Six Fatal Marketing Mistakes

Are you making any of these six fatal marketing mistakes? Each of them is a prescription for business failure.

#1. Not budgeting for marketing. Many misguided business owners view marketing as an optional, not essential item in their budget. However, it does not matter how stellar your product or service, it’s not going to sell itself. You need marketing.

#2. Reducing your marketing (or eliminating it entirely) when times get tough. When your business is struggling, the last thing you should do is cut way back on your marketing (unless you are over-spending in that area) or eliminate it entirely. You need marketing now more than ever!! However, be sure that you make every marketing dollar count by evaluating how you are spending your money now; how effective those activities have been; and what you can do better or differently.

#3. Being unrealistic about how much to spend on marketing. Spending too little on marketing is almost as bad as spending nothing. If you are in start up mode and don’t know how much your marketing budget should be, talk to several marketing professionals to find out what it will cost you to begin and implement at least a basic marketing program and exactly what it will include. If you find out that you don’t have sufficient funds to support even a basic program, seriously consider whether you ought to put your startup on hold until you have the money you need. Case in point: I recently spoke with a small business owner who had just begun a financial advisory firm. She was anxious to let members of her target audience know about her services, had very specific ideas about how she wanted to do that including sponsoring four events/month, blogging weekly, speaking to groups, and doing media interviews, and she was interested in hiring me to help her plan and implement everything. The hitch? She could afford to spend just $500/month on all of that marketing!

#4. Assuming that you can minimize your expenses by handling your own marketing. Sure, there are business owners who have a flair for marketing; but they are the exception, not the rule. Furthermore, even if you are one of them, you are apt to find that you are too busy tending to the rest of your business to be able to plan and implement an ongoing marketing program. As a result, if you go it alone your marketing efforts will probably be sporadic at best and intermittently successful, if you are lucky. Case in point: Periodically, I speak with the owners of small startups who tell me that initially they plan to handle all of their own marketing, but that once their efforts have generated some momentum, they will hire me. Needless to say, I never hear from them again.

5. Cutting corners in the wrong ways. There are plenty of ways to reduce your marketing expenses without jeopardizing the effectiveness of your efforts. However, many business owners try to cut corners in ways that undermine their business. For example, one of the most common mistakes I see small business people make is hiring a relative, neighbor, or friend to design their website when that person has no real design talent, much less any knowledge of how to create a website that will be an effective marketing tool. Also, far too many business owners who are in the market for a website, hire the designer who gives them the lowest bid without first checking out what the designer has done for other companies and speaking to their owners to find out how their sites have performed. Another common mistake is hiring a relative or friend to write web site copy or to edit the copy the business owner wrote. Guess what? This penny wise and pound foolish approach almost always results in a badly written website that is not SEO friendly.

#6. Spending too much. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the small business owners who pay way too much for their marketing assistance. For example, they overpay for a badly designed site, or they get a good site but needlessly spend big bucks for it; they pay a large retainer to a marketing or PR firm and often get little or nothing in return; and/or they spend money on a pre-packaged enewsletter that is boring and does nothing to brand their business when they could have created their own customized newsletter for a fraction of the cost. Sadly, by the time these business owners realize what they’ve done wrong their bank accounts are drained and they don’t have adequate funds to change course. I’ve seen this happen time and time again.

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