You probably didn’t start your own business because you love marketing. It’s more likely you started a business so you could make money doing what you enjoy. This often leads to mistakes being made in early stages of marketing a business. Sometimes these mistakes can have lingering effects, long into the life of a business. Marketing is one of those things that is worth getting right the first time.

Here’s 5 of the most common marketing mistakes.

1. Not Doing Market Research

The best advice you can receive is to do your homework. Get stuck into your market research before you sign on the dotted line for your new business. If you’re already a business owner, it’s not too late to research your prospective customers and competitors, and find out as much as you can about the local marketplace. Speak to anyone and everyone who may be able to help you: other business owners, local business people, potential clients, and even family.

Don’t be shy or wary of looking foolish with your questions. You’ll look more foolish if your new business hits the buffers in the first six months and becomes yet another failure statistic.

Keep asking questions. Listen hard. Then act.

Get to know your potential customers with this Free Customer Avatar Workbook.

2. Pushing Too Hard for a Conversion before Building Trust

 You can’t ask people to give you money straight off the bat. This is one marketing mistake I see small business owners make all the time:

  • Asking for a sale on social media will not get you customers.
  • Asking for a sale in the newspaper will not get you customers.
  • Asking for a sale over the radio will not get you customers.

The reason this doesn’t work is because you haven’t built trust with the people you’re trying to reach yet. Constant ads might work for the large department store that people have been shopping at for 20 years. But that’s because the relationship and brand awareness has already been developed with their customers.

You haven’t built trust with the people you’re trying to reach yet.

It’s important to step back and think about how consumers view your business. Do they know you well enough to take you up on an offer? When an initial marketing attempt doesn’t work, business owners tend to think there is something wrong with their pricing and start discounting. Often this isn’t the problem; mainly, it’s about trust.

Business owners often put up a salesy post and are then baffled when nothing happens. “Social media doesn’t work,” they think to themselves, and they get on with their day.

Social media and content marketing definitely work if done right, and small business owners have the opportunity to make it their own! The more consistent you are, and the more value you give people, the more likely you will start to see things happen. By being consistent and not pushy, you will build trust, and you are also going to start noticing what works well and what doesn’t.

You can’t expect to see results overnight. Build trust, and your sales will build alongside it.

3. Not Setting Goals

It’s very easy to send out an email, or whip together a social media ad, but if you don’t have a clear idea of exactly what you’re trying to achieve, you won’t get as much value out of the campaign as you otherwise could have. Also, you won’t be able to tell if your campaign was successful or not. If you don’t know exactly what you want from your campaign, how are you going to know if you got it or not?

A good rule of thumb for your marketing goals is that they should be specific. “More people coming in the door” is probably not specific enough. “Sell 10% more hair treatments in June of this year than we sold in June of last year” is more specific and easier to track.

It’s also easier to put together the content of your online marketing if you know exactly what you are trying to achieve.

So before you even start your marketing activity, think about exactly what you want to achieve. This will inform the rest of your campaign.

4. Getting Your Pricing Wrong

Setting your prices too high or too low is an all-too-common marketing mistake.

Finding the right price point is probably one of the hardest tasks you face in your new venture. Set your prices too high and potential new customers will be put off. Set them too low and you won’t be able to pay the bills at the end of the month.

Too many newbie owners fall into the trap of thinking clients only buy their products and services based on price. The result? They pitch their price list too low.

This comes back to doing your initial marketing research. What are your competitors charging? What customer experience are they offering in return for this price?

Clients may not be as price-sensitive as you fear — especially if you’re giving them a great customer experience. So set your prices a tad higher than your rivals to start with and see what happens.

If your price levels are an issue, you’ve got some leeway to reduce them. Lowering your prices is always easier than increasing them.

5. Exhausting Your Audience

Let’s say you have a database of 5,000 current and potential clients. You send an email to all of them, asking them to book an appointment. 1,500 people open the email, fifteen people make an appointment and fifty people unsubscribe.

Not bad, you think – that’s fifteen appointments you wouldn’t have had otherwise. So you do it again in a week. Now you have 4,950 people on your database, and you get the same results. Then you repeat it again, and your list falls to 4,900. Then you do it again, and you’re at 4,850.

You can see how this ends. Unless you add fifty new contacts a week, you’re eventually going to run out of people to contact. What’s more, as your list gets smaller, the number of appointments you get from each email will also dwindle.

Email marketing isn’t the only channel where you can make this marketing mistake. Social media ads, search engine ads, and other channels can all create versions of the same problem. Even if people don’t, or can’t, unsubscribe, if you communicate too often, your marketing will just turn into white noise.

One way to avoid this is to just do less marketing. This is not a great solution because marketing is what gets customers in the door!

A better way to avoid this mistake is to segment your audiences for your marketing activity. Rather than send an email to every single person in your database, send an email with a specific offer to people who bought a particular service in the last six months. This not only protects the rest of your database, it also allows you to give a more targeted, and hopefully more effective, offer to the smaller segment you’ve selected. So while you will reach a smaller number of people, more of those people will click through and make an appointment.

To learn about marketing through different channels, read our guide on Omni-channel Marketing.

Marketing a business is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s important to get a good start, but it’s also important to keep that pace going as long as you can. Don’t push out all your marketing communications at once and then do nothing for the rest of the year. Plan out your marketing efforts over a few months or a year in order to build trust over time. Then when the time is right for a certain audience, target them specifically with an offer they can’t refuse on the marketing channel you think will work best.

Finally, learn from what you achieved over the course of your marketing campaign and apply these learnings to the next one. Your marketing should evolve alongside your business.

About the Author:

Andrew Wassenaar is the Inbound Marketing Manager for Timely Salon & Spa Software – the business management software that saves you time, so that you can focus on what you do best. Andrew collects, writes and distributes content to provide as much value as possible for business owners looking for assistance, guidance, or even just inspiration.