Common Online Marketing Mistakes

It seems that interest in online marketing is hotter than ever; every week it seems we get more questions from reporters, prospects and clients about do’s, don’ts and best practices of online communications. Last week we received a question about what we would view as the “Big 3” online marketing mistakes that we see businesses make, especially small businesses.

It’s a great question. Online businesses are really in a great position to take advantage of online marketing. In fact, online marketing really levels the playing field for small businesses when it comes to positioning their companies, products and services relative to competitors–even very big competitors. There are, though, some common mistakes that small businesses tend to fall prey to.

One of the biggest we see is that these small businesses–and independent consultants and other service providers–often do not seem to be aware of the impact that their online activities can have on their brand image. They don’t align what they’re doing online with the brand impression they’re hoping to make, in general, and they often fail to ensure that their online “brand personality” is consistent with the image they convey through their other activities. This means all online activities–social media, responses to blog posts, responses left on other sites, etc. Any time you are communicating online and using your company name (or your own name if you’re hoping to establish yourself as a thought leader), you are leaving an impression. You want that impression to be positive and consistent with your desired brand image.

In the online world, your image is conveyed through everything from the look of your web site to the typos in your tweets. But businesses sometimes forget this and take a casual or cavalier approach to their online communications. This extends to “doing it themselves” when they really should seek outside assistance (e.g. for developing a web site or designing a template for a Facebook page or eletter).

This issue has been most notable to me when I’m working with clients to do an assessment of their online activities and I compare them to their competitors. Most of the time they stack up very favorably against their competitors, which is great. Even some of the very small clients we work with have very impressive and high-quality on-line communications that stack up well against the competition. The ability to communicate with audiences through online technology can be a big benefit for small businesses, and independent service providers, but only if they do it well.

If you’re hoping to establish or build your online presence, how can you avoid making these common errors? A few recommended steps:

  • Spend some time evaluating what your competitors are doing online and the image they’re conveying
  • Determine how you would like to position yourself/your business compared to the competition–what are your desired brand attributes?
  • Evaluate your current communication activities (online and off) to determine whether you are supporting your desired brand attributes
  • Make necessary modifications to your communication materials (seeking assistance as necessary from experts in the field)
  • Continue to be vigilant about ensuring your communications support your desired brand, continue to monitor results and competitive activity and modify your actions as appropriate

One final point: be assured that your competitors are also doing online surveillance of you. What are they learning and how are they incorporating what they learn into their communication activities? The process of evaluating your brand and your competitive position, and making appropriate adjustments, is not a one-time activity. It’s an ongoing process that, if done well, will result in measurable outcomes!

Recommended Reading:

Likeable Social Media – David Kerpen

500 Social Media Marketing Tips – Andrew McCarthy

The McGraw-Hill 36-Hour Course: Online Marketing – Lorrie Thomas


Related Blog Posts:

Creating Online Communities

Are You Listening to and Learning From Your Web and Social Media Analytics?

Social Media Mistakes That Businesses Make


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