7 Basic Mistakes That Will Stop Your Marketing Dead In Its Tracks

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When I get a new client enquiry, there is one thing I ALWAYS do first.


What I do isn’t rocket science.  I just think like a customer.  I pretend that someone referred that business to me with just a name and no contact details.


Then I try and find them.


First, I type their name in Google.  If I have no luck, I try business directories that have free listings for local businesses.


I’m still amazed how many times I cannot find these businesses.  No wonder they are on the phone to me.  If I can’t find you, imagine how hard it is for customers.


This highlights one of the most common marketing mistakes in small business.   And that’s just one.


So, here are seven really basic mistakes we see small and big businesses make every day.  This stuff isn’t rocket science, but you must get it right.


1.    Your business is impossible to find.


If I can’t find your business either through search engines or other means, you have a really BIG problem.  This will only take you a few minutes to fix.  Even if you don’t have a website (and you should) you can:


  • Create a Google Places listing
  • Claim a free listing with True Local, Yellow Pages and Yelp.
  • Start a LinkedIn profile and create a company profile.
  • Create a Twitter and Facebook page for your business.

Any of these, created using your business name, will make you easy to find on the web.


2.   Your business is impossible to order from


I’m always amazed how many businesses make you jump through hoops to order from them.  In particular, businesses trying to sell online.  Here are some examples:


  • An online store that has a shopping cart set up but wants you to ring them for a delivery cost.
  • A business that asks you to email them at sales@companyx.com.au and they will email you back an order form which you can fill out and send back.

These are actual real life examples of businesses trying to sell online and wondering why they are not successful.


3.   You don’t respond in a timely fashion to customer inquiries.


You will be surprised at how many businesses send all calls to answering machines and don’t check their emails for website enquiries.   No marketing campaigns are going to work if you don’t let the customer in.


4. Your marketing copy is confusing


Confusing marketing copy is a problem for many businesses.  They fill their websites and marketing brochures with confusing industry jargon and fail to follow the basic rules of marketing which is to tell the customer how you will solve their problems.


Many small businesses write their own copy; this is where the problem lies.  My advice is to leave the copywriting to professionals or at least have one wordsmith look over/check your work to make it more appealing to your target market.


5. You lack basic customer service skills


No marketing will help you if your customer service is poor.  In 2012, customers expect good customer service.  If they don’t get it, they go elsewhere.  It’s that simple.


6.    You have no idea who your target market is.


I still see businesses who tell me their target market is everyone.  “We are after everyone”, they say, ” we are like Coca-Cola”.  Then I have to tell them: they are nothing like Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola knows EXACTLY who their target market is, and you are just flapping in the breeze seeing what will come by.


7. You don’t have a customer database


Again, you would be surprised how many times I hear this.  There are still companies out there that don’t use customer relationship management software. Whose only records are an MYOB customer file.  You know what they say: the money is in the list.  And unless you have a list, you cannot market your business to those who have bought from you before.  Start building a database, and start doing it today.


You might read through this list and think, this stuff is simple.  But, speaking from the experience of someone who deals with small businesses every day, it’s often the basics that businesses fail to get right.  And if you get them right, you will be well on the way to marketing your business more effectively.


About the author

Chris Dale Chris Dale is the founder and Managing Director of MarketingHQ. He is a Certified Practising Marketer with over 15 years senior marketing experience. He helps small and medium sized businesses create great marketing strategies and systems that grow their businesses. You can connect with him on or on LinkedIn.

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