200,000 people will make at least one of these big marketing mistakes

Small business is big news in Ireland.

Big, big news.

Most businesses in Ireland slot into the category small-to-medium sized enterprises or SME’s. Of these SME’s, 90% are very small indeed, with 1-10 employees.

They still employ over half of the country’s population.

That’s probably one person to handle billing, accounts, taxes, inventory, audits, government regulations and marketing. If you take on staff, that grows to include payroll, training, hiring and firing and more taxes. And small business owners are used to taking on challenges.

My parents have been running small businesses their entire lives: Shoe shop, betting shop, pub, coffee shop, and guesthouse. They’re such serial entrepreneurs that they ran the shoe and the betting businesses consecutively in the same shop.

I know that if you are the owner or founder, it’s doesn’t get any more personal.

47% of SME’s handle their own marketing. When they think of it.

That’s Marketing. Without which, your customers won’t get to know about you. Not a good thing to put on the long finger.

You can do anything, small business, but you can’t do everything.

Over the next 3 years, businesses will spend 33% of their marketing budget on digital marketing. That spend isn’t because digital marketing is trendy. That’s because there’s a good return – if your do it right.

A small business will make at least one of these big marketing mistakes

Not using social media to its full potential (and only ⅔ are using it at all)

Getting a lot of likes or followers is all-important if you’re 16 but a business needs more of a strategy. Content is what powers social media. You need to have a constant supply of fresh, relevant content if your business is to carve out a niche as an expert in your field. Check out a competitor who’s doing well on social media. You’ll probably see a lot of “how to” articles, “top tips” pieces and positive customer stories.

Talking about yourself

Think about what your customers want before you spend one cent or one minute of precious time on marketing. Your customers don’t care about your brand, not unless you’re Coca-Cola or Versace. They care about how your business can benefit them. Don’t assume that price is always the number one driving force for your customer. Maybe it’s quality or product features or location. If you can recognize their need or problem, and show how your product or service can help, you’re golden.

Not speaking your customers language

Don’t speak the customer’s language in your marketing and she stops listening. Immediately. The simplest approach is to interview your customers. Use the words, phrases, examples and stories they share. Are your customers looking for guidance, reassurance, status, exclusivity? If you can figure out the emotions driving your customers, that will decide the language you use in your marketing.

Not tracking how your advertising is performing

It’s not enough to create ads and let them run. If you don’t know how well – or not- the ads are performing for you, the money is wasted. 84 percent of businesses don’t track ROI in social media. Every campaign you launch online should use traceable. This could be some type of tracking codes/pixels online or phone numbers or discount codes in print. Most customers don’t mind telling you where they heard about you; so don’t be afraid to ask.

It takes work to figure out your marketing message and your voice. Listen to your customers. They’ll teach you how to speak their language.

One marketing mistake I made, and I hear this one a lot, was rushing into facebook ads before being ready. What are the marketing mistakes you’ve seen or made?

Siobhan O’Shea is a freelance writer. She writes about pretty much everything but especially likes to bring readers’ attention to new tech, marketing, human behavior, and other oddities.