Marketing 101: 3 Small Business Marketing Mistakes To Avoid

When it comes to marketing there is a lot of confusion and misperceptions out there…especially for those of us who remember the days before the internet like it was yesterday. Destroying those old tapes playing in our minds and realizing that what marketing meant to us growing up isn’t what marketing means today is hard! So, as part of our ongoing marketing 101 series and related craft maker online course we’re going to bust 3 of the most common marketing myths that can really hold small businesses back if left unchecked.

Marketing 101: Marketing Definition

Marketing 101 - Developing marketing strategy to avoid common small business marketing mistakes

Before we can bust any marketing myths we have to make sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to our marketing definition. You see, there are A LOT of marketing definitions out there. And to be honest, most of them get it right to some degree but there are often specific elements left out that we, here at The Crafty Cask, find to be important. So our working marketing definition is:

Understanding yourself & consumers so you can build relationships in a way that delivers the right message, at the right time, in the right place to drive awareness, consideration, purchase, or loyalty.

There’s a lot going on in that definition, but those are the key elements that we find critical to truly understanding what marketing today is so you can bring it to life effectively. It’s all about building relationships, and the only way you can build relationships is if you understand your own brand story, brand voice, and target consumer. Once you do that you’ll be able to deliver the right message at the right time, in the right place to achieve one of those four outcomes listed. And being clear on the result you are trying to drive is essential if you want to measure the results of your marketing so you can do more of what’s working, optimize the things that are off, and stop wasting time on the marketing activities that aren’t working at all.

Marketing 101: Marketing Myths Definition

Now that we all have the same marketing definition in mind, what is our marketing myths definition?

A marketing myth is a widely held, but false belief or idea about marketing generally rooted in an assumption, past experience or story. 

As with any myths, marketing myths can either mislead you or hold you back from exploring or taking action on things that may feel contrary to that myth. Which often leads to wasted resources, both in terms of time and money, for subpar results. As small business owners and craft makers I KNOW you don’t have time for that! So let’s jump into 3 of the most commonly held marketing myths that lead to entirely avoidable small business marketing mistakes.

Marketing Myths: Marketing And Sales Are One And The Same

Back in the days where marketing was a one-way conversation and there were very few opportunities to get in front of your consumer every marketing message had to sell. So early marketing was very focused on getting that one “buy now” message across with every piece of marketing. And even as far back as 1885 the book Successful Advertising indicated that it would take the average consumer 20 times of seeing that sales-y marketing message before they would take action.

While multiple exposures and consistent interaction with your target consumers is still the name of the game, today the last thing you want to be seen as is a pushy, “buy now” hawker. Marketing 101 at its most basic. Why? Because the control has shifted. Brands used to be in control…now consumers are in control. And the best brands let them be, encourage them to be and welcome them to their tribe before ever even trying to sell them a thing. It’s a two-way conversation with a focus on building a relationship first, and making a sale later, once you have that relationship. It’s a longer road, but it’s a worthy one if you want to build a strong, successful brand.

Now, when it comes to more classic sales related to this marketing myth…getting new accounts, gaining distribution points, and other business to business tactics it’s important to note that sales is a very specific skill set and distinct from marketing. While good marketing will certainly help drive sales, they are fundamentally different. Marketing is about creating relationships to move consumers and buyers down the purchase funnel to the point where they are ready to buy. Sales is focused on those final steps to close the sale. Now, does that mean one person can’t do both? Of course not. Although often it is much more effective to have separate, but highly cooperative marketing and sales roles. If you do need to make it one role early on though, make sure you’re developing marketing and sales skills separately and ensure you have different, but related marketing and sales objectives to drive and measure success.

Marketing Myths: If My Product Is Great I Won’t Need Marketing

If I build it, they will come. Ah, yes…that’s the dream, right? We all wish this was true, and yes, a good product is critically important. But marketing 101 here – spending all of your time and money on the product alone does not mean it will sell. Who will agree with you that it’s good? How will they find out about it? How will they know what it is? Where will they buy it? Why will they choose it over what they are already drinking and enjoy in that category?  

Great product alone is not enough – and for those of you thinking of examples right now of amazing products that just took off like crazy right from the start? Those are the exception, not the rule. And while it may seem like those examples didn’t do any marketing I guarantee if you kicked the tires and looked under the hood a bit you’ll find some crafty, creative marketing that helped catapult their success.

For every one of those seemingly amazing success stories, just think about all of those amazing products that have likely existed out there briefly but we’re never discovered because they weren’t marketed well! These are the small business marketing mistakes we want to avoid. And keep in mind that there are far more of these examples that we never hear about than the handful of rocket ship success stories everyone shares. So let’s not leave the success of our business to chance, shall we? Let’s plan, and budget, and prepare so that when we are ready to sell products we already have an active and engaged audience who is ready to take action.

