There’s no doubt that marketing is essential to a growing small business. However, if it’s not done well, it could take the business down.

Most small businesses are fighting to reach customers in very competitive markets, so it’s a no-brainer – marketing is core to a small business’s growth and success.

Even if your marketing isn’t an expensive, flashy powerhouse (and there a plenty of classic, low-budget strategies that do work a treat), unless it is done well and integrated with the rest of the business, that marketing is wasting money and opportunities, and it’s making sales success difficult.

Want to stop wasting money on marketing that shackles your sales reps instead of empowering them? Read on – here are six marketing sins and how to avoid them.

1. You want lots of leads

Marketing activities aren’t just there to gather a great quantity of leads. If quality of leads is not the focus, your team may drown in leads that will never convert.

For example, running a competition with a great prize that’s unrelated to your business’s offering may well gather lots of leads, but lots of those people aren't likely to ever be interested in buying your product or service – just winning the prize.

You would probably be better off with fewer leads that come from people who are in your target market. This means you need to consider where you are most likely to find them and create ways that they can find you too – both online and offline. For example, offering practical, useful content discussing a topic relevant to your target market, in exchange for contact details, qualifies those leads garnered from the campaign.

Make the best use of your resources by directing your marketing efforts towards getting quality leads, then by prioritising them appropriately so the sales team can concentrate on the ones most likely to convert.

2. What is that thing you’re measuring?

Everyone loves to talk about the success of their campaigns. But metrics for marketing success can depend on any number of variables, from what industry you’re in and how mature your business is to what your goals are at that moment in time.

For example, your social media team can spend a lot of time generating likes and shares but, for small businesses, getting money through the door is often what counts. So unless likes and shares equal sales, that social team might be spending time and money on nothing, instead of bringing in good sales leads.

You need to be very clear about your objectives and measure success against achieving these. You need to be able to track leads from every source whether it's email, paid search, social or even offline. And, even more importantly, you need to measure how many of those leads turn into sales, and use that information to continually reshape your marketing plans.

3. Your marketing team follows the leaders, not the leads

Marketing people usually keep an eye on what everyone else in the field is doing. They will often want to be using the latest tactics and techniques, tools and design.

But beautiful-looking campaigns promoting the wrong product, to non-key audiences on the wrong platform will cost money instead of making it. Don't let your marketing team take the lead from competitors, and avoid ‘me too’ campaigns based on those featured in marketing magazines or which individuals find most personally satisfying, interesting or easy.

Marketing needs to take its lead from sales. What does the sales team need help to achieve? What needs to be pushed, when and to whom?

Sales should help marketing be aware of what really matters to customers and prospects, how they make their buying decisions and what makes your product or service stand out from the others available in the market. This kind of information should help them craft the most valuable campaigns – and provide marketing material that works for the sales team.

Once the objectives have been set by sales, marketing needs to marry these with something prospects are looking for and come up with some creative with compelling reasons to buy.

If you separate your marketing team from your sales operation then you'll end up with beautiful marketing campaigns that aren't focused on achieving the right goals. Sales and marketing alignment is key to success.

4. Your leads are mysterious

Context is everything in sales. Understanding where a lead came from can help your sales rep formulate the right pitch to meet a particular need and to understand potential objections.

For example, if a lead comes from a campaign offering a discount, the prospect could be price-sensitive. If someone responds to a campaign about a particular service or product, this reveals the problem they are trying to solve.  

If you don't know where a lead came from you'll also be missing out on insights like:

  • Did the lead have brand awareness or not?

  • Were they in research or buying mode?

  • How long it is likely to take to convert them?

By knowing where the lead came from you are giving your sales team the best ammunition for their pitch. You’re also making the process effortless for the potential customer – they don’t need to explain themselves.

5. You don’t know a campaign’s ROI

Track everything. While there are some great lead-generation methods for SMBs that won't break the bank, marketing costs money, whether directly or via salary costs.

To ensure you are putting that money in the right place, you need to be able to tie leads, pipeline and sales numbers back to individual marketing campaigns. Once you've got the figures you can compare the return on investment (ROI) on the different aspects of your marketing spend and see what works best for you.

When campaigns are being set up make sure there is a direct way of attributing sales to the campaign – for example a dedicated landing page on your website or a promotion code in a direct mail campaign. That way you'll be able to directly track the benefits of that piece of collateral.

6. Your team is doing monkey work

Time is money. Your marketing team face a lot of the same issues as sales. They may spend time sending out follow-up email campaigns and nurturing potential business. While these things are important, they can be automated and your people can spend more time on the work that makes money.

Sending follow-up emails on how to get started on a free trial and then another to ensure that trialists are making the most of it can easily be done with marketing automation. This helps to maintain velocity in the pipeline without someone having to remember to do it. More importantly, it frees up valuable time.  

Six small changes can ensure that your marketing investment is paying off – that the money you’re spending is making money. Get them right and you could see a big improvement in both marketing efficiencies and bottom line sales.

Want to make all of this simple? We’re here to help. Download our ebook ‘5 hacks to dominate your quota this quarter’. This e-book outlines five different game plans to help sales reps crush their quotas — and discusses how marketing automation can give sales the edge they need to outsell their competition.