If you’ve ever seen the 1989 film Field of Dreams, you are familiar with the phrase, “If you build it, they will come.”  Fortunately for Kevin Costner’s leading character, that was true.  However, that isn’t exactly the case for small business owners.  Customers won’t just find you; you have to market to them.  The best thing we can do for our business is to learn from the mistakes of others, and then make better choices. Here are the most common marketing mistakes and how to fix them.

  • Underestimating the power of research – Think you’ve got that million dollar idea for a product or service?  Well before you invest significant amounts of money into such an idea, it is of utmost importance to do some serious market research and test your product/service with a real customer base.
  • Overestimating the power of research – Although this may seem contradictory to the previous statement, it is crucial to remember that emotions play a large part in customers’ decisions.  Yes, most consumers do their own research and respond well to the facts, but their emotions guide those decisions even more than they may realize, so connect with them on that level.  Keep this in mind when creating a marketing plan.
  • Ignoring the tried and true – As entrepreneurs, we want to be innovative with not only our products, but also our marketing strategies.  In your quest for originality, don’t spend too much time re-inventing the wheel.  Instead, familiarize yourself with existing tactics that have been successful for others.  Use these as the basis for your marketing techniques, and put your own twist on them so they are tailored to your particular business.
  • Fixing what isn’t broken – Your hard work and preparation have paid off, and you are enjoying a very successful promotion that you created yourself.  In fact, you’ve been reaping the rewards of this promotion for nearly a year.  It’s about time you switched it up and tried a different promotion right?  Wrong!  Just because you may be getting tired of it, don’t forget that an untapped market and new customers are discovering it for the first time.  If you really feel the need to try something different, keep what you have while testing out your new idea.  This way, you won’t lose out on time and profits if the results are less than satisfactory.
  • Lack of patience – Think of a memorable commercial you’ve recently seen.  Did it make you literally jump off your couch and head to the store for that product?  Probably not.  Remember that customers don’t act quickly.  When implementing a marketing strategy, patience is a virtue.  Give it some time to reach an audience and produce results.  Only then will you be able to tell if it is effective or not.
  • Casting too wide a net – You’ll never be able to be everything to everybody, so trying to be will only be a waste of time and money.  Figure out who your ideal customer is and focus on your target market.  By concentrating on a smaller niche, you will be able to satisfy unmet needs and wants of those customers.

Since marketing is such a subjective aspect of your business, it can be complicated and overwhelming.  Avoiding common pitfalls will save you time and help grow your business.  What else can you add to our list?