There is so much involved in starting a business, it’s understandable when things fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, marketing is one area that many new business owners neglect or treat as more of an afterthought.

Developing a marketing strategy is just as important as developing a budget. It is a key element in growing a customer base and generating revenue. This is not a simple process; mistakes are often made.

Here are some of the most common mistakes made —along with some strategies for avoiding them:

1. Misunderstanding Your Audience

You might think you know who your audience is, but without proper market research, you won’t know for sure. And if you're wrong, your business runs the risk of failure — there are no second chances.

Your target audience is the basis of not only your marketing campaign, but nearly every decision regarding your business. Most importantly, it will tell you if there is a need for your product or service in the first place.

There are several ways to conduct your market research. It can be as simple as a customer survey on your website, or depending on budget, you could hire a firm to conduct the research and go over the results with you.

2. Inconsistent Branding

As a new business, you must work toward consistent branding across all marketing materials. This helps people recognize your business and helps your brand feel more dependable. When a customer sees a memorable logo, color scheme, or other brand elements, it brings to mind the characteristics they associate with your business; be it product quality or customer service. It ultimately builds trust.

As the face of your brand, your logo will likely be the most ubiquitous part of your marketing, from your website and social media to your signage and business cards. Work with an expert to make sure your logo shines across all mediums, as sometimes it can appear distorted at extremely large or small sizes.

3. Ignoring Offline Marketing

While many people get their information from the web, that still isn’t the case for everyone. Don’t alienate part of your audience by only catering to an online market. Though the younger generation is very comfortable with online advertising and finding information online, older generations don’t have the same trust in the web as they do with paper material.

Depending on budget, you could use direct mail, rent a billboard, or put ads in the local newspaper. All of your offline marketing techniques can still drive traffic to your online resources if you include a website URL.

Many customers will want to do more research on your products or services online prior to making contact with you, so it’s important that your online and offline marketing work well together.

4. Offering the Wrong Content

Content marketing can be beneficial to your business —if done correctly. You want to ensure you're including useful information in your blog. What resources would be helpful to customers? What questions are they asking about your industry? Once again, your market research will come in handy.

Give your customers what they need. Don’t fill your blog with self-promotional articles and reviews of your own products. People will know you are not authentic and steer clear of your blog. Instead, post helpful and useful articles that educate your market. Establish yourself as a thought leader in your space. While it is important to post on a consistent basis, it’s also important to remember: quality over quantity.

Remember to share your content on social media. Don’t forget to include custom images; use bold, warm colors to capture people’s attention.

5. Too Much Social Media

Speaking of social media, you can have too much of a good thing.

Yes, it is important to have social media pages for your business, but make sure they are worth the time and effort. If you develop a presence on every platform, you’re going to wear out your resources and the quality of your posts will suffer.

Use your market research to determine which two or three platforms will work best for your business. Develop a social media strategy and work from there. Make sure you have the time to commit to creating posts and engaging with customers on each platform.

Because each platform shares information differently, it’s important to tailor posts accordingly. You can’t cut and paste the same messaging on each site. It’s lazy, and your customers will notice. Instead, find a fresh way to communicate your content that’s well suited for the platform you’re posting on.

Don't Let These Mistakes Derail Your Success

Developing a marketing strategy isn’t easy—a lot of elements come into play. Which social media platforms to use? How many business cards to order? And what will your next blog topic be? You need to make sure you have the time and resources to commit to each tactic—all while staying within budget.

Sometimes, it’s a matter of trial and error to find out what works and what doesn’t, and mistakes get made. But hopefully, they won’t be any of the five listed above.

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