Lessons learned marketing small business

6 Marketing Mistakes To Avoid in 2018

Another year has passed and us business owners are getting ready to tackle the 2018 with focus, strategy, and enthusiasm.  Hopefully at least.  I've been fortunate enough to work with many great businesses last year and met many others and am always picking up new ideas and inspiration from just about everyone I meet.

While I see a lot of successes from businesses owners, I still see the same marketing mistakes being made over and over again.  Most small businesses are never able to really figure out marketing and to get to a place where their marketing & advertising strategy is firing on all cylinders.

I wanted to give a rundown of the most common marketing mistakes that I see that is keeping many business owners from seeing marketing success.

Can't Convey Value

People will only be interested in what you have to offer if they perceive that it has value to them.  The keyword here is, “perceived”.  It doesn't matter what value you have to offer, it only matters if people think it is valuable to them.  Marketing is all about perception, which is why a local McDonalds can outsell the best independent burger joint in your town.

Over the course of the year, I have had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of business owners, all who profess that they have something really valuable to offer.  The thing is, most of them have no idea of how to show that value to prospective customers.  I'm sure you have lots of value to offer people, your job is to figure out how to convey that value to others.  If you've never seen this great TED talk on advertising, watch it now.  After reading this article of course.

Not Knowing Your Customer

Many small businesses run marketing and advertising campaigns year after year and still don't have a grasp on who their customer really is.  If you don't know specifically who your ideal customer is then you do not know what will motivate them to become your customer.  So you are left with generic marketing messages that speak and appeal to no one.

Marketing today is all about specific messaging for specific segments of your audience.  Online marketing makes this really easy to do and track and can save you a ton of marketing dollars as well.  Your job is to figure out your different customer segments and create messaging and marketing campaigns specific to each one.  Sounds like a lot of work, but it's pretty easy to do when using online advertising platforms like Facebook Ads and Google Adwords.

Missing Marketing Funnel

Most business owners have no idea what an online marketing funnel is much less have one in place.  It is also why their online marketing efforts usually fail. They just hope a visitor will find their contact page and contact them for no specific reason.  When you create an online ad, where will they go?  What will you say to them when they get there?  What will you do with the 98% of people who go there and still won't call or fill out a contact form?  How will you follow up and nurture the people who do contact you but aren't ready to buy yet?  All of these questions must be asked and answered in order for you to create an online marketing funnel.

There are many steps in the online conversion process, your job is to understand the customer journey and lead them through each step while keeping as many of them as possible along the way so they become customers.  You do this by building a marketing funnel.

If you want to take my free course on building your own marketing funnel, click here.

No Tracking & Improvement

You can only improve your marketing if you track and measure what you are doing.  This is the only way you will know what is working and what isn't.  It still amazes me how many small business owners still use their “gut” when it comes to measuring marketing success.  I can tell you as a fact, their “gut” is wrong 90% of the time as soon as we start tracking real metrics.

Between Google Analytics and the metrics provided by every online advertising platform, there is no excuse not to track and measure your marketing efforts.  Even if you are missing the online marketing boat and still doing only print advertising, at least add promo codes you can track.  If you don't enjoy wasting lots of money, start figuring out how you will track your marketing dollars before you start spending it.

Living in a Bubble

Most businesses follow the best practices of their industry, which is great.  But look outside your industry for marketing inspiration if you really want to pull ahead of your competitors.  Most businesses go to their industry conferences, work with niche specific marketing firms and end up getting a big dose of what everyone else is already doing.  Some of my biggest marketing jumps and successes came from taking what one industry was doing and applying it to another.

For one client, we started blogging for their foundation repair company…..8 years ago, when all of their big competitors didn't even know what blogging was.  Today, they enjoy traffic 10x more than most of their competitors because we built up such a large knowledge base on their website while their competitors were simply paying through the nose for advertising.  Diamond candles took an ancient industry, candle making, introduced jewelry, and transformed an industry.  Look to see what ideas you can take and apply to your industry.

Still Doing Keyword Based SEO

Stop paying SEO companies to rank a specific keyword for you, SEO doesn't work like that anymore, it hasn't for a few years now.  SEO has become very integrated with other aspects of marketing and the search engines have become smarter about the meaning of a website and the intent of someone searching online, so they are relying less and less on specific keywords in order to rank content.

Think more in terms of themes, create an overall theme for your website that makes it easy for the search engines to understand what your website is all about.  Become an authority online in your industry by creating themed content that is inter-related to each other.  By doing this, the search engines will have a clear picture of what your website is about and you can start building authority and rankings for your industry topics.

Get 2018 started right

Before you spend your time or money on marketing, take some time to plan and prepare properly, it will pay off with smarter marketing, better results, and more customers for your business in 2018.

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CEO at 3Bug Media
Gary Shouldis is the founder of 3Bug Media, a web marketing company that helps businesses create 360 Marketing Strategies to dominate their market. His blog is read by over 20 thousand small business owners a month and has been featured in the N.Y. Times Small Business, Business Insider and Yahoo Small Business.