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The 10 Worst Marketing Mistakes Any Small Business Owner Can Make

marketing mistakes

Marketing mistakes can be costly for small businesses. Not only can they lose money, but they can also lose time as they scramble to fix the problem. This article will dive into the common mistakes small business owners make so you can avoid them.

Do you have trouble with things such as driving traffic to your website to build sales or properly delegating tasks to others within your business to increase its productivity?

Odds are, you’re not alone. In fact, many beginning and experienced entrepreneurs alike make seemingly simple marketing mistakes that can cost their company a lot in the long run.

We aren’t just talking about money, either.

We’re talking about lost leads, lost clients, and many other things that are critical to your business’s success.

In some cases, the consequences can even be severe enough to put a small business out of business entirely. As a result, it’s important to take care when planning and executing marketing campaigns.

Even a simple mistake can have serious implications, so it’s important to do your homework and avoid common pitfalls.

By taking the time to do things right, you can help ensure that your marketing efforts are successful and that your small business remains on solid footing.

Let’s dive into the 10 most common marketing mistakes that founders make (and how to avoid them), shall we?

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase. This helps me pay to keep this site going and to bring all these free resources to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Marketing Mistake #1: Doing Too Much Too Soon

marketing mistakes

When it comes to marketing, there really isn’t a simple way to address the entirety of your business’s needs.

Trying to tackle too many parts of your marketing plan at once can derail your company from the beginning and can overwhelm you and your team.

Getting overwhelmed from the beginning is never a good thing, especially if your team is just you.

Marketing Mistake #2: Shiny Object Syndrome

shiny object syndrome

As an entrepreneur, you’re probably quite motivated. Motivation isn’t a bad thing unless it becomes a distraction.

If your motivation causes you to jump from new tools and programs without fully testing and using your previous tools to their full advantage, you might have a distracting condition that plagues many marketers: Shiny Object Syndrome.

Imagine a child losing interest in a set of Legos after one year, solely because a new type of toy arrives in his/her favorite toy store which looks much more appealing.

Entrepreneurs experience, to some degree, many situations like this. At its extreme, Shiny Object Syndrome can cause:

  • Poor planning
  • Poor communication between team members
  • An inability to finish projects

Marketing Mistake #3: No Plan


Planning is, by far, one of the most critical components of a well-executed start-up.

If there isn’t any plan to tie in all the aspects of your company’s marketing together, however, the wheels will quickly fall off of their axles.

You can’t, in the world of marketing, expect to spontaneously carry out specific tasks without any direction.

Related: 5 reasons why using a content strategy will make you more effective

“If you put more planning into your shopping list than you are your marketing then you’ve got a problem.”

Marketing Mistake #4: No Budget


Not having an appropriate budget or any budget at all can throw your business off a cliff, even in its beginning stages when there may not be very much money to work with.

Not planning on what you spend your money on can quickly cause confusion, frustration, and lack of motion within your startup.

“Not having a marketing budget can throw your business off a cliff.”

Marketing Mistake #5. No Data


Tangible data that can benefit your company can provide a hugely advantageous edge to your startup.

The opposite can be assumed from businesses who don’t gather data smartly from the time they start to the time they hit the competitive market.

Data needs to be gathered and it needs to be meaningful. Otherwise, you’re risking having a rough ride during your business’s beginning stages.

While successful data collection can often be tricky and time-consuming from the start, there are plenty of ways to do it.

Related: 10 Popular Tools for Measuring Digital Marketing Performance

Marketing Mistake #6: No Time

no time

Having too much on your plate, not having enough help, too much to do…

All of these things point to one mistake that many business founders and entrepreneurs make: they don’t have enough time to accomplish their goals.

Make more time. Don’t try and accomplish a task that’s going to exceed the available time you have in a day.

If you have less time to allocate to each marketing task that you need to perform, chances are that you’ll probably perform each task in a way that produces work of lower quality.

Want to free up more time? Then you’ll need to either delegate, automate, defer or delete.

Time is a non-renewable resource, so invest it wisely.

