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10 Common Marketing Mistakes to Avoid - posted 7/20/07
By AllBusiness.com

A good marketing plan can help launch a new business or grow an existing one. Make sure, however, to avoid common marketing mistakes.

Below are a few mistakes to pay attention to and avoid as you market your goods or services:

  1. Not Marketing to a Defined Group: Find your target audience and gear your marketing plan to that audience. Trying to appeal to everyone typically does not work.
  2. Inconsistency in Your Marketing Efforts: You need to have the same look and feel across all of your ads, promotions and overall marketing plan.
  3. Lack of Diversification: Marketing on television, in print or on the Internet alone will reach only a portion of your potential customers. Plan to market creatively through a cross-section of media so that customers become familiar with your brand and your products at different times and in different places.
  4. Not Focusing on Repeat Business: Repeat business typically makes up 80 percent of customers in most businesses. Too often marketing campaigns are heavily focused on bringing in new customers and not building relationships with current ones.
  5. Starting Too Late: Time your marketing campaigns to coincide with new products, new services, seasonal sales or an upcoming event that will attract business. This typically means preparing well in advance.
  6. Not Having a Clear Marketing Message: Marketing messages that are contrived, confusing, too subtle or too long can easily miss the target market entirely. The most ingenious marketing plan is wasted if no one gets it.
  7. Going Overboard: If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Too much hype will turn people away.
  8. Forgetting That Slow and Steady Wins the Race: If you blow your entire marketing budget on a Super Bowl ad, then what can you do next? Marketing means building a reputation over time through ongoing exposure.
  9. Not Getting Feedback: Test your marketing ideas and do focus groups. Don't launch it without getting some feedback first.
  10. Making a Change for the Sake of It: Just because you are tired of your marketing plan doesn't mean it isn't working. Too many marketers make changes because they think they have too. Often a tried and true formula will keep working.

Get more tips on Marketing and Advertising, from Market Research to Online and Internet Marketing on AllBusiness.com. AllBusiness.com provides resources to help small and growing businesses start, manage, finance and expand their business. Copyright © 1999 - 2007 AllBusiness.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Small Business Advertising Basics - posted 7/20/07
By AllBusiness.com

In the broadest sense, anything that promotes your business might be considered advertising, whether it's a radio spot, a brochure or a trade show booth. But the term "advertising" usually refers to paid commercial messages in newspapers, magazines, radio, television, the Yellow Pages or outdoor advertising. Here's a rundown of the key media:

Newspapers are an inexpensive way to reach a mass audience. They're flexible and good for price advertising -- promoting a sale or a special deal on your product or service. Newspapers carry a lot of ads, however, so there's a risk that yours may get lost in the clutter.
Magazines offer a slightly better opportunity to catch a reader's attention than newspapers do, but they typically cost more. Magazines are good for promoting your company's image and building its credibility. Trade magazines and general business publications are worthwhile for business-to-business advertising.
Radio is a relatively low-cost, high-impact choice for local advertising. It's one of the best ways to reach a targeted market, but costs are slightly higher than for print ads. Repetition is especially important in radio advertising.
Television advertising is extremely high-impact, but it's expensive to buy spots on major networks. Cable channels that will air your ad in select markets are more affordable.
Yellow Pages advertising isn't cheap, but it delivers hot prospects -- people who are ready to buy. It's a good choice for local and area-specific businesses.
Outdoor advertising offers high visibility, and the cost per viewer is relatively low. But outdoor ads -- billboards and transit ads -- are best used in conjunction with other forms of advertising.

Before you advertise in any medium, think about what your business does. Consider your target market, your competitive position, and what sets your business apart, along with the key benefits of your product or service. Advertising shouldn't focus on features, but on benefits -- what your product or service will do for the customer. Your audience wants to know what's in it for them.

Repetition is the golden rule of advertising. One-shot ads seldom work. In fact, research indicates that the average consumer ignores two out of three ads and requires nine exposures before readily remembering an ad. That means you have to run your ad several dozen times to make an impact. Advertising has a cumulative effect; it takes time to get results. When it does, make sure you have the inventory and staff to handle increased demand.

And don't spread yourself too thin. Try one advertising medium at a time, and give it a chance to work. It's better to be dominant in one medium than to have a minimal presence in many.

Remember, an ad campaign is just one part of a larger marketing effort. To effectively promote your business, use an integrated approach that combines advertising with public relations, direct mail, special events, trade shows, newsletters, brochures and other marketing materials.

Get more tips on Marketing and Advertising, from Market Research to Online and Internet Marketing on AllBusiness.com. AllBusiness.com provides resources to help small and growing businesses start, manage, finance and expand their business. Copyright © 1999 - 2007 AllBusiness.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved.