6 common SME marketing mistakes to watch out for

Posted by john in Company news, Marketing.


Have you been carrying out marketing activity, but are struggling to see any return on investment from what you’ve been doing?

Chances are you’ve being caught out by one of these six common marketing mistakes:


MISTAKE 1: Lack of strategic thinking

A lot of SMEs carry out some form of marketing without having a clear strategy that contains all of the component parts in place first. While other SMEs deliver marketing activity on an ad hoc basis without taking the time to plan what they’re going to do first.

A marketing strategy will enable you to position your offering and deliver your message in a way that’s most effective for your given target audience. Do you know your target markets? What’s your positioning and what are the key benefits for choosing your product or service over the competition?

Not having an actual marketing strategy can prove wasteful for your marketing spend and be detrimental to your business on the whole. Taking a scattergun approach to your marketing that’s not supported by a dedicated strategy will produce outputs that aren’t targeted or relevant. It’ll also generate the wrong type of leads and inconsistent results – if any results at all.


MISTAKE 2: Little or no ownership

Like most business owners, SME owners are time-poor and can’t afford to appoint a dedicated marketing person. This often means that they tend to dip in and out of their marketing when they get the chance. It can also result in their marketing activity getting delegated to numerous people across the organisation and nobody truly owning it or taking accountability for progressing it.

Marketing is a specialism and needs to be treated that way. You wouldn’t ask somebody who’s not an accountant to do your books, would you? The same principle applies to your marketing. It needs to be owned and applied by the same person/people, ideally somebody with marketing skills and experience.

Having somebody who’s accountable for your marketing not only ensures things get done, but it also allows for more structured and efficient campaigns. If you’re unable to hire a marketing professional or don’t want to take the risk of hiring somebody who’s more affordable with less experience, the best solution is to seek external support, as you can tap into experience at an affordable price without a long term commitment.


MISTAKE 3: Failing to test or measure activity

This is one of the most common mistakes made by SMEs. They’re so busy pushing out their marketing that they’ve overlooked the other component part of effective marketing – the review and refine stage. Even worse, they haven’t realised that this element goes hand-in-hand with achieving success with their marketing.

How are you supposed to know what’s worked and what hasn’t worked if you haven’t taken the time to evaluate your activity? While it might be yet another thing to have to do, it’s fundamental to helping you ascertain what to continue with, what to scrap and what to refine.

As an SME it’s crucial you spend your money wisely, testing and measuring your activity can help you reduce overspend on your marketing budget. If something isn’t providing the desired results then look to refine what you’re doing within that specific channel and try again – however if it continues to prove costly, then stop doing it and invest in the areas that are working.


MISTAKE 4: Not understanding the financials

We’re talking about marketing here, so I bet you’re thinking why bring finances into it? Many businesses make the mistake of looking at their sales activity separately to their marketing activity. This is an approach that should be avoided at all costs as it’ll only result in two sets of outputs that don’t enhance or complement each other.

Marketers who understand the financials of the business are much better placed to ensure that their marketing yields the best and right results. For instance, will getting 100 more orders make you money or should you be focusing on selling 15 of your other products instead?

There are a number of financial metrics that need to be understood, including the average value of transactions, average lifetime client spend, frequency of purchase and how long a client is likely to stay with your business on average. Having a grasp of these figures will allow you to gauge how much each client is worth to your business and how much you should be spending on marketing to acquire them.


MISTAKE 5: Lack of consistency

In order to achieve tangible results, marketing needs to be applied strategically (as we explained in point one) and consistently. However, many SMEs tend to fall into the trap of carrying out marketing activity that lacks any consistency – in both the activity and messaging.

Rather than review and refine their activity if they don’t see quick results or wait for their marketing campaigns to come to fruition, many SMEs simply stop what they’re doing and switch to something else, whether that’s issuing an email one week or sending out a direct mailer the following.

Taking such an inconsistent approach will result in your target audience being bombarded with the wrong messages at the wrong time, few results and wasted marketing spend.


MISTAKE 6: Not having an effective sales process

According to the Harvard Business Review, around 60% of business opportunities alone are lost through the lack of a structured follow up. Without a sale, a business has no reason to exist, yet sales are often left almost to chance or rely heavily on individual personalities within the SME world.

An effective sales process not only ensures that enquiries are dealt with efficiently, but helps quickly identify those that have the greatest chance of turning into orders or customers. It also helps weed out the ‘tyre kickers’ that clog up so many businesses because they’re never actually going to convert into buyers.

The most effective sales processes are those that take a step-by-step approach to nurturing potential customers as they make their way along the buyer journey. Each stage has specific accountabilities and actions to ensure that leads are converted into customers as efficiently and effectively as possible.


Marketing is a skilled profession that can help you create widespread awareness, generate enquiries and ultimately grow your business. Working with marketing experts who specialise in working with SMEs and can provide you with a clear strategy and activity schedule will help you realise the full benefits that marketing can bring.

For example, we helped one of our clients, Kemps Architectural Lighting, generate more than £300,00 in invoiced orders and £1.5million in live opportunities through social and email activity alone. This involved reviewing their existing activity and providing them with a strategy and activity schedule that was targeted and relevant, regular and consistent.

Got any questions or want to discuss your marketing requirements with us? Contact us on 0113 394 4559 or

Alternatively, if you already have a marketing strategy in place and want to know how it’s performing, take our free marketing health check. It takes just two minutes to complete.

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