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Common Mistakes in Small Business Marketing

Small businesses make some common mistakes when it comes to marketing often leading to sluggish sales or leaving money on the table. A couple of quick fixes can energize revenue and pump up the bottom line. It doesn’t take an expert or a lot of work to make it happen. Just apply some common sense to the fundamentals and you’ll be on your way to marketing stardom.

Each one of these points I have run into repeatedly and it’s frustrating to think of the opportunity lost. Here they are in no particular order.


While pricing can be terribly complicated, it doesn’t need to be for most businesses. Follow these rules when coming up were your price structure:

• Know what your competition charges

• Don’t be at the very top or the very bottom

• The bigger the customer commitment to you, the bigger the discount

• Understand value from the customer’s perspective, the higher the value, the higher the price or rate

• Think through where you will discount and “give” to make a sale beforehand


Everyone makes this mistake from time to time, I know I have. Evaluate how you package your product and promote it with the customer’s perspective in mind. Often times you and the customer might as well be speaking different languages. What’s important to the customer is what counts, not what you think should be important.

• Ask yourself what makes the customer feel pain when it comes to your product or service

• What products or services are best packaged together, what are the easiest up-sells

• How will your product make or save the customer money

• What makes you different in a way that will benefit the customer


Advertising, websites and collateral material can all be black holes of expense, sucking in every last dollar you’re willing to spend often times with no results. Try everything that makes sense until you hit upon the five to ten that produce the highest return on investment. Maintain a steady use of those and continue trying new ones.

• Measure the expense and return on each campaign

• Establish your expectations upfront

• Don’t give up too quickly or fund too long, establish decision points to avoid the emotion


Does anybody really want what you’re selling? All too often we fall in love with our own product or service and leave the customer out of the equation. Avoid products that require you to convince the customer they need it. Yes, big returns can be realized if you hit the right one, but life is too short and a small business can’t afford to be on the losing side of one of these bets.

• Your product or service should be easy to understand

• Features should translate directly into value from the customer’s perspective

• Package and present products in a logical migration path

• Have a product roadmap to plan your own development


Going hand-in-hand with not trying having to convince the customer they need or want your service, deliver the service in the manner they’re accustomed to getting it. Again, differentiating based on how the supply chain works may fascinate you, it does tend to be disconcerting to the client.

• The safe bet is to do what works and that’s what others are doing

• Watch closely where the value is added and what the costs are in your distribution process

• Make sure you own the customer, not a third party involved in selling your service


These rules are not universal, every business is different, but more often than not they will apply to small businesses. You might ask where to find sources of differentiation if I take all these safe bets in by marketing strategy. Here you go:

• The one that can best view life through the clients eyes wins

• The quality of your product or service and how you promote, sell, deliver and service it

• Where you successfully decide to ignore the rules

All of these points merge together and are not standalone. Marketing is both an art and a science. Creativity is critical, analysis is vital and decision making with a business perspective is essential. It’s also fun.

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About the Author

Richard Gabel, Meadow Creek Marketing
22525 SE 64th Place
Issaquah, WA 98027
(425) 557 3635

If you would like to re-print this article, please contact the author.
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