Because marketing is often perceived to either be a woolly, creative area of the business or a dark art that swallows time and money with little return, many SMEs fail to plan their marketing effectively. Here are the five common mistakes they make and how you can overcome them.

Mistake 1. Failing to have a marketing Strategy 

Strategic Marketing sets out the WHAT you are selling, WHO you are selling it to and WHY you are selling it. A good strategic marketing plan provides focus for your business. Strategic Marketing is the thinking part of marketing. If you don’t do this crucial first stage, your Tactical Marketing will not be as effective as it could be.

Mistake 2. Thinking Tactical Marketing is marketing

Tactical Marketing sets out HOW you sell your product and service. It is all about implementing the Marketing Strategy. It’s the getting on and doing it stage. Most companies that claim they “do marketing” mean that they are doing Tactical Marketing eg promotional activities, sales activities, digital activities etc. If you haven’t addressed the key strategic questions of WHAT, WHO and WHY, then your Tactical Marketing will be costing your organisation time and money.

Read here for more on the difference between strategic and tactical marketing.

Mistake 3. Focusing internally

Too often, we focus on what we think internally about our product or services, rather than what our customers think. Stop using this self-reference criteria. Yes, what you and your staff think is important but what the people who are buying your product or service think is even more important. Click here to see four ways you can get to know your customer better and how to apply them to your marketing.

Mistake 4. Focusing on Awareness activities

Let’s face it, most people think tactical marketing is all about Awareness and promotion. It’s more than that. There is a whole Buying Process that the marketing function should be looking after and helping prospects move through, until they become loyal customers, and then you need to retain their loyalty.

Here’s a reminder of what the Buying Process looks like, courtesy of Watertight Marketing:

The Watertight Marketing 13 touchpoint leaks

The Watertight Marketing 13 touchpoint leaks

Make sure your marketing plan addresses all the aspects of it, not just the Awareness stage.
Watch this free 45 minute tutorial from Bryony Thomas of Watertight Marketing to see what you should be doing at each stage of the Buying Process or contact us to do a Touchpoint Leak Review of your entire Buying Process.

Mistake 5. Hiring the wrong person to do your marketing

Would you go to a dentist if you had a persistent headache? No, you’d go to your GP.
So often, people hire a specialist in one area of marketing eg digital, PR, and are then surprised when that person delivers marketing that is focused on their speciality area rather than marketing across the board.

Sort out your Tactical Marketing Plan, across the whole Buying Process, then decide who needs to do your marketing. Often small to medium sized businesses need a good, general marketing tactician who can do a range of marketing activities and, crucially, bring in specialists when needed.


If you are making these common marketing planning mistakes and want to do better, but don’t have the time or expertise to do it, then contact us. We specialise in reviewing organisations’ marketing and helping them put in place effective plans.

By Kara Stanford, Strategic Marketing Consultant, KMS Marketing

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