The 3 Biggest Mistakes Business Owners Make with Marketing

Effective marketing – it’s the one thing small business owners stress most about. Marketing is necessary for business survival, but in our world of rapid technological change, the ‘best’ marketing methods just keep on shifting. And getting it wrong can be a costly exercise.

The good news is, for everything that changes, there are marketing fundamentals that remain the same. For your marketing to be effective, you will always need to avoid the following, all-too-common mistakes.

Mistake #1: Not defining your target market

“Defining your target market or niche is the single most important business decision you can make as an entrepreneur”

Saskia Gregory

“Hi, I’m Louisa, and the product I’m promoting is a premium organic skincare range.”

“That’s great, Louisa. Who is your target market?”

“Umm, it’s women? With skin?”

No, Louisa, it’s not. That’s far too broad.

Expensive, organic skincare is going to be attractive to some women, but not to all. The first thing you need to do is figure out the characteristics of the group of women that are relevant to your product.

To target your marketing efforts accordingly, you must consider whether there’s an age range within which your ideal clients generally fit? Are they a certain gender? Do they care about the environment? Do they have kids and care about chemicals in the home? Are they so motivated to achieve something with their skin that money is no object?

Defining your niche allows you to make the most of social media’s advertising capabilities. It helps you identify key phrases that will attract the people most likely to press ‘buy’ to your website. It will ensure you price and package your product in a way that appeals precisely to your ideal customer. And that, in turn, means more sales and a much bigger bang for your marketing buck.

Mistake #2: Focusing on the money instead of delivering a benefit

“Chase the vision and not the money. The money will end up following you.”

Tony Hsieh, Zappos founder

Want people to buy from you, instead of your competition? Then be the business owner whose prime purpose is to improve the customer’s life, and to deliver what the customer truly needs.

Be the person who wakes up every morning and wants to fit kids’ feet with the right shoes for them, to ensure their feet grow beautifully. Don’t be the business owner who pushes a sale as soon as they meet you, or who floods your Facebook feed with ads.

If you are the person who wakes up every morning just wanting to make money, then your focus is in the wrong place. Take time to get to know and understand your customers’ genuine needs, successfully communicate your approach to them, and the money will follow.

Mistake #3: Building contacts, not relationships

Networking is not about just connecting people. It’s about connecting people with people, people with ideas, and people with opportunities.”

Michele Jennae “Networking is not collecting contacts! Networking is about planting relationships.” Mishaat

Networking can be one of the most cost-effective ways to garner new business, especially in those early start-up days. But networking done badly can be a waste of time, and even put people off buying from you.

Firstly, don’t go into a networking event with a ‘sell sell sell’ approach. It’s off-putting. Go in there with the aim of establishing and building relationships. Secondly, follow through! If you meet people, hand out cards and then never speak to them again, you won’t have achieved much. Go in with the goal of seeking out the people you want to talk to, start a relationship, and then follow up after the networking event.


Whether you’re a business manager or aspiring entrepreneur, RMIT’s Master of Marketing online course will bring you up-to-date with the latest marketing concepts from industry renowned experts – including how to unlock consumer behaviour, develop a killer brand strategy and win at social media Designed specifically for online learning, the course offers flexible delivery to fit in with your life. Find out how RMIT’s Master of Marketing can give you that entrepreneurial edge today.

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