Much of the time we spend here is devoted to discussing strategies for rapid business growth through marketing.

However I’ve found it’s just as important to learn from mistakes as it is to follow good advice.

In this article I’ll outline three of the most common marketing blunders made by small and medium sized businesses.

These “stupid” marketing strategies have killed many small businesses. Left unchecked, they could kill yours.

Stupid Marketing Strategy #1 – Not Tracking Advertising Return On Investment (ROI)

John Wanamaker, one of the marketing greats, famously said:

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half

While this was understandable a century ago, when it was first said, it should be a crime to say today. Yet the reality is that most small businesses do little if any tracking of advertising.

Not measuring where your leads and sales come from and not tracking ROI on ad spend is the mark of the amateur. We all have at our disposal the technology to quickly, easily and cheaply track advertising effectiveness.

Tools such as toll-free numbers, website analytics and coupon codes make this trivial. Remember what gets measured, gets managed. Be ruthless with your ad spend by cutting the losers and riding the winners. Obviously to know what’s losing and what’s winning, you need to be tracking and measuring.

Stupid Marketing Strategy #2 – Going Too Broad

Who is your target market? If you tell me “everyone”, then I know you haven’t properly thought this through.

Trying to target everyone in reality means you’re targeting no one. By going too broad you kill your “specialness” and become a commodity bought on price.

By narrowly defining a target market whom you can wow and deliver huge results for, you become a specialist. A specialist is someone sought out, respected and most importantly trusted.

When you narrow down your target market, you naturally decide who you’re going to exclude. Don’t underestimate the importance of this.

Excluding potential customers scares many small business owners. They mistakenly believe that a wider net is more likely to capture more customers. This is a huge mistake.

Dominate a niche, then once you own it, do the same with another and then another. But never do so all at once. Doing so dilutes your message and your marketing power.

Stupid Marketing Strategy #3 – Wasting Money On “Branding” When You’re A Small Business

So many small businesses waste huge sums of money on “branding”. They see their large competitors do so and think that this must be the path to success.

I explain in explicit detail here why this is crazy.

Here’s a short illustration. Think of yourself as a hunter and your marketing dollars as firepower. You need to use your limited firepower wisely so that you can successfully hunt, come home victorious and feed your family.

If you start randomly firing in every direction, you’re going to startle and scare off your prey. You need to be targeted and clever if you wish to be victorious.

Of course some people will argue with me and say that “getting your name out there” is the way to go.

Unless you’re a large business like Nike, Apple, Coca Cola or similar then it’s likely you can’t afford to burn tens of millions of dollars on fuzzy marketing like “branding” or “getting your name out there”.

Rather than “getting your name out there”, you’ll fare much better by concentrating on getting the name of your prospects in here.

As a small or medium sized business you need to get a fast return on your marketing spend.

Putting your comparatively tiny marketing budget into fuzzy marketing is like the proverbial drop in the ocean.

The game of mass marketing, branding and “getting your name out there” type of marketing can only be won with atomic bomb scale firepower.

If you’re a small to medium business that’s not a game you’re equipped to play.

If you’ve found yourself engaging in any of these stupid marketing strategies, now’s the time to stop, re-evaluate and change course.

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About the author: Allan Dib


Allan is a serial entrepreneur, rebellious marketer and technology freak.

He has started, grown and successfully exited multiple businesses in various industries including IT, telecommunications and marketing.

His last business was in the hyper-competitive telecommunications industry. It went from startup to four years later being named by Business Review Weekly (BRW) as one of Australia’s fastest growing companies – earning a spot in the coveted BRW Fast 100 list.

Allan writes regular columns in several online and print publications and appears as a guest speaker at technology, business and marketing events.

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This article was first published by Allan Dib