing success. It means going beyond surface level data and basic demographics but, unfortunately, many are relying too heavily on technology and automation to do this work for them.

If you truly want to see positive results from your campaigns, you need to be willing to invest the time and effort to understand your audience on a deeper level. This means digging deep to learn about their likes, dislikes, interests, values, and pain points.

Without a thorough understanding of your audience, you’re essentially taking a Spray and Pray approach – you may get lucky and see some results, but you’ll never achieve the kind of sustained success that comes from truly connecting with your audience.

Therefore, do your homework, create detailed personas and value maps, work out what your customers really care about and how you deliver to that, and properly get to know your audience. The rewards will be well worth it.

Ignoring your analytics

One of the most common marketing mistakes you can make is ignoring your data [or not using it to the fullest]. Many business owners fall foul to this either because they don’t know how to use their analytics or because they don’t have the time to analyse the data.

Analytics are there for a reason – they are crucial to understanding the success [or failure] of your marketing efforts.

Make sure you’re regularly analysing your website and campaign analytics. Tools like Google Analytics can provide valuable insights into your website’s traffic, user behaviour, and conversion rates, and this data can be used to make informed decisions about your marketing strategy moving forwards.

Reviewing your campaigns over time will help you create more targeted, personalised campaigns that deliver better results.

Only evaluating your ideas internally

You can’t fix your marketing mistakes if you don’t know what they are but, as someone on the inside of your business, your understanding of how to convey your offering is biased by how close you are to it, making it almost impossible to see your marketing through fresh eyes.

Simply relying on evaluating your own ideas, or getting the opinion of someone else internally, is an easy mistake to make but comes with many risks.

Most of the input available to you from your team will be biased. If the person whose opinion you are seeking works alongside you in your business, they are also living in the same bubble, and this bias limits their ability to truly and effectively understand how your market will receive your messaging.

In contrast, an outside, non-biased perspective can challenge your thinking, help improve your critical analysis and give your more confidence in your decision.

It can be tough to find a regular source of feedback that is well informed but sufficiently objective. Ideally, you’d test with your customers, but that can be hard to do for many firms. A great option, therefore, is to speak to other experienced businesspeople with practical marketing experience from outside your company and ask them for their genuine objective opinion on your ideas.

Falling behind on industry trends

The marketing landscape is fast-paced and constantly evolving, and many business owners fail to adapt to these changes.
Whether it’s a new social media platform, an algorithm update, or a change in consumer behaviour, new marketing techniques and industry shifts are emerging all the time, and if a business isn’t closely tuned into the most recent developments, it can be easy to fall behind.

In today’s always-connected world, customers are inundated with messaging across multiple platforms every day. To stand out from the competition, you need to be aware of the latest trends at all times and have the ability to adapt to the changing landscape.
But watch out. Don’t chase execution ideas before you have your plan in place. One of your questions about your target market will be “what is the best way to reach them?”

Final thoughts

Marketing is easy to get wrong. While a few minor oversights are to be expected, the ramifications of marketing mistakes for a small business can be significant and can mean damaging your brand’s reputation, losing business, and wasting often already limited funds and resources.
By recognising the most common marketing mistakes and how to avoid them, you can increase the success of your campaigns and achieve maximum ROI.

Roger Jackson – founder and CEO of SenseCheck

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