Marketing your small business is one of the most exciting parts of business ownership. What makes it so exciting is that there isn't just one way to promote a business. In fact, when you consider all of the possible combinations of marketing activities, there are thousands of ways to get the word out about your small business. And the best part is you can tailor your marketing activities to what works best for your business.
1. Not Having a Marketing Plan—Trying to promote your business without a marketing plan is like shopping for a red shirt with a blindfold over your eyes. You may get lucky and end up with the end result you want, but chances are you will waste a lot of time and money in the process. You need a marketing plan; every business does. So make sure you start there first.
2. Being Unclear About What Makes Your Business Different—Your business is not exactly like any other business out there. If it were, you probably wouldn't have started the business in the first place. In order to market your business effectively, you need to identify what sets you apart from the competition.
3. Trying to Sell to Everyone—One very common mistake of new small business owners is considering everyone to be a potential customer. While it may be true that you sell a product or service that appeals to a broad audience, you need to narrow down your target to a recognizable group so you can use messaging and marketing approaches that reach them directly.
4. Underestimating the Power of Word of Mouth Marketing—The beauty of word of mouth marketing is that it is free and it happens naturally. If you provide an excellent product or service, then your customers are thrilled, and they tell their family, friends and colleagues about it.
5. Being Scared of Social Media—Social media has exploded in recent years and has quickly become a popular technique for small business owners to execute, in addition to traditional media.
6. Refusing to Try New Marketing Activities—Most small business owners are over-scheduled, often juggling multiple priorities at the same time. This is why routines are good for us; routines help us manage our time and be as productive as possible. But routines can also make us complacent, especially when it comes to marketing.
7. Ignoring the Competition—While you want to make sure you are differentiating yourself from the competition, there is a lot you can learn by scoping out your biggest competitors. To start, you can conduct a Google search and check out what your competitors are doing on social media. Once you have some research on-hand, conduct a SWOT analysis for each major competitor and then your own business to uncover some new marketing opportunities.
Now that you know what to avoid as you get started marketing your small business, it's time to focus on what you should be doing. Remember, just like all things in business, you have to start with a plan!