Marketing Myths: My Marketing Should Be Relevant To The Largest Group Of Consumers Possible

Marketing used to be all about throwing the net wide and reaching as many people at once as possible, even if that meant reaching a lot of people who didn’t care (i.e. weren’t your target consumer). Today’s savvy marketer who’s up to speed on their marketing 101 can reach exactly the type of people who are more likely to love their brand. Which means fewer wasted resources for you and higher relevance and engagement for the consumer. The right message to the right consumer at the right time and in the right place. That’s what it’s all about now.

marketing 101 - marketing myths and small business marketing mistakes are not focusing on your target consumer

So what does that mean? If you’re a whiskey maker, craft whiskey drinkers are NOT your target consumer. That’s too broad. And guess what, every other whiskey maker out there is trying to capture as many of those people as they can too. So it’s also not differentiated enough. The goal here is to find your tribe. Those people who have beliefs, motivations, frustrations, and desires that match up with what your brand stands for and can help them solve. We have a whole Craft Alcohol Marketing Bootcamp course dedicated to identifying and understanding your target consumer to make your marketing both more differentiated from competitors and more effective at driving results. But for now, I just want you understand why a targeted marketing approach vs. a mass marketing approach is the only way to go.

You see, if you try to talk to and appeal to everyone you essentially are talking to and appealing to no one. Because what you are saying in your marketing is too generic, too broad, too vanilla. You have to know your brand story, voice, and target consumer well enough that you can take a stand. Find a consistent voice. Be willing to accept that some people may not like what you stand for or have to say…and that’s ok, because that means they’re not your tribe.

But your tribe? They get you. They connect with you deeply, enjoy hearing from you, and want to support your success by engaging with your brand more meaningfully (i.e. visits, events, and sales!) when there’s an opportunity to do so. This is the beauty of taking the time to build relationships with your consumers. It creates deeper connection, loyalty, and value for both your brand and your consumer.

This small business marketing mistake is a big one, because the nervousness craft makers have about narrowing their audience leads them to keep it too broad which means there’s a lot of waste in the marketing. Wasted time and money getting that message out to people who don’t care and watering the message down too much for the people who would care if you had a more targeted focus on them. And while you’ll focus in on your target consumer your message will halo out to a larger audience…people who have 90%, 75%, 50% overlap with your target consumer in different ways. Your message won’t be as direct of a bullseye for them but it will still resonate. So get clear on who your target consumer is, understand them deeply, and then let your less wasteful, more powerful marketing do the work of growing your brand with your target consumer and beyond.

Say No to These Common Small Business Marketing Mistakes

Easy Way & Hard Way Sign - take the marketing 101 easy way and avoid small business marketing mistakes and marketing myths

There you have it…our top 3 small business marketing mistakes we see holding craft makers back based on common marketing myths. Treating sales and marketing as the same thing, thinking their product is so great they won’t need marketing, and using mass marketing instead of targeted marketing. This last one often stems from the fact that they don’t have a good understanding of their own brand story/voice or they haven’t taken the time to identify and understand their target consumer. Both of these topics are critical marketing foundations that fuel all of your marketing to work harder for you, so while I understand why so many craft makers skip over them (it’s hard work and doesn’t immediately lead to tangible results!) if you’re doing any marketing at all without them your throwing precious time and money away with every marketing activity you put out into the world.

To that end, I’ll leave you with one last tip, which we’ll go deeper on in the article in our Marketing 101 series. You must – MUST – identify which goal you’re chasing each and every time you execute a new marketing tactic. So, what are you trying to do with each marketing effort – drive awareness, consideration, purchase or loyalty? Because you can’t do them all at once effectively. And if you don’t identify your goal up front it will be impossible to measure.

So, pick one, design your marketing around driving the metrics you will measure to define success for that one ONLY. You can look at other metrics – but you only define success of meeting your marketing objective by the metrics associated with the ONE result you originally said you were trying to drive. Don’t miss our next article where we’ll talk marketing planning and share a resource to help you do it for your own business.

Smart marketing planning will help you avoid the small business marketing mistakes that are so damaging, yet so easy to escape with a little understanding. If you’re ready to take that seriously and really improve your marketing understanding for the craft alcohol business your building you can check out our full Marketing 101 course (lots more myth busting, marketing planning & budgeting tips) or our entire 10-course Craft Alcohol Marketing Bootcamp. Learn more about the 12 ways it can help you grow your business. We’re kicking off our next full bootcamp group in March 2020, enroll now to get full bootcamp member bonuses and in time to join us for the live Q&As and craft maker community support as you work through each course.

What marketing myths or beliefs or questions do you have that we can help clear up? Share in the comments below so we can help you and all craft alcohol makers supercharge their success through effective marketing.

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