The 5 Biggest Strategic Marketing Mistakes Small Companies Make

Usually I talk about how to think and approach marketing in a different way for better results whether those results are to get more customers, increase your conversion rate, differentiate your business, create content assets, etc.

But you also need to know about the factors that will erode your business.

If you want your business to thrive, watch out for these five strategic marketing mistakes. Get them straightened out and you’ll get your business on the road to robust good health.

#1. Not Identifying a Who

This may be the greatest single mistake for small business disaster. Small businesses are often just telling their story to whomever will listen = everybody.

The problem with this approach is if you think everyone that breaths is your ideal customer chances are you’ll spend money in the wrong media channels and time at the wrong events or on the wrong platforms, wasting your greatest resources of time and money.

Instead, identify your ideal customer. Use your existing customer base to identify the characteristics of your best customers. With that information, develop a detailed profile of your ideal customer. Then, show up in the media channels and in-person events where prospects that most closely fit the profile will be. You may be featured in fewer publications and meet with fewer people, but you’ll close more sales.

#2. Using Customer Expectations as Differentiators

Quite often I will ask small business owners to tell me what’s different about their business from others. The most common answers are, “we have the best price, we give our customers a quality product, or we have better service.”

I’m here to tell small businesses that communicating price, quality, and service are no longer strong enough reasons to differentiate your business for a potential prospect. These are all customer expectations.

The difference needs to be in the way you do business, how you package your product, the way you sell your service, the way you answer the phone, your appearance on a sales call, your signage, marketing kit, etc. – it’s all in the way you provide your service or product.

#3. Communicating What You Do Very Blandly

In marketing your small business, your job is to help the prospect actually understand and perhaps even feel how your business is different from every other business. And lacking this ability to communicate and capture what you do is a recipe to compete on price.

This mistake often occurs at networking events when small business owners or employees are asked, “So, what do you do or tell me about your company”

The typical bland response for many is to say . . . “I’m in the cleaning business, I’m an consultant, I’m a plumbing contractor or I’m a account specialist.”

Your response needs to communicate and capture what you do, who you help and the results they get. [Example] “I show sales reps how to close more deals.” “I help young couples retire rich.” I teach divorced women how to manage money.” “I give wealthy individuals peace of mind.”

#4. Assuming Branding is Just a Logo

It’s popular nowadays to put all your eggs in one basket — but even if your logo is eye catching and interesting, it can’t shoulder the whole load of your brand. And it means nothing if potential prospects are frustrated once they experience your brand.

Just as important as getting the logo right is creating a experience that customers love. That’s why your business must strategically identify and deliver an great experience in the many ways that prospects and customers come into contact with your brand.

Think through all the ways customers and prospects can come into contact with and experience your organization. A great place to start is to identify these three core areas: marketing touchpoints, sales touchpoints and service touchpoints.

#5. Creating Content Instead of Content Marketing

Almost every small business has heard about the need to produce content in marketing has grown as today is more about being found—earning attention—and less about going out and hunting. Unfortunately the mistake is that it’s being interpreted by most as “write more content.”

The word content itself has a lot of hoopla around it today, but there’s a huge difference content and content marketing.

Plenty of small companies have been using content to market their business for a long time, this isn’t anything new—whether it’s a proposal, magazine, ad, brochure, rack card, marketing kit, email, stationary, blog post or newsletter. Most of this content is entirely promotional, focused on the company: their products, services, accolades, features and benefits—not the customer or the information that they are most interested in and find valuable.

Content marketing is the creation of free valuable content that has a marketing purpose. That purpose is awareness, educating and building know, like and trust, enough to do business with you. The goal of content marketing is consumption, then behavior.

Start employing content marketing by creating content to answer common problems or questions customers have with your service or product. You can also develop content that shares creative ideas for getting more advanced results from your service or product.