• Sophie

Three big mistakes to avoid when marketing your business

Updated: Jan 28

One of the reasons we seek advice from people who have specialist skills is because they not only have the knowledge, they have experience.

Anyone who has spent time in a particular industry has usually made a whole bunch of mistakes to get to where they are now; and because they have made mistakes, they can advise how to avoid them.

This week I was asked to share some marketing advice at a networking event. Not knowing people's individual marketing challenges, I decided to share some of the mistakes us marketers see businesses make on the regular (see the YouTube video below).

In fact I asked a whole community of marketers what they thought were the biggest mistakes, with over 100 responses, and this is what they came up with...


1. Marketing Myopia

Don't confuse tactics with strategy.

Strategy is simply a plan, your plan, what you want your business to achieve. Tactics are the things you use to try and achieve the goal. Social media is a tactic, PR is a tactic, advertising is a tactic. Going to a networking event is not a strategy, it is a tactic.

It is important to make and understand the distinction, because a little planning goes a long way. If you have a plan (and it doesn't need to be complicated), you can:

a) choose the tactics that are most likely to help you

b) avoid getting distracted by bright shiny things

Myopia is defined as 'a condition in which one can see near objects but cannot see far objects clearly'. It is the same with tactics and strategy, if you only focus on what is front of you, you'll lose sight of the long term goal.


2. Making Assumptions

It is dangerous to base your marketing strategy on what you think or on your experience. Unless your customer is you - assume you know nothing!

This is a difficult one to take on board, particularly if your business was born out of a personal experience. Perhaps you were looking for a product that didn't exist, perhaps you experienced bad service, or used a piece of technology and had an 'there must be a better way' moment.

The problem every marketer, and business owner, faces is the inability to be objective. The moment you are 'in' a business, you cannot be objective. This is why your market research is so important, as it will help you to KNOW how your customer behaves, what they want.

This doesn't mean your instinct is not correct, but if you think you know what your customer wants, test your theory first to see if it holds water.


3. The Curse of Omnipresence

It can be difficult as a small business owner to not feel the pressure to 'do everything' in your marketing. Sadly, unless you have unlimited time and money, you cannot

  • be everywhere

  • sell everything

  • to everyone

Not only is it not practical, it usually isn't effective either. If you spread your efforts too thin, you'll struggle to see results, and may end up feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.

While it is proven that utilising more than one marketing tactic has a larger impact collectively than each on their own, it is far better to choose say 2 or 3 and invest in doing those well, than scratching the surface of 9 or 10.


Out of all the responses I had, these were the top three mistakes by a country mile. However, I had to give an honourable mention to the next two as well...

4. Great expectations

A common theme that arose was the gap in understanding between cost and return, or to put it bluntly 'assuming you can make a million off a hundred quid'.

As a general rule of thumb, one boosted social media posts will not an empire make! Now, I believe it is up to us marketers to help business owners understand what they are investing in, and what 'good' results look like, but make no mistake kids, this is not the same for everyone.

Knowing what you are trying to achieve again helps massively here, is it short term or long term, are you seeking to drive sales or create awareness? If you know this you can then be realistic about what you can put in, and what you will get out of your marketing efforts.


5. Nobody cares

Harsh, but true. The fact is, you care about your new service or product because it is close to your heart, but your audience are unlikely to feel the same.

If you've got a shiny new website, or some beautifully branded notebooks, that is wonderful (as a marketer I know how much time and effort go into these things), but don't make the mistake of thinking your customers care in the same way as you do, they don't.

What people do care about is the outcome. The time it could save them, the money they don't have to spend, how it will make them feel and so on. How will it affect THEM.

Perhaps your shiny new website you're so proud of is good for them because the purchase process has been made so super smooth they can check out in less than 5 minutes. Remember this in all your marketing efforts and you'll make a much bigger impact.

The added advantage of remembering nobody cares in marketing, is that what you think is a major disaster probably isn't a major disaster after all...


Three (well, five) mistakes to avoid when marketing your business.

I am at this point going to add a caveat. Even if you avoid making these ☝ mistakes, you will most likely make others, and that's ok.

Mistakes mean you tried something. Every time you don't get the results you were expecting, you'll learn something new. You might realise you did make an assumption after all, maybe you missed something along the way. You can use this information to improve things for next time - you'll still be further forward than when you started!

P.s - this is the talk if you're really invested and want to hear more...

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