Marketing a small business is an exciting and daunting task. There are countless choices as to how you spend your marketing budget online, and campaigns that were effective several months ago may suddenly lose their potency. A strategy that worked for reaching one set of customers may fail to reach another.

Poorly planned marketing efforts or half-baked campaigns have the potential to be nearly as damaging as no marketing at all (just ask Pepsi). But even if you’re an established business that has previously gone through the effort of mapping out a marketing strategy, it is crucial to revisit your marketing to check its effectiveness and investigate whether there are other avenues you can venture into. There may even be marketing mistakes you made when you first started your business that you can now improve as well as campaigns that have proven themselves ineffective that may be eliminated altogether.

If your marketing efforts aren’t yielding the results you had hoped for or have slowly tapered off, you’re probably wondering:

What am I doing wrong?

1. You’re using the same marketing plan you had in place when you started your business. By now, you probably know a lot more about your product, services, and sales model than when you started your business. Additionally, new marketing styles and systems are being developed every day, so if you find yourself in a rut with your old marketing plan and your marketing is not driving new customers or sales, now is the time to look at some new marketing strategies. Assessing your current marketing strategy and updating it to match your target customers, where you find them, and messages that match your current value proposition can greatly improve the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

2. You’re not paying attention to what your competition is up to. Many small businesses are reluctant to look at their competitors’ marketing efforts. For some business owners, it is an anxiety inducing exercise to see what other companies, often in a better market position with more resources, are doing. Other business owners may be resistant to the idea that their competitors may have valuable ideas worth emulating. It’s important to take an unbiased look at your competitor’s successful strategies and to learn from their failures. It can help guide you in the decisions you make for your own business. A simple analysis can get you started. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated; you can simply use a whiteboard or a sketch pad. The point is to give yourself an overall picture of your current marketing efforts and opportunities to do business in comparison with your competition. Look at your competitor’s website with BuiltOn’s free tool. It will show you what they are using for emails, contact forms, plugins, advertising, and a whole list of other things.

3. You’re not tracking data on your successes or failures. You can update your marketing plan and sales strategy, but if you aren’t keeping track of what’s working and what’s not, then it won’t do you much good. There are many metric tracking sites available. Many are based on a monthly subscription and help with automating your social media as well. Google Analytics, however, is the best free and widely-used option. It offers an abundance of information and tools. By tracking your data, you’ll find out which marketing campaigns are yielding the results you want and which are underperforming. This includes identifying the people responding to your marketing efforts (it might surprise you); the effectiveness of varying versions of the ads you are running; and figuring out the times that your audience is most likely to engage with your social media postings. You need to know the sources of your web traffic, the composition of your audience, and how much of your traffic converts to sales. Test the effectiveness of your marketing channels and adjust accordingly. Is your blog not increasing company visibility? Revisit the subject matter you are writing about or increase the platforms on which you share your blog. If your business’ LinkedIn page isn’t leading to as much customer engagement as you had hoped, try posting different content or focus more of your efforts on a different social media network

The Bottom Line:

Many businesses fail for lack of customers.

Marketing is critical for ensuring that your business does not suffer this fate. It’s important that somebody in your business is dedicated to offering marketing assistance or improving and expanding your marketing efforts. If you don’t have the time or the resources to dedicate to marketing operations, there are affordable and qualified marketing professionals who can help jumpstart or improve your company’s marketing.