Related: Let It Go – What, When & How to Outsource (Delegate) for Business Growth

Marketing Mistake #7: No Team/Lack of Team Trust

lack of team trust

You might possess the brilliant nucleus of an idea that many entrepreneurs possess: creativity.

Can you, however, rely on just yourself to accomplish things that may be slightly outside of your comfort zone?

The answer: maybe not.

Even if you have experience in several other relevant and useful areas (i.e. email marketing, graphics, SEO, content creation), it’s best to find others to take some of the responsibility off of your shoulders.

This marketing mistake, unlike many of the others, is one of the easiest mistakes to catch before you make it.

Find the team you need to get your marketing on track (or hire someone who’s got access to a team). After all, everyone’s human.

Marketing Mistake #8: No/Little Automation For Sales Follow Ups


When you get your business started for the first time, you’ll undoubtedly be scrambling for leads, data, and sales.

All this scrambling can lead to haste, which can lead to fewer sales call follow-ups. This is often a matter of time (or lack thereof) with most marketers/entrepreneurs.

The time issues, however, can be prevented by automating or delegating sales follow-ups.

In other words, you can consolidate leads and improve your business’s conversion rates by using a program or application that automates follow-up reminders, calls, emails, or messages.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are great for tracking sales conversations, follow-ups, and opportunities. If you’re just starting out we recommend something like Salesflare.

Additionally, email marketing is one of the easiest yet most overlooked ways to market your product or service.

It’s also one of the easiest channels of communication to practice automated follow-ups whilst marketing your business’s product or service.

Setting up an automated email nurture sequence to turn leads into prospects and customers will save you a tonne of time.

For example, here’s one automated nurture sequence we set up for a client inside their email software:

sme email drip series

The beauty of this is that we built it once, and it now runs automatically every single time a prospect signs up for the relevant freebie offer (aka. lead magnet) presented on our client’s website.

If you’re wondering what email software to use, we’re using Convertkit and recommend it for its ease of use and pricing. However, if you’re looking for something with more oomph, check out Activecampaign as it is a combined email + CRM platform.

Marketing Mistake #9: No Team (Fear of Reaching Out)

business team

You might have gotten to where you are by flying solo (or with a co-founder) but to get where you want to go will often require growing the team and capacity of the business to serve more clients, partners, and products & services.

Listen to master business strategist Tim Dwyer share his expert insights to find out how to build capacity in your business (this is a MUST-listen for all founders and CEOs).

Marketing Mistake #10: Fear of Giving Up Control


Setting up a business to where it’s successful takes one type of skillset. Carrying out proper marketing campaigns, producing content, and procuring SEO-friendly web pages takes other skill sets.

One marketing mistake that often plagues many founders of companies is the desire to attempt to juggle all of these tasks on their own.

It’s known as the “fear of giving up control”.

This is a just fear; you’re the reason that your company is successful in the first place. Why should you trust its growth in the hands of someone who doesn’t have the same amount of time or emotion invested in it?

Fear is a big bad block and it affects many founders. Oftentimes this is an emotionally driven decision, not a rational one. Founders are resilient and dynamic people, and you have to be in order to build and grow a successful business, however, they can easily spread themselves too thin. So they end up doing things like trying to craft, develop and execute their own marketing campaigns whilst juggling everything else they’ve got going on.

That is normal, but if you’re not a specialist in marketing then this can impede your growth tremendously.

The answer is simple: you can’t do everything on your own, especially if you want your business to scale.

Be humble – hire professionals who can lift the load off of you. Not being a specialist in a certain area while trying to work in said areas can impede the growth of your business.

Fast track by bringing on board a marketing expert with great experience who has a team to help execute. A virtual CMO could be the right person for your business.

Related: 11 Reasons to add a Virtual CMO to your Marketing Team

Everyone Makes Mistakes…

Sometimes, however, business doesn’t present us with second chances. Marketing mistakes can be costly.

They can also be avoided. Avoiding them can make sure that your startup’s boat stays afloat in stormy weather.

Marketing may not be the only important facet of a successful start to a business, but it’s certainly a large part of it.

What’s challenging you right now, and what’s your next step towards solving it? Let us know in the comments below. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have too.

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