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6 common marketing mistakes small businesses make

By June 25, 2019 Stories
6 common marketing mistakes small businesses make | Image by Dylan Gillis

Empowering small businesses to take control of their digital marketing and demystify social media is more than just our livelihood, it’s what we’re passionate about.

Over the past two years, we’ve been honoured to present digital marketing workshops to hundreds of small business owners across Australia and help them tame their digital marketing demons.

It’s a role that’s afforded us the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and troubleshoot the most common marketing problems that small businesses face with their websites, social media and content marketing strategy.

Not surprisingly, most business owners have exactly the same gripes with anything digital; and time, knowledge and experience usually all vie for top spot. What is surprising though – is how many simple solutions are completely overlooked by small businesses who continue to drown in their digital marketing efforts.

If you’re feeling like your digital presence might need fine-tuning – start by looking under the hood of your business to see if you’re making one of these common pitfalls.

We’ve outlined a step-by-step solution, so you can tackle each pitfall head-on. Just remember, when it comes to anything digital, action rather than apathy is always your best defence.

Pitfall 1: I don’t know where my passwords are (website, social media, you name it)

Cue the sirens and press the panic button. This is an alarming problem and one we see all too often with our workshop attendees.

Employees move on, web-developers leave, managers lose the little green book of passwords and suddenly no one has access to the back-end of the website, social media or analytics account. SOS!

No matter the size or scale of your business, access to your primary marketing channels is as vital as knowing your login details to bank accounts and financials, which we have no doubt aren’t handed out so frivolously to contractors.

Guard your assets and safeguard them like you would your personal details – not having login details is like having a car without the keys to it (and we don’t mean in the swanky keyless entry kind of way).

The solution:

  • Use secure password-storing apps to keep a copy of all of your usernames and passwords in one place
  • Always set up social media accounts using the generic email e.g. admin/info that won’t get lost if somebody leaves, which means your password reset attempts can actually be found
  • Before staff leave or move on, ensure your business’ social media accounts are taken off their personal devices
  • Ask your web-developer for your logins to your website, you should always have a copy of these as well so you aren’t beholden to a web-developer who might leave the country or the business relationship between you two turns sour

Pitfall 2: I don’t know who my target market is

Time for a marketing 101. Everyone has a target audience. Everyone.

Products who try to be all things to all people, appeal to all tastes and budgets or promote such similar vagary, do nothing to promote their point of difference or why people should use/buy their product.

If your message or product has no audience, how do you expect anyone to hear it?

The solution:

  • Get clear on which audience or audiences your product really appeals to. If you don’t know, ask someone who doesn’t work for you – we find they often offer the best truth serum when it comes to your product.
  • If you’re still stuck, there are a plethora of audience analysis documents you can use to define who you’re talking to. We even have one in our Social Media Handbook which you can download here and a whole blog post on the subject.

Pitfall 3: I don’t understand social media so I gave it to my youngest employee

Holy operational risk!

Why would anyone give the keys to a megaphone with the capability of reaching 15 million people (aka active Australian Facebook users in 2018) to someone with probably the least knowledge of your business?

If you’re confused by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or your computer, you need to run towards the problem not away from it.

The solution:

  • Book into one of the myriads of social media workshops on offer around the country. We proudly offer a one-on-one workshop or in a group setting for up to 10PAX if your team need to be upskilled in how to run your social media accounts (you can book Media Mortar Live here).
  • You can ask the youngest member of the team (likely a digital native) to teach you how social media works, but we suggest staying in charge of posting, commenting and moderation yourself so you know how it works and learn yourself. Ask younger members of your team for regular feedback and treat them like your very own personal social media trainer
  • Download one of the internet’s many eBooks and how to guides to running social media successfully. We have a Social Media Handbook, which costs less than the price of a lunch out, and will take you through your social media paces. Get your hands on a copy here.
  • Take the pain out of thinking of the content and coming up with your caption, with a off-the-shelf content calendar like this one we wrote. It’s like a social media manager in your pocket for just 63 cents per week.

