6 Ways SMBs Waste Money on Marketing (& How to Avoid Them)

If you’re like most small business owners, your marketing budget is limited. Regardless of whether you focus on social media, blogging, or guest posting, you don’t have thousands to flush down the drain on faulty marketing.

If you’re like so many small businesses, though, the chances that you’re wasting money on marketing are immense. Even if you’re not making blatant marketing mistakes, the possibility that you’re using your budget ineffectually is large.

Luckily, this doesn’t have to be the status quo.

To help you learn how you can reduce waste and make your marketing budget work harder, we’ve compiled a list of the six most common ways SMBs waste money on marketing, and how you can avoid them.

1. Get to know your audience

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Knowing your audience is one of the most critical factors of good marketing.

When you take the time to build detailed audience personas, you understand your audience on a deeply personal level. You know who they are, how old they are, where they live, what their priorities are and how you can help them lead better lives.

If you don’t take the time to answer these questions, you’ll waste money creating content that’s not as targeted as it should be. Consequently, this content won’t hit home with your audience as hard as it should.

To avoid this fate in your company, use the Buffer template below to create your first marketing persona. Don’t forget to add new personas as needed to cover your various other audience segments.

2. Running massive (one-off) ad pushes

If you’re going to advertise, advertising on a consistent, targeted basis is much more valuable than running one-off ad pushes.  It costs a huge amount to run effective PPC ad campaigns. Because of this, SMBs with limited budgets are much better off utilizing inbound marketing tactics, like social media and blogging, to “advertise” their company.

If you can’t stay away from PPC, take this tip from Entrepreneur: Test your campaign with a budget of less than $1,000. If it doesn’t perform well at that level, it’s highly unlikely that it will perform with a larger budget, either.

3. Taking on too many different platforms

You can’t be everywhere at once. Because of this, SMBs that blog for ten different guest sites, publish content on their own sites, run PPC campaigns, create social content, and launch a webinar are inefficient and ineffective.

With this in mind, focus on the most promising and lucrative platforms first. Think of it this way: there’s always time to expand out into other streams as your company grows (and you develop the marketing team needed to stand up to the content demand), but taking on too much too early is a sure-fire way to waste your marketing budget in all of the wrong places, and burn yourself out in the process.

4. Not investing in content

While many SMBs believe that Google AdWords is the way to build an online following, the fact of the matter is that it’s really hard and really, really expensive to run an effective AdWords campaign as a small business.

What’s not hard, however, is creating content. Every brand has a unique voice, a unique approach to a set of problems, and a unique customer base that’s hungry for information. With this in mind, creating social content, blog posts, quality web pages, and unique visuals are some of the best and most effective ways for small businesses to build an online presence and provide genuine value to readers.

While content has many benefits, the most notable are as follows:

  • It’s cost-efficient. Inbound-generated leads cost approximately 62% less than outbound leads, and they’re much more qualified.
  • Content supports your other marketing pursuits. Want to build an active social media presence or boost your local SEO? Content supports both of these things and can serve to uplift and enhance your other marketing strategies across the board.
  • Content helps you be competitive. Companies who blog earn 67% more leads than companies who don’t. In the world of small business, this can spell a serious competitive advantage that may give you the boost you need to outshine similar companies.

With these things in mind, it’s clear that content is an effective marketing avenue for small businesses, and that businesses who aren’t investing heavily in it are likely using their marketing budgets less efficiently than possible.

5. Failing to re-evaluate your marketing strategy yearly (or more often)

Depending on how fast your company is growing, you’ll need to re-evaluate your marketing strategy on a frequent basis. In addition to preventing you from making easily preventable content mistakes, this approach also ensures that you’re meeting your audiences in the right places at the right times and that you’re allocating your marketing budget to the areas that will have the most impact.

To ensure that your content keeps working for you, take the time each year, or a few times a year, to determine which types of content are getting the most traction, which platforms your customers prefer, and what your clients want to see more of (based on polls, comments, and social media interactions). Once you’ve gathered all of this information, apply it to your marketing strategy and adjust the pieces that need it.

6. Expecting inbound marketing to function well overnight

While inbound marketing is a powerful tool, it’s not an overnight track to success. Here at Proline, it’s not uncommon for it to take weeks or even months for a post on the blog to draw a customer. This is true for companies across the board.

With this in mind, try not to rush your marketing strategy. All good things take time, and pushing it too fast places you at an increased risk of allocating your resources poorly, and giving up too soon.

Don’t Waste Money on Marketing Any Longer

While SMB marketing is a learn-as-you-go process, these six simple mistakes can cost you much more than is necessary. By being proactive about avoiding these simple pitfalls, you can keep your company’s marketing budget intact, and ensure the ongoing success of all of your marketing campaigns.