Last Updated on September 5, 2022

Top 20 small business marketing mistakes you should avoid


Marketing is an important aspect of any small business or any kind of business for that matter. If you want to succeed in the shortest time, you need to have a solid marketing plan that will bring your goals into reality. This plan will tell you the specific things you should do to market your business. However, it is also of equal importance to determine which small business marketing mistakes you should avoid. It will save you a lot of time, money, and effort in the future.

Note that as a small business, you may not have enough leeway to experiment or do trial and error.

Thus, you should know the common rookie small business marketing mistakes so you can avoid them yourself.


Here are some small business marketing mistakes you should avoid.

We’ll also share some tips on how you can avoid them and make it right.

1. Not knowing your target market

One of the most common marketing mishaps is not knowing who you should target your marketing to.

Understandably, defining your target market or audience, in the beginning, is challenging.

However, remember that this is a crucial part of marketing.

As you may already know, for the most part, marketing is certainly not a one-size-fits-all field.

According to Forbes Magazine, it is essential to look at who makes or influences the buying decision.

For instance, if you are selling baby clothes, you are certainly not going to market it to babies.

Instead, you will target mothers.

They are your true customers.

Moreover, you simply don’t stop once you figure out your target market.

You have to make sure that the target market is not too small nor too vague.

Although you want to have a specific market, getting too specific narrows down your lead and prospects population.

If you are selling an expensive product to a specific niche, it’s not a bad idea at all.

Otherwise, you are not maximizing your sales potential.

Sometimes, you can also set a vague target market.

This is also a small business marketing mistakes that you want to avoid.

For instance, you may be selling sports attire for women.

You may think that your target market is women.

However, that is simply too vague.

Make sure you are targeting a specific group of women to make your marketing strategies more effective.

Tailor your marketing to female college students or perhaps working mothers.

This is just basic, but you get the gist.

2. Refusing to go down to the basics

The 5 by 5 marketing is one of the easiest paths to get into marketing your business.

This involves gathering and analyzing customer data, profiling and targeting your customers, and lastly, marketing for your customers.

These five things are essentially the basics.

If you master these, you know you are on the right path when it comes to marketing.

– Gathering customer data

First and foremost, you need to gather data from your customers.

This includes information about who they are, how they found out about your company if they like your company or not.

Moreover, you should also look into the specific purchases they made.

And any other information that would tell you a lot about their behavior and demographic.

– Analyzing customer data

Once you gather all the data you need, it’s time to analyze them.

These data are valuable for data-driven marketing.

Analytic marketing focuses more on segmentation.

You may create segments based on your customers’ geographic location, demographics, and behavior.

– Profiling your customers

Based on the data you analyzed, you can now profile your customers as to who are the most profitable.

This will help you in targeting your ideal market more easily.

– Targeting your customers

This step involves finding out how you can reach out to your customers the best way possible.

For example, if your target market is around 60 years old and above age group.

To reach out to them, you probably don’t want to use social media.

– Marketing for your customers

Lastly, you need to do the actual marketing targeted to your customers.

Tailor your marketing plan to your customers to make it as effective as it can be.

3. Forgetting to create a marketing plan

A solid marketing plan for your small business is crucial to success.

It is essentially the blueprint to the marketing tactics you will execute to promote your business.

Without a concrete plan, it is difficult to achieve the goals that you want.

A marketing plan directs you to a primary goal.

Moreover, it clarifies the things you need to do and how long it should take to do them.

It ensures that you won’t get distracted when you encounter short successes and failures.

Thus, it makes sure you remain consistent and stick to your strategy.

4. Ignoring the power of SEO

Failure to utilize Search Engine Optimization or SEO is one of the most common digital small business marketing mistakes.

If you are not aware of SEO yet, it is simply a strategy online marketers use to optimize their online content to rank on search engines like Google.

For instance, if you type ‘rubber shoes for women’ on Google, you will land on 10 websites on the first page.

The goal is to rank up your website on the front page of the search engine.

That way, people will see your website first.

SEO is a great way to generate leads and reach out to potential customers.

Moreover, it is relatively cheap to do.

Thus, it’s an ideal tool for small businesses.

5. Forgetting to know about competitors’ marketing strategies

The general rule that we follow is to always set our small business apart from its competitors.

However, sometimes, it’s better to be in the know about what they are doing.

To do so, you can simply conduct a Google search and see what your competitors are up to.

Moreover, you can make a S.W.O.T. analysis for every competitor you have.


This stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

This will help you have a good grasp of your competitors’ strategies.

Knowing their strategies may even help you surpass their success.