Pitfall 4: I don’t know why people show up at 9am at my business when we’ve always opened at 10am

Have you ever claimed your Google Business listing and outlined your hours? No? Google has done some guess work which is why people are showing up at the wrong time.

Your Google Business listing is free to update and claim – and works like the Yellow Pages of business with your phone number, website, photos and opening hours to name a few features.

Spend some time populating your listing with images, address and contact details. Reviews are king when it comes to SEO and being found, so be sure to start collecting business reviews too.

The solution:

  • Visit Google My Business and work through the steps to set up your Google Business account. Add your business details such as your name, address, phone number and web address along with a short description of what services you offer. Once you have completed the steps, you’ll need to verify your account. Google will send you a postcard in the mail with a verification code and steps on how to verify your account.
  • If you need further assistance because your business has been claimed by say a former owner, contact a marketing specialist who can help change you over.

Pitfall 5: I read somewhere that video/podcasts/Facebook Live/IG TV/insert new marketing trend here are popular therefore I should do it

Pump the breaks. Content without a strategy, distribution plan and an audience (or worse, all three) is just content – and that kind of content isn’t king.

We see a lot of copycat syndrome in our industry, which is a marketing trend that baffles us.

Social media favours original thinking and ideas – so unless you’re replicating a really cool idea borrowed from another industry, copying a competitor doesn’t make much sense to us.

When it comes to stepping up your digital game, ask yourself first if you’ve #nailed the foundations. If you’re still struggling to find time for the basics like still images and single videos – there’s no harm in the KISS theory. There’s plenty of very successful social media accounts with more than 1 million followers who only post still images, taken from an iPhone, every couple of days.

If you’re #pro level and have your content firing from all cylinders, then sure, it’s time to level up to new content formats – lives, Tik Tok, Snapchat etc – provided you’re still delivering your customers quality rather than quantity content.

The solution:

  • Before investing in production of any videos, ask yourself what its purpose is? Is it emotional? Educational? To drive sales? Or are you doing it because you saw someone else make an About Us video?
  • If you want to copy someone – why not ask them if it worked and if it made any difference to their bottom line. If it didn’t, maybe consider why you’re about to do it
  • Really question whether you’re ready to step up to new forms of content. If you struggle to post on your current channels four times a week, do you really think you’ll have time to record that podcast?

Pitfall 6: I had my website built 2/5/10 years ago and now you’re telling me it’s not enough?

We hate to break it to you, but just like a car your website needs constant tweaks too. Your website is the last thing you should set and forget, given it’s your welcome mat to your business and for most customers, their first point of contact with you.

You should put your website in for a tune-up at least every year (if you can run to it – we suggest doing it a lot more than that!) – to update plug-ins, run back ups and test everything is working.

It’s also important you talk to your web-developer about ways you can improve your site as both the capability of websites changes along with the way consumers interact with websites.

There’s always new updates to be made as the internet-ether comes to terms with security and privacy. One such change is adding an SSL certificate to make your page ‘Secure’ for Google. So many businesses we work with have not yet implemented this step and it has major impacts on how Google ranks your site, making all your good work on social media and blog posts for nothing.

The solution:

  • Listen to customer feedback about your site and ask friends and family for critical assessment of your website, particularly the functionality
  • Ask yourself if the words, images and videos used on your site explain what you do? And do they capture attention?
  • Critically ask – are the images, fonts, and design of the site modern/fresh/funky? Because just as you can spot a pair of stone-wash jeans that would have been cool in the 80s, your customer can spot a website that was built in 2002.

Taking control of your digital marketing shouldn’t be difficult. In fact, all of the steps above are easy and can be actioned in an afternoon when you have the right suppliers on your side.

If you’ve tried troubleshooting using the above but are still getting nowhere, our Content Crew are only an email away – hello@mediamortar.com.au.

If we’ve missed a pitfall you think you’ve fallen victim to, drop us a line or comment below and we’ll send you our solution.

By Hannah Statham

Hannah Statham is The Boss at Media Mortar. She’s a heavy weight wordsmith, punching with puns, analogies and metaphors that leave readers wanting more. When she’s not refreshing her Instagram feed, you’ll find Hannah walking her rescue greyhound Olivia.