An amazing, unique idea that came to you in a dream, your cousin Pete’s guestimate on the price of some of the necessary supplies (based on those his friend bought abroad, four years ago) and a glowing endorsement from Auntie Mabel’s neighbour who ran a butchers thirty years ago and thinks your cloud-based app sounds like ‘a work of genius’. This new business of yours will practically market itself! What could possibly go wrong?

Quite a lot, unfortunately – particularly if you’re really that naive! Luckily for you, we’ve pointed out six marketing mistakes you would be wise to avoid.Small business marketing

Presuming You Got There First

You might be right. You may have genuinely come up with something so amazing and unique that bank managers, grantees and crowd funding groups will be falling over themselves to invest in it, swiftly trampled underfoot by crowds of clamouring customers. Or, on proper investigation, you may discover that there are other people out there who have had the same idea – or something so similar that yours loses any semblance of true uniqueness.

So if you’re planning to hitch up your success wagon to the horse of one-off-wonder, you’d best do your research first – and ensure your horse isn’t a twin.

Presuming All Potential Customers Will Become Paying Customers

Just because people are local to your business and/or interested in similar products and services to those you’re offering doesn’t mean they will automatically become customers.


Firstly, because it’s a bit like trying to pick a present for a massive Friends fan; yes, they’ve loved Friends for decades, so it’s natural to presume they’d love a Friends-themed present. But because they’ve loved Friends for decades, you can also presume they already own the DVDs, the t-shirt, the board game, the fridge magnet…etc.

Similarly, people already interested in your product or service area may already have everything they need, or be able to get it more conveniently or cheaply elsewhere. They may already have a supplier they trust or go to out of habit.

Secondly, perhaps they’re interested but unable to afford what you’re offering, particularly if the economy is struggling and your goods or services are more luxuries than necessities.
To win over competitors’ customers and draw in those reluctant to part with their cash, you have to offer something special – and market it to them strategically.

Inadequate Research

Thorough market research is crucial. Your target audience – where are they, what else are they interested in, how old are they, what are their professions, how much disposable income do they have? Your competitors (what they offer, how they offer it, where they offer it and for how much). Without detailed information on all these factors, you can’t hope to put a focussed and efficient marketing plan together.

Failure to Fit the Advertising to the Audience

Generic marketing will get you nowhere. Fit your marketing to the audience and the platform. There’s no harm in having adverts that have a very different approach, providing a strong brand image ties them together.

The advert with which you target newly qualified professionals under 25 should be very different from the one you’ll use to draw in the wealthy early retirees who spend half their time on cruise ships.

Being Lured Into Long-Term Lock-Ins

However much research you do, you will still need to be flexible and learn by trial and error – but you will lose this flexibility, and possibly a lot of money too, if you lock yourself into a long-term advertising deal.

Until you know what works for your business and what doesn’t, beware committing yourself to long-term advertising campaigns – even if the discounts offered are tempting.

Failure to Get Feedback – And Act on It

Of course, you will only know what’s working for you if you make the effort to find out. Without asking your customers or clients how they became aware of your business and/or what lured them to your door, how will you know which aspects of your advertising are proving effective?

You won’t.

So take every opportunity, whether it’s on the internet, printed forms, via email, over the phone or face to face, to ask customers where they heard about you. Once you’ve gathered that information (properly; do NOT just scrawl down people’s answers on the back of envelopes!) you can assess the effectiveness of each advertising method by considering its hit rate alongside its potential reach and cost.

Whether Auntie Mabel’s ex-butcher friend is right or not, without a proper marketing plan, your idea and your business will never see success. Keeping our six points in mind should help you give that flash of genius the chance it deserves!