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“A small business is not a ‘little’ big business.” | Source: Freepik
“A small business is not a ‘little’ big business.” | Source: Freepik

Promotional mistakes your business should avoid

Placing your business in a position to succeed online can be a headache. BRIDGET BROWN reveals the digital marketing pitfalls small businesses should avoid.

“A small business is not a ‘little’ big business.”

This adage comes from executive leadership coach John Welsh, and I couldn’t agree more. Every small business owner knows on some level that ‘small business’ marketing is different from ‘big business’ marketing; however, it can be challenging to define precisely why.

This is partly because most marketing advice implies, we should mirror what the most successful big businesses are doing.

For example, the best practices for building a website, running a promotion, and using social media are all based on the model that works for the ‘most successful’ businesses.

This is something to remember if you’re a small business owner wondering whether you should jump on the latest marketing bandwagon. Marketers don’t tell you, or perhaps don’t realise themselves, that ‘success’ does not mean immediate massive sales increases.

First, many small businesses have struggled when increases happened faster than they could handle. Only some small stores want to become Amazon! Even if that is your dream, you must be aware of three small business marketing mistakes that could get in your way.

What got you here won’t get you there

It’s not a good plan to use Apple’s best practices for marketing your small business.

That’s because you need to succeed at being a small business first. It’s like that old expression, “what got you here won’t get you there.”

"Many people struggle to gain traction on platforms like YouTube, TikTok or Instagram for small business marketing. Do you ever ask yourself why you’re trying so hard to beat the algorithms."

I had a brief experience at a large marketing agency when I first left television. I was working with a customer with a new product set to appear at an LA gifting suite at an upcoming event.

She wanted press releases sent to Vogue, Refinery29, and even Paris Hilton. Not Hilton’s company, mind you – she wanted it to be sent to Paris personally!

I suggested holding off on the LA press push until she had sales. I believed her time and money would be better spent by getting credible media attention in her city, before trying to out-compete every Hollywood starlet with a beauty line.

I had no doubt she could be very successful, but I wasn’t surprised when she didn’t get a single media appearance from her press release. She hadn’t done the hard work of building a fan base before trying to embrace the most competitive attention.

Blindly following trends

Many people need help trying to gain traction on platforms like YouTube, TikTok or Instagram for small business marketing.

Do you ever ask yourself why you’re trying so hard to beat the algorithms?

While focusing on the sheer volume of enquiries can work for small business marketing, it is optional for small business marketing and can be a significant waste of time.

Fast expansion is almost always terrible for small businesses. Let’s be honest: if everyone who went to Tiffany & Co. today called your business, it would be impossible for you to handle the sudden traffic, and you’d likely end up angering your existing customers.

Focusing on the ‘trying to beat the algorithm’ point, in small business marketing, you have a choice whether you chase social media success.

That’s because no matter what you do, you won’t beat the Tiffany & Co. of your industry. At least, not yet.

You could view that as a negative, but you could also see it as a relief. Often, we focus so hard on using a particular trendy tactic that we don’t stop to consider if there is an easier and more effective way that suits small business marketing.

The Amazon Prime Day fallacy

Attempting to replicate the Amazing Prime Day strategy will do more harm than good to your business.

The first year Amazon offered Prime Day, I didn’t find a single thing that was excellent value. It seemed like a plot to drive traffic. My trust level for Amazon was lower than ever.

We know that in the grand scheme of things, Amazon loses very little by losing my trust. However, as small business owners, we both need our audience to stick around. Chances are you need a much higher percentage of your leads to convert to sales than Amazon does.

If one potential customer in your target audience is bothered by a marketing tactic you choose, that is a more significant problem for your business than it would be to Amazon.

Instead of offering your jewellery at a shady ‘discount’ price, it makes more sense to put the effort and expense into your search engine results performance and your mobile web speed.

If your website is sluggish, you might lose the opportunity to connect with one specific customer who could really make a difference for your business.

Each individual visitor is important, yet many small businesses don’t make that their priority.

More reading:
Your business desperately needs you to get proactive!
Is your business really future-proofed?
Leadership in business: Look who’s talking!
Diving deep into the personality traits of great business leaders
Prepare your business to face the expected unexpected



Bridget Brown

Contributor • Create That Copy & Marketing

Bridget Brown is founder of Create That Copy & Marketing, a Canadian marketing firm focused on generating leads and increasing sales and revenue for small businesses. Visit:

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