5 Costly Marketing Mistakes

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You've probably spent tons of time and money bringing your business to life. The next step is to promote it. Before you launch a marketing campaign, be sure to check out the following five common marketing mistakes new businesses often make—and protect your hard work by avoiding them.

1. Missing Your Target Market

Before you can market your service or product, you need to determine your target audience and how best to reach it. When traditional advertising failed to penetrate the 20-something segment a major health insurer was targeting, they took to the slopes, reaching the snowboarding crowd, and their friends, at the bottom of the trails. Knowing your audience is the first step toward marketing to them.

2. Omitting a Web Presence

Let's face it: Most people use the Internet to find businesses and services. Don't overlook the benefits of a website, no matter how basic. Also, be sure to take advantage of free or low-cost online promotional opportunities. These can include e-newsletters, profiles on social networking sites, and a client-focused blog.

3. Celebrating Instead of Calibrating

When your first ad runs, it's tempting to raise a glass and celebrate how far you've come. But marketing is only the first step. Measuring the Return on Investment (ROI) of your efforts is essential. If you're running online ads, how are the click-through rates? If you've run a print ad in a weekly newspaper, measure any increase in sales due to the ad. Figure out a way to track leads and clients so that you're only investing in the outlets that attract new business or otherwise help your brand.

4. Blending in with the Competition

If you can't project a clear idea of how your business is better than the competition, your customers won't have any reason to choose you over the others. Are you the cheapest in the business? Is your product the most exclusive? Do you only use organic ingredients? Your clients need to know what makes your company special—and why they should spend their money with you.

5. Clouding a Clear Brand Identity

If the White House was suddenly orange, Nike sports heroes declared "Just don't do it," or Toyota started advertising a new gas-guzzling Prius model, it would be a bit confusing. That's because these examples radically alter those brands' identities. Consistency is key when it comes to what your brand stands for. Once you've established an image for your business, be consistent in how you present it. Use the same message, images, colors, fonts, etc., so your brand identity is consistent and your customers can easily recognize it and know what to expect.

Marketing is a necessary part of a successful business, but doing it right isn't always easy. You will have to experiment to see what works best for your business, but remembering these top marketing mistakes can help you avoid any serious marketing mishaps.