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Susan Burnash
Marketing, Public Relations, Video Production
Atlanta, Georgia
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The Top Ten Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Make (#1 - 3)

Learn the common mistakes small businesses make so that you can be sure to avoid them.
Written Jun 01, 2009, read 1872 times since then.


Marketing is critical to the success of every business. Unfortunately, many businesses discount the effect it can have, and they forego marketing because they believe they can’t afford it or simply don’t have the time or energy to create a plan.  Perhaps this is why a high percentage of small businesses fail.  But you don’t have to be a statistic when you approach marketing with the importance it deserves.  Below you will find some of the most common marketing mistakes businesses make. 

Mistake #1: Not Developing a Marketing Plan

Most entrepreneurs or small companies are understandably eager to see a return on the investment of time and money they have made in their business.  Ready to start cashing in, they either hit the pavement running or hire a salesperson to do it for them.  But a business trying to sell a service or product, without first creating a marketing plan, is much like a marathon runner with no finish line.  At first, you may feel like you are moving forward and passing some of your competitors by, but sooner or later you’ll find yourself running in circles; frustrated, exhausted and sadly disillusioned by an idea that not too long ago created the exact opposite effect.

What is a marketing plan and why create one?  Because it’s the foundation of your business and it helps you design your product and service, identify your target audience, and provide a roadmap to head you towards your final destination: Success.  But equally important, a marketing plan provides the specific details needed to increase visibility, expand your customer base, and provide quantifiable methods to measure your return on investment (ROI).

Mistake #2: Not Planning a Marketing Budget

Most businesses without a marketing plan also lack a marketing budget.  And companies without both have the highest rate of failure.  After all, would you run your personal life without a budget?  If you said yes, you may be one of the unfortunate souls overextended with credit or on the verge of bankruptcy.  If you own a small business, this can be avoided by simply creating and living with a well-conceived marketing budget.  From the very beginning, and while you are writing your Marketing Plan, it is important to focus on the financial costs of implementation.  A general rule of thumb says that at least 10% of your revenue should be designated for your marketing efforts.  That means dollars specifically pinpointed for Web site design and maintenance, logo design and brand development, marketing collateral, both print and electronic, and paying someone, if you don’t have the time, skills, or desire to do so, to handle all of your Public Relations needs.  But make sure when allocating money for marketing that you also have a means for tracking your ROI.  If your ROI is low after several months of trying a particular strategy, go back to your marketing plan and look at trying something different.  If your ROI is high, stay with what is working, but go back to your plan and budget and accelerate to the next phase. 

Mistake #3: Not Targeting a Specific Target Audience

How does the saying go? “You can’t be everything to everyone?”  When it comes to sales and marketing nothing could be truer.  That’s why identifying your target market is critical to your success.  It is also critical to choosing the appropriate marketing techniques to reach potential customers.  If you are selling a woman’s product, be women-centric with your marketing, advertising, and PR campaigns.  If you offer a service or product for small businesses, stick to small business publications and mailing lists.  Targeting Fortune 500 companies is a waste of time and money.  They already have established vendors in place.  So, don’t try to be everything to everyone.

Learn more about the author, Susan Burnash.

Comment on this article

  • physical therapist 
Seattle, Washington 
David (Dahveed) Gross PT
    Posted by David (Dahveed) Gross PT, Seattle, Washington | Jun 01, 2009

    These are all good reminders. As a physical therapist I have trained for thousands of hours to advance my practice in something that I love. As a still learning entrepreneur, marketing is still a challenge. I am going to print out these points to help remind me.

    I have had a membership in Business Networking International ( and it has been very helpful to me in learning the ropes of marketing.

  • Energetic Speaking Coach for Entrepreneurs & NPOs 
Bellevue, Washington 
Pamela Ziemann
    Posted by Pamela Ziemann, Bellevue, Washington | Jun 01, 2009

    Thanks Susan - I'm looking forward to your Marketing event on June 11th!

  • career marketing consultant 
new york, New York 
david werner
    Posted by david werner, new york, New York | Jun 08, 2009

    quite right . . .'identifying your target market is critical to your success'

  • Marketing, Public Relations, Video Production 
Atlanta, Georgia 
Susan Burnash
    Posted by Susan Burnash, Atlanta, Georgia | Jun 08, 2009

    We are holding several classes on How To Write Your Marketing Plan in Only One Day. If you are interested in finding out more visit and click on upcoming classes under Purple Duck University. I'd love to see you there!