It helps you get ahead of your competition.

Simply exploring their business website is already a good way to see what they are up to.

You get information about their latest products and services, as well as promotions.

Moreover, you can also follow them on their social media.

See how they are handling their social media accounts.

You also get to see how much engagement they have.

Of course, you can observe what strategies they utilize and whether or not they are effective.

6. Putting all your eggs in one basket

You don’t want to be that small business that invested in one large campaign and ended up losing money because it failed.

In investing, experts tell you to never put all your eggs in one basket.

The same also applies to market your business.

Thus, the key is to diversify your marketing plans.

Never just use all of your marketing budgets in one campaign.

Perhaps social media is the place where you want to put most of your marketing budget.

That’s not a bad idea since social media is such a powerful platform to market your small business.

However, you shouldn’t just focus on one platform like Facebook.

You should try other avenues such as influencer marketing.

7. Not doing marketing enough

So you got a solid marketing plan but it’s not working.

Perhaps, you are not doing it enough.

For example, you are just focusing solely on social media marketing.

This is a great way to market your small business.

However, this isn’t the only avenue to do so.

Depending on your business type, you may need to adjust or modify your marketing platforms.

Your customers’ profiles also dictate what marketing platform you should invest in more.

If you are unsure if you are doing it enough, you can look at your competitors’ platforms.

Check their social media following and engagement.

If you are not up to their level, then maybe you are not doing it enough.

Meanwhile, you might also be skimping on your marketing budget.

The most basic rule is to set aside around 5-10% of your gross revenue for marketing.

Of course, a lot of factors still come to play in determining the exact amount.

8. Refusing to focus on existing customers

Focusing too much on getting new customers is one of the most common marketing mistakes small businesses make.

It only makes sense to focus on existing customers.

After all, these are the people who made actual purchases.

These are the people who your marketing was effective.

Customer-focused growth is essential for any business type – especially for small businesses.

According to experts, businesses expect a better return by focusing on existing customers instead of seeking new ones.

The goal is to create a long list of loyal customers.

Generating new ones is also a goal but the former should not be ignored.

Nurturing your relationship with existing customers is a lot easier than seeking out new ones.

You can do so by sending out promotional emails now and then or staying in touch through social media.

9. Forgetting to follow up on leads

Leads are your potential customers.

You often hear others say ‘prospect’.

Sometimes, you get a few leads here and there.

It’s exciting when that happens.

However, it’s a common small business marketing mistakes to not follow up on them.

When you come up with a lead, ideally, you want to seal the deal.

Following up on leads varies depending on where you get them.

For instance, if you generate social media leads, you need to convert them online.

Meanwhile, if it’s in the traditional route like a lead calling you to inquire, you also have to follow up in the same way.

Remember that leads are only good to you if you convert them to sales.

You need to convert your leads to customers.

10. You don’t track and analyze the results of your marketing campaigns

Failure to track your marketing campaigns’ results is a waste of your marketing budget. Undoubtedly, it can lead to business marketing mistakes.

Tracking the results and looking at the analytics help you figure out if the campaign worked or not.

It helps you mold your future campaign to make it more suitable or targeted to your market.

In social media, you should check on key metrics.

This includes popularity, interaction, potential scope, engagement, and conversion ratio.

Meanwhile, in general sites, you can look at new sessions, total visits, bounce rates, cost per lead, and total conversions.

Other things you can look at are click-through-rates, follow-up email open rate, page scroll depth, etc.

11. Not setting a marketing goal

It is impossible to achieve what you want if you don’t set a goal.

That also applies to small businesses.

Do you want to increase brand awareness?

Do you want to promote a product or service?

Determine why you are doing marketing.

From there, you can strategize how to achieve your goals.

Marketing goals for small businesses can either be short-term or long-term.

Short-term goals include driving website traffic, increasing engagement rates, and increasing follower counts.

Meanwhile, long-term goals include brand awareness, local search ranking, creating a reputation, etc.

12. Underestimating social media’s value in your small business

You may be surprised by how much social media can boost your business.

Often, you can do this even with a tight budget.

We understand that social media marketing isn’t for all business types and markets.

However, for the majority, it is a vital platform that many businesses overlook.

You can take advantage of Facebook and Instagram’s large following and usage.

This will help you reach your target audience much more efficiently and quickly.

Moreover, you can easily evaluate your metrics.

Remember to create and curate engaging posts to hook your target market.

Make them visually appealing and don’t rely so much on texts.

Especially on Instagram, people tend to just look at pictures and scroll.

Thus, you want to upload photos that will grab their attention.

Tailor your content depending on the social media platform.

13. Not prioritizing your business’ website

A common small business marketing mistakes is to neglect your ‘ website.

Whatever type of business you have, you will certainly benefit from creating a solid business website.

You can begin by conducting a site analysis.

This will let you know where you at in terms of load times and mobile responsiveness.

Remember that most people make their purchases on their phones.

Thus, you want to make sure your website is mobile-friendly.

Furthermore, this will also help you rank up in Google searches.

Take a look at your website design.

Is the interface clean and attractive or is it cluttered and difficult to navigate?

This is important to make sure people who click on your website don’t instantly click out.

You want them to stay.

Moreover, make sure your website is optimized for search engines.

You can do so through keyword research, SEO, link building, etc.

Once you have done all this, you can begin content marketing.

14. Underestimating word-of-mouth marketing’s power

Word-of-mouth marketing is a tried and true marketing strategy.

We can’t deny how effective this works.

It’s a given that if you have an amazing product, people will naturally tell other people about it.

However, if you are in such a big industry where all businesses are essentially similar things, you have to set yourself apart.

One of the main reasons why people promote a business is because of good service.

So how exactly can you keep the word-of-mouth going?

If you treat your customers right and professionally conduct business, it will show.

Even if you don’t have a physical store, you can exemplify this through online communication.

Moreover, make sure you are asking customers and clients to leave reviews on Facebook or Google.

15. Forgetting to evolve with your marketing strategies

Here’s the deal, what may have worked for you in the past may not work for you anymore.

Marketing is constantly evolving.

If you don’t keep up, you are losing potential sales and perhaps losing old customers.

Thus, make sure you are open to incorporating new things into your marketing strategy.

Doing so will ensure you’re continuously growing as a business and keeping up with competitors.

With a little but consistent research and analytics, you can always get on top of things.

16. Failing to determine your desired image for your business

Even small companies must have an image.

This is the image that you want your target market to see whenever they see your brand or business.

If you don’t have this, you will have a difficult time conveying a message to your target market. As a result, this may be developing into a vast business marketing strategy mistake.

This will also make it difficult to keep your branding consistent.

An easy way to do so is by selecting five words that will be the image of your business.

17. Not knowing where you are going wrong

You might know that there is something wrong with your marketing strategy.

You may know this because you are not achieving your marketing goals.

Maybe you are not meeting your follower count goal or have poor engagement in socials and your website.

It is good that you know that there is something wrong.

However, it’s important to know where.

What exactly are you doing wrong in your marketing and how is it affecting your growth as a business?

If you think your marketing is ineffective, you may just trash it and come up with a new one.

But it’s important to know why it was ineffective so you can modify it instead of immediately throwing it out.

18. Forgetting to utilize holidays in your strategy

Every year is filled with holidays.

Almost every month there is something to celebrate for.

You can take advantage of this in your business’ marketing strategy.

Make sure you’re tailoring content to monthly and yearly holidays.

When we say holidays, we don’t only mean the obvious.

It doesn’t only include the big ones like Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Valentine’s Day.

You should also include local holidays, International Women’s Day, or Dog Lover’s Day.

Holiday-centric content is more likely to increase engagement levels than typical posts.

When it’s a holiday, even small ones, people are more willing to spend.

19. Getting overwhelmed by too many strategies

There are lots of marketing strategies you can implement in your business.

However, the pitfall when it comes to doing all of them is that you may abandon a few strategies.

Thus, you are not getting their full potential.


If you are going to take on a variety of strategies, make sure you can handle them well.

Better yet, start with just one effective strategy.

Then, once you stabilize it and see positive results, you can move on to the next.

Nowadays, it’s easy to jump on whatever marketing bandwagon you see.

However, it is still beneficial for your business to calculate which ones you should take on first.

20. Refusing to reach out for expert help

Lack of flexibility in the marketing budget is maybe the most common reason why small businesses don’t reach out for expert help.

If you’re a rookie, you may think that social media is the only effective way to reach out to your target market.

However, there are other avenues you can explore such as blogs, influencer marketing, affiliate marketing, etc.

If you have no idea of going other routes or if you are not confident, it won’t help to hire professionals to do it for you.

If you allot enough marketing budget, there’s no reason you shouldn’t reach out for help.

By now, you already know how vital marketing is for small businesses.

It is crucial to know the essential things you should do when it comes to marketing.

However, knowing what not to do is also as important.

These small business marketing mistakes are some of the most common you should avoid.

Remember to analyze your marketing campaigns’ results to determine if you are doing it right or not.

Then, you continually improve on your strategy to ensure you’re always ahead of your competitors.

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